Nothing says summer in the USA more than a hamburger. Grilled, fried, or broiled, we don’t care how it’s fixed so long as it tastes great. Add a slice of cheese, and you’re there.
This year we invited Coral Gables Chamber President Mark Trowbridge – the force behind the annual Burgerlicious event and the son of a Wendy’s franchise owner – to join us in the quest for the best. “There is nothing more satisfying than the taste and smell of an incredible hamburger fresh off the grill,” Trowbridge told us. “I know this essence first-hand and have done a series of life-long empirical tests to prove it… You see, I have been in search of the perfect burger every single day since I was eight years old.”
With that in mind, we visited places that both specialize in burgers and those with burgers as an almost after-thought on the menu. Each stop was equal parts taste-test and eye test, with a deeper dive into the flavor and temperature of the meat, the quality of the bun, and the array of condiments. Some were delightfully delicious. Some (we shall not name) were so bland we went for a Covid test afterward because it seemed we could no longer taste anything. Here is what we found.
Best Burger in the Gables
We tried the classic cheeseburger. It was a wet, juicy assault on our senses, with outrageously good meat. Their specialty burgers are also stunning – such as the Big Blue (with blue cheese), an explosion of flavor with cheese dripping on your plate. But you need go no further than the basic to know what a superlative burger is all about. Says proprietor Steven Bradley, “Our burgers are so darn good because we don’t cut any corners on quality, from our made-daily brioche buns, to our made-from-scratch sauces. It also helps that our 1,000 square foot restaurant has no walk-in cooler or freezer, so everything has to be fresh. It is like a game of Tetris and Jenga mixed together, always at critical mass.” And for a half pound of wagyu beef, $14 is a great price.
Clutch Burger, 146 Giralda Ave. 305.400.8242
Best Specialty Burgers
This is a homemade recipe that comes from the family of the owners who launched this Gables-based chain. And it has a unique flavor, made crunchy with potato sticks and flavored by its own secret sauce. Sort of like Shack Shack, but better and bigger, and well- priced ($7.99 for the basic Pincho burger).
Pincho Factory, 30 Giralda Ave. 305.446.5666
This emporium of beer and American pub food has a nice lineup of burgers, most pretty solid. But we found that their Kurobuta Pork burger delivered the best flavor. With blueberry ketchup and its spicy, candied bacon, it was pig-on-pig event ($12.98)
320 San Lorenzo Ave. 305.447.9273
Best Burger Value
There was a day when a burger was a straight-forward thing: A patty of ground chuck on a white bread bun, with lettuce, tomato and onion. Period. Add cheese for a cheeseburger and ketchup or mustard to taste. It’s still here at Burger Bob’s for $5.00, $5.25 with cheese.
2001 Granada Blvd. 305.567.3100
Most Expensive Burger
It’s not their thing, but they do a darn good job of delivering with wagyu beef, caramelized onions, and gruyere cheese on a brioche. (Only $24!)
The Gramercy, 65 Miracle Mile 786.747.4854
Good meat (it is a steak house, after all), and very tasty. We also loved the toasted bun, plus it comes naked in that bun so you can dress it as you like. ($21)
Morton’s, 2333 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.442.1662
A darn good cheeseburger, juicy and fresh, and on the edge of exceptional. The fries were superb, however. A worthy contender and well-priced for the quality. ($15)
Doc B’s, 301 Miracle Mile 786.864.1220
A great burger in a French café? Yes. Thick and juicy, with a seared feeling, and the added pleasure of mesculin lettuce. Great rough-cut fries, not the salty skinny standards. ($16)
Gustave, 366 Miracle Mile 305.640.5675
Fallen from Grace
Two years ago, in our last review of best burgers, Tap 42 took first place. It is still an okay burger, with a nice thick slice of tomato. But the bun was slightly stale, and the meat had lost its joie de vivre. ($15.50)
Tap 42, 301 Giralda Ave. 786.391.1566