After following Fancy Frite Janine’s Best wings in town post for nearly two years now, I decided it was time I make my own Best Of post for Seattle. But what to write about? Sure, restaurants and pubs have wings everywhere you go, but I wanted to write about something very uniquely Seattle. That’s when I realized just how devoted Seattleites are to their favourite local burger franchise, be it Dick’s, Lil Woody’s, Red Mill, etc. Everyone has an opinion on who has the best burger, and will argue endlessly with you about it. So here it is, my assessment on the best burgers of Seattle, as nominated by friends and classmates.
The Criteria: I’ve tried to go with the standard cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and the usual condiments for each burger, for uniformity between each place. That, plus an order of fries to round it out.
Dick’s Drive-In is a Seattle institution, serving up burgers, fries, and shakes since 1954. Made recently notorious by an impromptu rooftop concert by none other than Macklemore himself, Dick’s is a favourite among locals for a daytime bite, and especially late at night as the perfect drunk food stopover when heading home from the bar. Passing Dick’s at any time of the day you’ll see a lineup of customers outside, and a crowd nearby standing wherever there’s room, chowing down on their food.
I went for the Dick’s Deluxe, with double 1/8 grilled patties, melted cheese, lettuce, mayo, and pickle relish. Let me start off by saying there’s nothing legitimately great about this burger, it’s just delicious for no good reason. It’s that guilty, junky food that you would want to binge on in a depressive state while watching an entire season of something on Netflix and not even feel bad about it after. It’s stupid that cheap ingredients are this good.
Beef – good, natural beef flavour, no unnecessary seasoning
Toppings – iceberg lettuce, american cheese, mayo and pickle relish = nothing to write home about, but good nonetheless
Bun – nice proportions, light, eggy, and not too much bread
Score: 3.5 out of 5 [but 10/10 would eat after a night out of drinking]
Lil Woody’s may not be that long-lived Seattle institution, but they are definitely doing something right to earn a spot on this list. The best part is there’s a new location just a 10 minute walk from me, so this visit will certainly not be my last.
I went for the classic Lil Woody, a burger made with grass fed NW beef, Tillamook cheddar, chopped onion, diced pickles, ketchup, and mayo. I also got the queso fries on the side. Now here’s the thing: I have no idea why, but after my first bite, my very first reaction was to think “now, if McDonalds actually cared about each ingredient in their cheeseburgers, this is what it would taste like.” This burger legitimately is no different as far as each element of a McDonald’s cheeseburger goes, and when you eat it, there’s a hint of that vibe in it; however, this is infinitely better.
Beef – clearly very good quality beef, with no overbearing seasonings, leaving the patty to have a nice natural beef flavour
Toppings – great cheese, and the toppings all kind of melded together to make this delicious chunky sauce.
Bun – soft, eggy, and not too much bread; perfectly complimented the burger and toppings
Score: somewhere between a 4 and 4.5 out of 5. There’s nothing unique about this burger, it’s just really, really delicious.
Oh, and the queso fries? Goddamn they were tasty. Crispy shoestring-cut fries with a zesty queso generously poured over top. I will be coming back many times, and forcing whichever companion I have with me to get these fries.
Red Mill Burger
The next stop on our list was Red Mill Burger, another local franchise that a number of people have recommended to me. In keeping with the other burgers, I ordered the Red Mill Cheese Burger, which came on a sesame seed bun with American cheese, lettuce, and mill sauce.
Overall, this was a huge letdown. The bun was unremarkable, there was little beef flavour, and for some reason the whole thing was insanely….drippy. Just so much mysterious liquid coming off this burger that wasn’t grease or sauce. I really wouldn’t recommend this place for a good burger, nor will I likely return here in the future.
Beef – not much flavour, very thin patty
Toppings – lettuce was wilted, cheese was fine, and the sauce wasn’t memorable
Bun – dry sesame seed bun, seemed to come apart as I ate the burger.
Score: Somewhere between a 1.5 or a 2 out of 5
Blue Moon Burgers
This is the last stop on our burger trip around Seattle. Blue Moon is another local Seattle hot spot, cranking out burgers and shakes made with locally-sourced ingredients. As always, I went for the typical cheeseburger, or “The Classic” at Blue Moon, made simply with ketchup, moustard, pickle, and cheddar on a brioche bun.
This burger is definitely a close contender for the top spot. The beef had an all-natural flavour without too much seasoning; the toppings and cheese were just enough to not overload the burger, and the brioche bun was right on the money. The only letdown was the fries; they were just too undercooked, with no crisp or crunch to them at all. As much as I love fries, soft undercooked fries are no good. A perfect fry to have with a burger would be a nicely crisp shoestring cut, which these were not. However, the burger was so good it almost didn’t matter.
Beef – good natural beef flavour
Toppings – kept simple with moustard, ketchup, pickle, and cheese. Maybe could have used some lettuce or tomato, but I can’t say I necessarily missed those extra ingredients.
Bun – excellent brioche bun that stood up well to the burger and toppings. Moist without falling apart.
Score: Somewhere between a 3.5 or a 4 out of 5 – loses points for the fries.