What makes a great burger? For many chefs, it comes down to the quality of the meat. Ariel Fox, Vice President of Culinary for Del Frisco’s Grille explains, “When it comes to burgers, you never want to just buy lean ground beef. Always opt for a blend such as brisket, short rib, and chuck. As for fat content, anything less than 20 percent fat is just going to taste dry and bland. Any good restaurant burger follows these rules!”
It doesn’t end with meat, though, the bun is important as well, says award-winning Chef David Burke, who has burgers on the menu of every one of his 18 restaurants. “The bun is also important. The meat shouldn’t be overwhelmed by it, as is often the case with the brioche buns used so often these days. They’re so thick, the patty gets lost,” Burke says.
With those qualifications in mind, and looking at reviews, fan raves, and our own personal experience enjoying burgers across the country, we gathered some of the best examples of chain restaurants with excellent burgers for all palates in the U.S.
1. Texas Roadhouse
Texas Roadhouse—which wasn’t founded in Texas—has over 600 locations in the U.S. and the restaurant’s popularity shows no signs of slowing down. While we love the well-priced, hearty steaks, there’s something about high-quality ground beef between buns that is so craveable. Texas Roadhouse’s Smokehouse Burger, All-American Cheeseburger, and hearty Bacon Cheeseburger are a way to get all the deliciousness of the chain’s steak in a handheld sandwich. The Smokehouse Burger is the most unique and is topped with sautéed mushrooms, onions, BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion, and American and jack cheeses; this hefty sandwich, which clocks in at 1080 calories, is served on a Texas-sized bun with steak fries and a pickle spear.
2. Outback Steakhouse
Yes, you’ve been to Outback for the great steaks and sides, but don’t sleep on the Outbacker Burger, which is a meaty half-pound burger topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, house-made pickles, and mustard. Served with one of Outback’s freshly made sides, this burger is always cooked to order. If you’re feeling adventurous and hungry, try the fan-favorite Bloomin’ Burger. This beauty is a half-pound burger topped with the famous Bloomin’ Onion petals, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, house-made pickles, onion, and bloom sauce. It’s also packing 1,110 calories without sides, so be sure to split it with a friend.
3. The Cheesecake Factory
Founded in California in the 1940s, there are now more than 200 restaurants around the world featuring the chain’s exceptionally long menu. Cheesecake Factory calls its burger selection “Glamburgers.” Its burger options include some tame classics like the Old Fashioned Burger—served with lettuce, tomato, and mayo—and a Bacon-Bacon Cheeseburger with two types of bacon.
Of course, you’ll also find the over-the-top options the restaurant is known for like a French Dip Cheeseburger—served with au jus—a Macaroni and Cheeseburger topped with fried mac and cheese balls and cheddar cheese sauce. In case you’re wondering, the Macaroni and Cheeseburger tips the scales at 1,340 calories. The French Dip Cheeseburger and Bacon-Bacon Cheeseburger are the most-outlandish burgers on the menu with 1,620 and 1,680 calories respectively.
4. Del Frisco’s Grille
Deviating slightly from the steak, steak, and more steak formula that has worked so well at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Grille has about 20 locations around the country. A self-described “New American bar and grill,” diners will find slightly lower prices and a more casual menu, while still getting that steakhouse service and well-balanced cocktails they expect from Del Frisco’s.
The menus vary by location, but you’ll find burgers at all of them, and the standout is the Filet Burger, made with eight ounces of ground filet mignon and topped with aged white cheddar, melted onions, baby arugula, and butcher-cut bacon. It creeps over the $20 mark, but when you’re ordering filet mignon, you’re going to pay filet mignon prices. You can also try the Grille Cheeseburger with double-stacked beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, onion, and “sloppy sauce.”
This growing chain sells organic and all-natural burgers in a sit-down setting, and it all started in Queens during the economic downturn in 2008. Only one thing was selling at owner Euripides Pelekanos’ nightclub: grass-fed burgers. Seeing an opportunity he opened a tiny restaurant called Bareburger, and it’s been a hit with healthy-minded burger lovers who love the well-crafted four-ounce burgers made from organic beef, turkey, elk, and vegetarian and vegan patties as well. Currently, there are 32 Bareburgers in the U.S.
With burgers in the restaurant name, it’s no surprise this up-and-coming East Coast chain has a killer burger menu. You can find this small chain in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., Beyond the burgers, which are made with 100% Certified Black Angus beef directly from ranchers in the Midwest that is hand-cut and ground in-house.
The burgers range from the Tavern Classic—with lettuce, tomato, onion, and special sauce—to a half-beef, half-pork burger called The Squealer. Check out the menu at your chosen location to see what other combos and toppings are available.
Bonus: It recently added a bourbon program that kicked off with prix fixe five-course dinners paired with the legendary Pappy Van Winkle bourbons. The chain also received Connecticut Magazine’s best burger award in 2022.
7. PJ Clarke’s
A New York City classic, the original location of this small chain opened in 1884, and it’s been serving a near-perfect burger ever since. For some historical context, it opened before the Statue of Liberty’s torch was lit, and singer Buddy Holly proposed to his wife in the original location. Now, with locations in NYC, Philadelphia, and D.C., the restaurant has become a classic city burger bar, that serves Clarke Burgers.
These handhelds start with the classic Clarke (lettuce, tomato, and onion), and move all the way up to the Au Poivre Burger (topped with green peppercorn au poivre, griddled tomatoes, and onion strings). Pro-tip: Get the trip of mini burgers, you’ll get to try a few versions. And absolutely get extra fries which are thin strings covered in sea salt and are crispy to the point of perfection.
8. Zinburger Wine and Burger Bar
With six restaurants in Arizona, the concept of this burger bar—high-quality burgers and wine—is clearly resonating with diners. Zinburger’s menu varies slightly by location, but expect a variety of burgers with high-end toppings including Danish blue cheese, Manchego, caramelized onions, wild mushrooms, onion rings, Applewood smoked bacon, and griddled sweet potato. The house Zinburger is available with certified Angus beef—or all-natural chicken or turkey—and is topped with Manchego cheese, Zinfandel braised onion, lettuce, and mayo.