The history of the hamburger is confusing. One theory is that it was invented by Mongols under Kublai Khan, and brought back to Hamburg by seafarers. Then, somehow, ground beef gets to America, and somehow it’s put between two pieces of bread.
But let’s stop the history lesson and focus on today. After all, Hamburgers are more popular than ever, with new trendy burger joints constantly popping up both around Stockholm and abroad.
SHAKE SHACK, NEW YORK
This chain sprouted from a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park, Manhattan, with New Yorkers lining up daily for three summers. A few years later, Shake Shack opened up for real with a permanent kiosk, and now has six locations around New York, with a plenty more around the globe (one of them opening in London recently).
Shake Shack is one of our absolute favourite places to enjoy a burger. The buns, one of the most important parts of any burger, are great – moist, fluffy and flavourful. The classic Shake Shack patty, a tower of ground beef, is flattened against a searing griddle with a metal press and made to stay there until one surface turns all brown and crunchy. The taste of the burger and layer of crust are simply awesome (even if I usually prefer my burgers less well done). It’s simply put all about the meat (read more here).
The service is great and unlike the workers at most fast-food outlets, Shake Shack employees give the impression that they truly like their customers. Prices are cheap too.
Skip the fries, which are mediocre, and go for a shake instead (we prefer the chocolate one).
IN-N-OUT BURGER, CALIFORNIA
It’s an awesome tasting burger, only available in equally awesome California. Need I say more?
Well, OK then.
In-N-Out Burger is something of a cult to those living outside of the chain’s west-cost bubble. Actually, the first time I visited California, one of the top things on my to-do list was to eat a “Double-Double”. After finishing my first one at the restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf, I ordered another one. I was hooked.
The story of America’s coolest burger chain begins with the company’s founder, Harry and Esther Snyder. Harry was a World War II vet and later a catered of baked goods, and the two met at the restaurant Esther was managing. Neither had experience in the emerging quick service industry, but in 1948, the newlyweds opened the first In-N-Out in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park, across the street from Harry Snyder’s childhood home.
Over 60 years later, In-N-Out Burger is more popular than ever. However, while competing chains like McDonalds and other rivals exploded to thousands of locations, In-N-Out continued to moderate the pace of their expansion (it was only in 1992 that the first restaurant appeared outside of the nest of Southern California, under the bright lights of Las Vegas). Quality and control was always more important than growth and profit.
The same goes for the menu. Rich, the son of founder Harry, made this clear to Forbes in 1989, saying, “it’s hard enough to sell burgers, fries and drinks right. And when you start adding things, it gets worse”. A lemon-lime soda would be the only exception during his tenure as president.
There is a not-so-secret menu, but we prefer to, like Harry and Esther Snyder, to keep it simple: A Double-Double, fries and a chocolate shake.
PATTY & BUN, LONDON
Despite being raved about everywhere, the all-day queues, and receiving the highest rating in Time Out (tourist invasion incoming), we just can’t avoid mentioning Patty & Bun in London.
First off, it’s closer to us than any American alternatives, and secondly, they make a damn good hamburger. Ingredients are British, the menu is simple and witty and they even do takeaways. The “Ari Gold burger”, our favourite, is a generous patty slathered in a winning combination of ketchup and smoky mayo, sandwiched in a glazed brioche bun.
The atmosphere is laid-back (and tiny – the restaurant only seats about 30 people at a time) with two thirds of patrons posting pictures of their burger on Instagram before diving in.
HONORARY MENTIONS? Flippin’ Burgers, Stockholm. Matbaren, Stockholm. Irv’s Burger, Los Angeles. Burger Joint, New York. Five Guys, New York. And finally, the classic cheeseburger at McDonalds, thanks for being there for us in times of darkness.
MAKE YOUR OWN: Check out this great guide to creating the “Fake Shack”. We’ve tried it and it turns out great.