Despite the fast food stigma, a slab of cow between two buns has become nothing less than an art form. The following use a red meat palate to create burgers that are things of beauty.
1. Ann’s Snack Bar (Kirkwood) – She’s been called a Southern version of the Soup Nazi, but Ann Price’s wrath is worth it. It’s a means to an end; you get to take a bite of the award-winning Ghetto Burger, approximately 1/2 pound of beef with bacon, chili, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, and ketchup on a toasted bun. 2. Manuel’s Tavern (Poncey Highland) – Old school watering hole popular with politicos boasts serious burgers like the 1/2-pound McCloskey. It’s dressed with lettuce, tomato and onion, smacked between a kaiser roll. Or tackle the J.J. Special, a 1/3-pound patty that sits on wheat toast with Swiss and American cheeses and onion. 3. Atkins Park Tavern (Virginia-Highland) – This neighborhood staple has been shilling its trademark Bruno Burgers for the past 25 years. A Black Angus beef patty bellows with a moo full of sautéed ’shrooms and onions. The secret? Namesake Warren Bruno would sauté the veggies with a stick of butter and a cup of sherry. And Bruno adds a twig from his Italian family tree with a slice of provolone cheese.
4. Flip Burger (Westside) – Faux-hawked celeb chef Richard Blais is the face of this trendy burger venture with restaurateur Barry Mills. But it works wonderfully. A sizable batch of burgers get a foodie spin, including the Southern, a country-fried patty with pimento cheese. Wash it down with a Krispy Kreme doughnut shake. 5. Holeman & Finch Public House (Buckhead) – A meat-centric haunt where house-cured meats dangle like decor, Holeman & Finch has a novel burger concept. The Sammy is only served after 10 p.m. each night when partner Greg Best makes his burger proclamation over a bullhorn. These double-stacked burgers snuggled in cheese are known to sell out in minutes. 6. Kevin Rathbun Steak (Inman Park) – The ginormous chef known for steaks par excellence channels his romance with red meat into a burger starring an 8-ounce USDA Prime ribeye patty. Each is ground to order. 7. The Vortex (Little Five Points) – Stroll in through the giant skull-shaped entrance for an adventure in massive burgers with fun and fanciful bling. Crazy creations include the Coronary Bypass, which is topped with cheese, bacon, and a fried egg. 8. Ted’s Montana Grill (Downtown) – The flagship location of Ted Turner’s bison-boasting chain has a slew of burgers on its roster. Available in both bison and beef versions, notable notions include the Blue Creek (bleu cheese, bacon, and ’shrooms), Green & Hot (guacamole, jalapeno peppers, and jack cheese), and the S.O.B. (Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and bacon). 9. Dogwood (Midtown) – Chef Shane Tuohy injects foodie smarts into Southern staples at his snazzy home base. And his burger is no exception. It wears Thomasville Tomme cheese straight from Georgia’s Sweet Grass Dairy, strips of smokehouse bacon, house-created bread-and-butter pickles, and a drizzle of garlic aïoli. 10. Cabbagetown Market & Little’s Grill (Cabbagetown) – This specialty market with the checkerboard floor pushes primo products like fried quail, Bariani olive oil, and Indian spice mixes. Its burger comes to life with a grass-fed patty with a glob of pimento cheese on brioche.