Where to Find the Best Burgers in Raleigh, N.C.
Tuesday, March 09, 2021, 9am by Tabletop Media Group
For late-night eats and chow-down feasts, sometimes you just need a really good burger. Below are some of the best of the best in the Raleigh area. Let's dig in!
One of Transfer Co. Food Hall's tastiest tenants, Mama Crow’s specializes in quality, certified Angus beef chuck burgers that are ground daily and topped with a variety of delectable ingredients, including beef chili, house pickles and Mama’s mustard sauce for the Chili Burger, and cheese curds, griddled mushrooms and goat cheese for the Patty Smash. Additionally, whether you’re a meat eater or a non-meat eater, the vegan Superfree Burger, made out of sweet potatoes, roasted mushrooms, walnuts and seeds, is a huge hit. A bonus: Mama Crow’s also sources the majority of their ingredients from local farms.
Since 2002, Glenwood South’s MoJoe’s has prided themselves in offering (arguably) the best burgers in Raleigh, and for good reason. The menu is nothing short of tempting, with signature burgers that range from The Bleu’s—a MoJoe’s mainstay topped with blue cheese crumbles and crispy bacon—to the spicy Inferno made with a Cajun-spiced patty and topped with grilled jalapeños, onions and pepper jack cheese. Open until 1am seven days a week, these burgers pair particularly well with a local beer or milkshake on the side.
An all-day breakfast diner opened by the late Barry Doyle in 1992, Barry's Cafe has earned a loyal customer base—and grown from 50 seats to 130—by treating visitors like family. It's said that Doyle, who also founded the non-profit foundation Feed the Firefighters, knew the names of more than 3,500 customers. Today, Barry's Cafe serves all the traditional breakfast items you could ever ask for, but also offers up "Barry's famous burgers" at lunchtime—all-beef patties freshly grilled and served with choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. The 3.5-ounce Baby Burger with a side of fries is one of the quickest, tastiest and friendliest lunches in town.
Every Monday, Chef Sean Fowler whips up a special house-ground burger that comes in any number of gourmet flavor combinations. One Monday you might get one topped with mac and cheese, another Monday one with french fried onions and blue cheese and another Monday one with a heaping portion of mouthwatering pimento cheese. Not just delicious, it's a good deal—Monday burgers are on special for just $9 (available for $15 other nights of the week!).
A Raleigh favorite for its cozy indoor/outdoor space, complete with a greenery-filled heated patio that elicits summer vibes even in the heart of winter, The Station is a classic spot for a classic burger—a dependable combination of two patties, lettuce, tomato, onion and American cheese. For the vegetarians, a black bean burger delivers a zesty punch of flavor with a smooth spread of lime sour cream.
Given that The Players' Retreat (or PR, as the locals call it) has been in operation for 70 years, it’s safe to assume they know how to make a really good burger. PR’s loyal regulars would agree, especially if you’re talking about the Wolfpack Burger—an ode to North Carolina State University, located just across the street—prepared with a certified black Angus beef burger, slaw, mustard and chili. Just make sure you order extra napkins!
Note: Temporarily closed, expected to reopen in late spring.
Burgers, fries, shakes. Nothing fancy here (or so it seems). Just good old-fashioned smash burgers that will make you lose your mind. Hightop is a modern, locally-owned take on a classic burger joint. Go for the burgers (smashed to order and served on a bun from nearby Union Special Bread), add some fries and finish it all off with chocolate, vanilla or strawberry shake (beer and wine available, too!). You’ll be left wondering how you ever ate burgers any other way.
The pride of Dominican-born founder Roberto Diaz, Berto's Chimis brings traditional Dominican Republic street food to downtown Raleigh, where the food truck can be found parked outside of BaySix (414 Dupont Cir.). The star of the show—the chimi—is a Dominican-style hamburger with bold flavors, served with toppings that include pickled cabbage, tomatoes and a special sauce. A side of tostones (fried green plantains) is a no-brainer and a Country Club (a Dominican soda) will top things off right.
Not quite a hole-in-the-wall but certainly a hidden gem in Cary, Corbett’s can be easy to miss but certainly easy to love. A classic burger joint and soda shop with more than 250 glass-bottled sodas available, one burger fave is the Hot Dog Burger, topped with—you guessed it—a hot dog, along with chili, American cheese, mayo, lettuce, tomato and grilled onions. The BBQ Soda Burger is true to its name, served with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, hickory smoked bacon and a unique (and very addictive) A&W root beer BBQ sauce.
Opened by Jonathan and Maggie Pierce in 2015, this wildly-popular duo of Southern-inspired restaurants (one in Holly Springs, one in Fuquay-Varina, plus a standalone lager-focused brewery) offers a bevy of burger options fit for the entire family. The namesake TMJT Burger comes with bacon jam, blue cheese and caramelized onions, the Hangover Burger features a bloody Mary mayo and fried egg and the Pimento Cheeseburger goes all in with a fried green tomato, bacon and fresh jalapeños (in addition to the slathering of pimento itself). For dessert, the S'more in a Jar is always a crowd-pleaser!
A Raleigh institution, Char-Grill is the destination for late-night burgers and fries. Since 1959 the establishment has been serving patties cooked over chargrill flames, producing a crispy exterior enveloping an otherwise perfectly-moist hamburger. The drive-in style restaurant, which now has 10 locations in and around the Raleigh area, is a local favorite for good reason.
Although Capital Club 16 is best known for their German-inspired cuisine, you definitely shouldn’t sleep on the burger—made from a flavorful mixture of in-house ground brisket, chuck and sirloin. On Wednesdays, Capital Club serves up a $5 specialty burger that’s always topped with something new and never disappoints. Past features include a “Crispy Curry Burger” with curry ketchup, crispy sweet potatoes and balsamic red onions, and a four-cheese burger with horseradish sauce, smoked paprika braised shallots and caramelized onion aioli.
At Cow Bar inside of Morgan Street Food Hall, chef Dan Yeager uses his culinary expertise to take an ordinary burger and turn it into a mouthwatering masterpiece. If your bite is large enough, spring for the quad stack, a mile-high pièce de résistance overflowing with gooey melted cheese, or opt for the healthier vegetarian burger made of curry infused kidney beans and grilled zucchini and topped with fire roasted red peppers, red onions and avocado.
Nothing beats a sunny day on Whiskey Kitchen’s patio with a tasty burger in one hand and a cold beverage in the other. The popular bar-restaurant offers two one-of-a-kind burger creations: a lamb burger with sheep’s cheese, tomato, Vesta aioli, basil and mint, and also a pork burger with farm cheese, whole grain mustard, apple butter and arugula.
Header photo courtesy of Mama Crow's Burger and Salad Shop
Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts. Menconi's latest book,... View More
Looking for a way to spark ideas for your next Tar Heel State getaway? Interested in retracing the steps of prior generations... View More