Virginia has all your top-of-mind hamburgers, from the billion-served chains to the newer class of corporate-run, “gourmet” burger restaurants. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll run across some of the most unique patty places in the Mid-Atlantic, combining the best of Virginia with everything an experienced meat eater has come to expect in their ground sirloin sandwich. Check out the list below (in no particular order) and plan a visit if your travels take you nearby.
1. The Station Burger, aptly named for its home at Smithfield Station, compliments Angus beef with a slice of Smithfield ham and bacon, cheddar cheese, and jumbo lump crab meat. It’s the closest you’ll get to surf and turf on one bun.
2. The description of the Wagyu Burger from The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg reads like a who’s who of exotic ingredients. From Wagyu beef to house-made focaccia and truffle cheese, this masterpiece certainly wasn’t on the menu in Colonial times. Don’t forget the duck fat fries!
3. The Joel Lunchpail from George Bowers Grocery in Staunton was named for Virginia permaculture farmer Joel Salatin, and features grass-fed beef and bacon from his Polyface Farm in nearby Swoope, Virginia.
4. Crafted with local Timbercreek Organic beef and McClure Swiss cheese, The Citizen from Citizen Burger Bar in Charlottesville is topped with black onion, garlic aioli, iceberg lettuce, tomato, fried pickle, and served on house brioche.
5.From classic burger joint the Burger Bar in Bristol comes the Howlin’ at the Moon Chili Cheeseburger – a half pound slab with homemade chili and enough meat to satisfy the wolf in all of us.
6. The Apple Jack Burger at BabyCakes Unique Eats in Abingdon pairs fresh local grass-fed Angus beef with grilled Granny Smith apples, an Old Dominion staple.
7.For the adventurous burger fan, the Bison Burger at the Horseshoe Diner in South Hill might scratch that itch for something completely different. For starters, it’s locally-sourced Bison, but it’s topped with homemade pimento cheese, a house favorite at the Horseshoe.
8. If you’re near Smith Mountain Lake, stop in at Mango’s Bar and Grill in Moneta for the 8 oz cheeseburger topped with bacon, fried egg and chipotle mayonnaise. It’s an all-day burger to satisfy your breakfast, lunch and dinner cravings at one sitting.
9. The Fredericksburger from FOODE restaurant in, where else, Fredericksburg, certainly lives up to its lengthy name. It boasts local organic beef, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon aioli, and organic lettuce all on a freshly-baked Brioche bun. You’ll need a knife (or hinged jaw) for this one.
10. The exotic sounding Wood-Grilled Teriyaki-Swiss Mushroom Burger brings together wide-ranging elements to down-home restaurant Northern Neck Burger in Kilmarnock. Whether Italian, Swiss, or Japanese, these ingredients make for a distinctly Virginian take on a distinctly American food.
11. Harrisonburg’s Cuban Burger serves up the flavorful El Vaquero, A Burger topped with Vaca Frita (seared, crispy steak with citrus and garlic), rum-caramelized onions, swiss cheese and a house-made smokey aioli.
12. Last but not least, and in honor of all the meat-eaters who have reached the end of this list, is the Double BLT at the Barbecue Exchange in Gordonsville. This monster features bacon, pork belly and baconnaise on a homemade roll. Though this sandwich might be better suited for our 17 barbecue favorites list, it’s fair to say this is the only true ham-burger on the list (sorry – couldn’t resist).
A few of these burgers are still alive in the Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Madness challenge. Go to http://www.virginia.org/culinarymadness/ and VOTE for your favorite Virginia dish.
Each entry above was suggested by a loyal local fan. Leave a comment below in support of your favorite (and its restaurant home) and we’ll compile a list of some of the best nominations during Burger month in May.
© Tom for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2014