Burger Time! Taste-Testing 10 Great Memphis Burgers 

From sophisticated to downright greasy — burgers for everybody!

Did you have a hamburger on the Fourth of July? Of course you did. You're no dummy. Maybe it was a little burnt from the grill. Piled dangerously high with all the fixings. Maybe, just maybe, you broke out the mayochup.

That's the thing about burgers. You can enhance them to Kim Kardashian-like proportions or just keep it as simple as the classic patty, pickle, onion, tomato, lettuce, bun. It's all good.

We love a good hamburger, no matter how they're made or what's on them. So, in this, Burger Week, we've turned our eye toward some fine examples of restaurants taking the humble burger and turning it up to 11. Ever think to yourself that what this burger is missing is an onion ring? No worries here. We've got you covered. Think an egg-topped burger is everything? Don't fret. It's in there. Like your burger good and greasy? Well, sure, who doesn't? It's there, too.

For Burger Week, happening now through July 16th, some 26 restaurants are offering their chosen burger for the low low price of $5.99. Now that's a deal you just can't pass up. Let us know what you ate with the social tag #FlyerBurgerWeek.

click to enlarge Slider Inn
  • Slider Inn

Flat Iron at Slider Inn

What's the difference between a slider and a burger? A slider is a type of burger defined by its bun size. The term was originally applied to White Castle's small burger with caramelized onions served on steamed buns. But in the last few years, "slider" has proven to be as elastic a word as "burger."

You can get a classic American meal of three sliders and fries at Slider Inn, but they also sell a variety of exotic sliders, from a falafel to a jerk pork version. The buffalo chicken version is a personal favorite, and the Big Deuce will satisfy the hardiest appetite, but without a doubt the most extreme burger on the menu is the Flat Iron.

It begins with a chunk of steak that overflows the confines of the slider bun, covered in melted cheese and topped with the sautéed onions that were one of the original slider signifiers and crispy onion straws. Roasted red bell peppers round out the toppings, and horseradish aioli, a tasty nod to steak culture, serves as a condiment.

The meat is a little more al dente than ground beef, but the flavor is juicy and immensely satisfying. The two different kinds of onions work in delicious tandem, and the peppers add a little extra smoky sweetness. The Flat Iron is a burger that punches way above its weight.

— Chris McCoy

Slider Inn, 2117 Peabody, 725-1155

click to enlarge The Bluff
  • The Bluff

Babineaux at The Bluff

The Bluff, a popular Cajun-themed bistro on the Highland strip near the University of Memphis, is divided essentially into several separate but connected spaces — outdoor patios, a sports-bar entry space with seven screens to keep you interested as you sip and munch, and an interior dining-room area with a stage for live entertainment.

Burgers are a major component of the sports-bar menu, and the Babineaux is one of several specialty burgers offered there. It requires some big bites to take it all in. It's a pile. Compressed between its top and bottom buns are: a thick fried onion ring, a layer of more onion pieces (raw), generous pieces of lettuce, a hefty slice of tomato, bacon strips, and homemade remoulade sauce — all of this in the service of a thick half-pound hunk of burger, topped with melted pepper jack and cooked to your pleasure. Served with fries as a side. Add mustard or ketchup as thou wilt, and open wide.

It's a lot for $12, especially considering that those jumbo-sized patties are hand-shaped from fresh meat delivered fresh daily from local sources. Nothing assembly-made here!

— Jackson Baker

The Bluff, 535 S. Highland, 454-7771

click to enlarge Farm Burger
  • Farm Burger

No. 2 Vegan Burger at Farm Burger

Nestled in the heart of Crosstown Concourse, near the famous winding red stairs leading to Crosstown Arts, is one of my favorite burger joints in town. (And if we're being honest, I'm something of a hamburger fanatic. I get misty-eyed thinking about the steamed hammy from the long-gone Three Angels Diner, and I celebrate the Flyer's Burger Week like it's a national holiday.) I've been eating my way through Farm Burger's delicious menu since they opened, and this cover story gave me the perfect excuse to check another of their burgers off my list.

Though I'm not a vegetarian, my love for burgers is big enough to include room for the occasional beefless version. And what's more extreme than a burger without a hint of meat? Farm Burger's No. 2 Vegan Burger boasts a gluten-free patty made of kale, quinoa, cremini mushrooms, sweet potato, caramelized onions, and a veritable smorgasbord of spices. Topped with cucumber salad and garlic-lemon tahini dressing, this mouth-watering slice of plant-based deliciousness is equal parts spicy veggie pattie and cool, crisp salad on top. As an added bonus, Crosstown's schedule is so jam-packed with fun events that diners at Farm Burger might have the unexpected pleasure of being serenaded by big-band jazz while they eat, as I was. Thanks, Memphis Jazz Workshop.

— Jesse Davis

Farm Burger, 1350 Concourse in Crosstown Concourse, 800-1851

click to enlarge TJ Mulligans
  • TJ Mulligans

Barbecue Burger at TJ Mulligan's

There's a lot going on in this concoction, most of it good. First, there's the base, a seven-ounce slab of grilled ground beef. Plenty of meat, right? Nope. TJ's steps it up by topping the beef patty with a pile of slow-smoked pulled pork. What? Yes. And there's more! Like, jalapeño cream cheese, coleslaw, and a tangy barbecue sauce. That ought to do it, you'd think. But noooo. For good measure, they top this baby with crispy onion straws. It's a crazy mix of textures and savory flavors battling it out in your mouth. Somehow it all works beautifully. But, fair warning: It's huge, and you're probably going to want to split this bad boy with somebody.

— Bruce VanWyngarden

TJ Mulligan's, 1817 Kirby Pkwy, 755-2481

click to enlarge Hopdoddy
  • Hopdoddy

Breakfast Burger at Hopdoddy

If Scrubs taught me about one thing, it's the unsurpassable satisfaction of brinner (in case you live under a rock, that's breakfast for dinner). I can't handle a big morning meal. Sausage is a bit heavy, bacon a tad greasy, pancakes too sweet, and biscuits? Instant nap time. Altogether, certain detriments to my get-up-and-go.

While I love brinner, I'll admit, I was hesitant to order Hopdoddy's Breakfast Burger. Its hefty patty is a combination of ground sausage, smoked ham, and beef — definitely not what you envision when readying to dive into a big, juicy burger. Would it be too sausage-y? Ground ham? But let me tell you, this thing is pretty darn good.

That interesting combo-meat-grind was spiced just right. And things got better from there, with super melty American cheese, herbed mayo, a scrambled egg patty (no runny yolk here), a couple strips of crisp bacon, and, in lieu of hash browns, a stack of crunchy "potato hay," which is just a fancy term for fried shoestring potatoes. It's all the fixings for the best of breakfast plates, but all piled nicely on a soft, fresh-baked bun. Surprisingly, 10/10: would order again.

— Shara Clark

Hopdoddy Burger Bar, 2-6 S. Cooper and 4584 Poplar, 654-5100 and 683-0700

click to enlarge Mortimer's Restaurant
  • Mortimer's Restaurant

Oyster Rockefeller Burger at Mortimer's Restaurant

The Oyster Rockefeller Burger at Mortimer's began as a "pregnancy craving" by the restaurant's owner Christopher Jamieson's wife, Ashley.

The burger consists of an eight-ounce hamburger patty, four fried oysters, jack cheese, and spinach artichoke dip made of sautéed spinach, artichokes, cheddar, and cream cheese.

"I was sitting at home and I was pregnant with our first son, McCall," Ashley says. "I was craving oyster Rockefeller. And you can't eat oysters when you're pregnant."

She tried to think of a way to get that taste of the famous appetizer without the oysters. She called Christopher and said, "Bring a burger with spinach and cheese." But she told him to leave off the oysters.

Ashley loved the result. She told Christopher, "We have to add the fried oysters. This is going to taste like oyster Rockefeller."

"I knew it was going to be fantastic," she says.

"We sell a ton of burgers and we sell a ton of oysters," Christopher says. "This is a way we could put the two together. Kind of a no-brainer."

Christopher originally listed the Oyster Rockefeller burger as a blackboard special. He added it to the menu — permanently — six months later.

McCall, is 4 years old. "So, the oyster burger is as old as he is," Ashley says.

— Michael Donahue

Mortimer's Restaurant, 590 N. Perkins, 761-9321

click to enlarge Dixie Queen
  • Dixie Queen

Cheeseburger at Dixie Queen

Where's a good burger? I ask my kids. "Five Guys," they say. "No," I say, done that. Josh says, "Okay, I go to the Dixie Queen near where I live in Cordova, and when they hand you that brown paper bag with grease spots all over, you know it's going to be good." There's around a dozen of the no-frills joints around town, so, I go to the one on Summer Avenue next to what used to be the Paris Adult Theatre (we shall now respectfully call it the Luciann), and order the single cheeseburger, with everything, regular fries, and, help me Lord, a chocolate shake. Emerging from the window was a brown paper bag with grease spots all over and a cheery "You have a blessed day." The burger was mashed at the bottom of the bag, crinkle fries dumped on top (the wife disapproves as that indicates "frozen" and they were, in fact, not memorable). It was a thinnish patty with gobs of mayo. Some tomato slices and lettuce bits were, I reckon, not fresh from the garden. No matter. It was sloppy and tasty and required every last one of the napkins layered on top of the bag. Get a double or triple if the patty size isn't to your liking. Don't expect your doctor to approve.

— Jon W. Sparks

Dixie Queen, 2442 Summer, 567-4701

click to enlarge Mojo Cafe
  • Mojo Cafe

Byron Donut Burger at Mojo Cafe

I'm kind of a burger snob. I like it plain and simple — just good meat between a bun. So when I ordered the Byron Donut Burger from Mojo Cafe, I was a little wary.

Still, because I adore burgers, and donuts were my first love, I was hopeful about the journey my taste buds would soon embark on.

As the name suggests, this baby is served on a warm glazed donut. The sweet aroma of the donut caught my attention first. Before biting into the work of art in front of me, I paused to admire the craftsmanship of the sliced donut, buttered and toasted to perfection. An egg fried over-hard, melted cheese, six ounces of beef, and slices of candied bacon sit between it.

The donut might seem like the star of the show, but the ground chuck patty, seasoned with care like a burger from your mom's kitchen, is the real MVP. It doesn't matter what accoutrements are on a burger, it won't rise to the occasion if the beef doesn't. Mojo's did.

Mojo bills itself as the "Burger and Sammie Joint where we make the best burger and Sammies you've ever had," and I might have never heard a truer statement.

The donut burger is only sold on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

— Maya Smith

Mojo Cafe, 7124 US Highway 64, 207-6041

click to enlarge LBOE
  • LBOE

The Grizz at LBOE

The Grizz at LBOE is the monster truck of Memphis burgers.

It's bulked up with double everything — double beef patties, double portions of hardwood smoked bacon, and double cheese (yellow and white American). The whole thing is Memphis-ized with a tasteful drizzle of barbecue sauce. It's all dressed out with lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

And, yeah, it is a whole thing. At $14.95, The Grizz is the single most expensive item on the LBOE menu. Its enormity was apparent even as the waitress was carrying it from the kitchen. Its size was enough to raise a few eyebrows from fellow diners. I could swear I heard a low thud as she sat the burger on the table.

How on earth was I going to eat this thing? I decided it wasn't going to be a polite affair, so I simply dove in and did the best I could. You know how your head shakes when you're trying to take too big of a bite? Yep. And I came away with sauce and all that other burgery goodness all over me.

The taste is all-American. It ain't flashy, but it's everything you think a proper burger should be. Neither sleek nor subtle, The Grizz is a bonafide, badass hunger crusher.

— Toby Sells

LBOE, 2021 Madison, 725-0770

click to enlarge Second Line
  • Second Line

The Cheeseburger at Second Line

Anyone ordering a burger at The Second Line by Kelly English should already know it will be out of the ordinary. For one thing, it's not a burger joint, but one of the city's best purveyors of New Orleans cuisine. For another, it's run by a chef who's been celebrated by Food & Wine magazine. Finally, the menu notes that this burger is served "Cooter Brown style."

"It's named after Cooter Brown's Bar in New Orleans," Second Line team member Christopher Williams tells me. "It's an homage to their burger. So it's got beef patties set side by side on our po' boy bread, a little Creole seasoning, salt, pepper, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayonaisse."

But there's an echo of a Memphis mainstay in this burger as well. "It has to meet the standard of the Tops cheeseburger," Williams says. "Kelly was once asked, if he was gonna leave something for Santa Claus, what would it be? And he said a Tops cheeseburger."

Indeed, this gem of a burger captures much of that no-nonsense goodness, which, it turns out, perfectly complements the earthy po' boy qualities of its Crescent City references. With a side of Second Line's epic battered onion rings, it makes for a wholly unique burger epiphany.

— Alex Greene

Second Line, 2144 Monroe, 590-2829

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