Travel & Leisure recently awarded Philadelphia the #2 city for burgers and I’ve no doubt we will be #1 next year as the chefs in town are elevating the burger experience. Yes, Philly burgers gets its own post because we are a tough burger town with so many amazing options -if you think the whole cheesesteak question of Pat’s vs. Geno’s gets rough (the right answer is Jim’s on South Street), try coming up with a top 5 list of burgers in this town. We are spoiled for choice and with that here is my top 5 Philly burger list for the downtown Center City area of Rittenhouse Square.
500 degrees – a small spot on Sansom Street, it seats less than 20 at shared tables/counter. The brioche roll tops off my #1 burger in the city. Simply build your own or choose the various specialty burgers cooked to order. See if you can decide on a side of fries (I go back and forth – truffle or sweet potato) or better yet share with a friend and try a few different types. It is a gourmet burger with a good price point.
Smith & Wollensky – in the Rittenhouse Hotel, you may know this chain for their wonderful steaks and seafood but they recently had a $10 burger lunch special (normally $13-$15) which easily lured me in (and a few others in my office). I wouldn’t normally think to go to the fancy steak place for a burger at lunch, but wow, what a burger. It easily jumped into my top 5. Start off with complimentary pretzel bread (bonus!). The burger is served with a cone of fries. The service is classic S&W making you feel special even though you are eating a burger and not a fancy steak. The infamous chocolate cake is meant to be shared if you dare. If I could only drink wine at lunch, it would have made this perfect as S&W has a very comprehensive wine list.
Continental Mid-Town – a classic go to burger served at lunch, it never fails to satisfy especially with bacon and the side of fries. There is a hidden rooftop bar/garden, enter on 18th street door on the red wall and take the elevator to the top. You’ll forget you are in the middle of the city. Great drink list, dinner tapas portions and desserts. My favorites here are too numerous to list but you can’t go wrong.
Good Dog Bar – don’t let the small tavern/bar fool you – the food is good and comforting to go with your beer. There is a hostess to seat you either in the bar area or upstairs. Start with the blueberry cornbread appetizer. The burgers have the distinction of being stuffed with cheese rather than cheese on top. Add a side of sweet potato fries and hope that they have the sea salted caramel brownie back on the dessert menu (I do hate seasonal pastry changes) to end your meal.
Village Whiskey – the burger here has started arguments, I have it in my top 5, while others have it as #1 and passionately defend their ranking. Get the duck fat fries with homemade ketchup to accompany the Angus burger. Best to go on off hours as it is small inside.
Do you have a favorite Philly burger that i should try? or one in your city for when i visit? Please let me know. My happy place is red meat, red wine and chocolate – living in Philly with a plethora of happy places is definitely the good life.