Archive for the ‘Top 10 Boston Burgers’ Category

Top 10 Burgers in Boston List – 2014 Edition

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

So, due to some additional burger exploration that I decided was necessary in order to provide an accurate read on the playing field out there – my annual Top 10 Burgers in Boston list was delayed a couple months. I’m sure you were nervously checking back daily for the update, so here we go.

Each year, The Foodie carefully combs over menus, twitter feeds, and the words of food gurus to seek out the better burgers around the great city of Boston. Then I eat them. What you are about to read is the synthesis of these efforts, taking into account consistency, quality, authenticity of the burger craft, and inventiveness.

Before you enjoy, a few of the usual disclaimers:

  1. Burgers are a highly personal affair. This is just one man’s opinion, but regardless of your preferences, the meals on this list are at least 90% likely to please you, by my estimations.
  2. A little bit about my taste for burgers: I tend to appreciate a meat patty with some thickness and substance to it, and like my burgers to stick close to their roots as a comfort food while offering a little something inventive for some excitement.
  3. Many of my Top 10 are not within Boston proper. In fact, most of the best burgers around are situated in the surrounding cities of Watertown, Cambridge, and the ‘Ville.

A Smattering of Burgers that were Tested by the Foodie, But Didn’t Make the Grade:

  • Tip Tap RoomSteak Burger – Very nice juiciness and texture to the meat, but some weirdness in the flavor profile (veal demi maybe?)
  • Boston Chops Burger – Our server proudly stated that the sauce on this thing was the signature part of the dish…the burger didn’t make the grade and interestingly enough, I really never quite figured out where the sauce was to be found on this thing…
  • Bronwyn – Props to Bronwyn for excellent German and Eastern European fare, but I found the burger here (only available at the bar) to be somewhat inconsistent across tastings. It offered much promise with slaw, sauerkraut, comte cheese and an insane mix of meat varieties in the patty, but they strayed too far from burger roots for my taste.
  • Stoddard’s – I’ve tried the burger here a few times but always find it lacking in flavor, depth, and substance. In fact, I almost forgot to include them here at all because the experience didn’t really stick to my neurons.

Booted from Last Year’s List:

  • Lord Hobo – Major turn towards mediocrity on the burger here since the early days of the lord. Total lack of imagination and a wholly unmemorable experience.
  • Green Street – Honestly, just been a while since I found a reason to come here for the burger, which must mean that others have caught my eye first.
  • Neptune Oyster – Again, one of the better spots for fruits de mer in Boston, but I haven’t found the motivation to enter their doors for something that walks on all fours.

The Top 10 Burgers in Boston of 2014:

1. R.F. O’Sullivan & Son | Time and time again, R.F. and their signature Blackjack Burger capture the spirit of a burger for me. 


2. Craigie on Main | The best haute burger in town. Chef wizardry meets comfort food.


3. JM Curley | Juicy tender burger, Russian dressing, and pickle slices.

4. Strip T’s | Smoked miso, lemon aioli, pickled onion, baller roll. Full review pending.


5. Alden & Harlow | Rave reviews from critics, trademark-worthy smokiness. Hard to get.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 12.02.57 PM

6. Boston Burger Company | A standard favorite with funky flavors and a nod from Rachael Ray.

7. Tasty Burger | Retro-burger stand-out beats out Shake Shack in my opinion.

The Big Tasty

The Big Tasty

8. Kirkland Tap & Trotter | Another Tony Maws burger, smaller than Craigie.


9. Merrill & Co. | Three sliders oozing with juiciness and a baller special sauce.

photo (29)

10. The Blue Ox | Sliders with bacon and gorgonzola dolce out in Lynn. 

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Alden & Harlow: The Secret Burger

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Dutifully, I fulfill my role as a local burger forager – digging through menus and spelunking into restaurant dining rooms to report back on the state of the meat patty around Boston.

With the annual refresh of my Top 10 Burgers in Boston List fast approaching this Fall, I have been picking up the pace of discovery.

* Alden & Harlow has been at the forefront of my hunt for the area’s best burgers for a while now. *

So, follow me fellow foodies, as I put on my meat helmet, flip on my headlamp, and apply my beef gloves…

I’m going in.


  • Sun Brunch…..10:30AM-2:30PM (until they run out)
  • Sun – Wed…..5PM – 1AM (until they run out)
  • Thu – Sat…..5PM – 2AM (until they run out)


One has to be willing to organize their mealtime around the availability of Secret Burger if one wishes to eat Secret Burger. I have been told that only 3 dozen are prepared per night, and have been denied access on one occasion. Here are a few tips on getting some:

  • Arrive right when they open for dinner – that means around 5PM or 5:30.  They informed me over the phone that I would “definitely get the burger” arriving around that timeframe. You just need to be willing to hang with the early bird special crowd.
  • Come to brunch – You are probably more likely to access the burger during a time when people are lured to breakfast-like things….or who said a burger couldn’t be for breakfast – particularly if you add a 60-degree egg on top.


SECRET BURGER* (limited availability)

Our 8oz House Creekstone Grind, Your Faith, House Made Roll – 15


From Above

From Above


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 Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 12.06.21 PM


We live in a world where hamburgers are agonized over for years before hitting restaurant menus. The art of burger-making has become akin to hand-crafting a fine timepiece or weaving an Afghan carpet.

Alden & Harlow’s sandwich is no exception. Make no mistake – each component of the Secret Burger is agonizingly thought-through. Apparently, Scelfo and team tinkered with the burger grind for a year-and-a-half until they arrived at what goes into your mouth today.

Highlights of eating the Secret Burger:

  • House-Made Bun: Hats off to whoever is responsible for creating these on a daily basis in the A&H kitchen. This is about as close to perfection as a burger bun can be.  Soft yet sturdy, this bun is the perfect instrument through which to cradle the meat.
  • Burger Patty: The most stand-out aspect of the meat patty is the signature smokiness that Alden & Harlow injects into it. I will not speculate further as to how they do it – but Chef Scelfo says it’s a closely guarded secret. The meat comes from Creekstone Farms which is a producer of Black Angus cattle that emphasizes humane treatment of the animals. I also respect the fact that the patty is minimally-seasoned to allow the beefy-ness to shine through as the main event of any burger. I was unsure of how I felt about the seasoning issue at first, but have come around to appreciate Alden’s perspective.
  • The Sauce: A wonderful mixture that leans towards the thousand-island profile, the sauce incorporates things like ketchup, aioli, pecorino cheese, and anchovy. I like.


  • The Cabot Cheese Tuile: Though inventive and flavorful in it’s own right, my personal preference is for melty cheese on my burger. Call me a purist…


This burger is true to its roots yet inventive in all the right ways.  A pleasure to eat and an excellent addition to the Boston-area burger scene. A “must” for local burger enthusiasts, food writers/bloggers, and any carnivore. Yelpers – stay away and stick to reviewing your local shoe cobbler, gas station or McDonald’s.

Other Opinions:

Boston Magazine“Anatomy of a secret burger” 

Josh Ozersky“More than lived up to its reputation”

Boston Burger Blog “New favorite burger in town”

Top 10 Worthy?  Yes

The Top 10 Burgers in Boston List – 2013

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

It’s that time of year again – ‘tis the season of lists and countdowns.

A fat old man checks his list to see if you are naughty or nice. Every mag, blog, e-zine, and newspaper (remember those?) publishes the “best of” one category or another. Your family members rank the gifts they’ve received from best to worst…wait, your family doesn’t do that too?

Sheepishly, I tag along with this seasonal trend and publish my 2013 Best Burgers in Boston List.

There have been some changes since the 2012 List hit the street last year:

  • Sniff, sniff, gurgle *tear* Radius has closed. They took one of the best meatwiches in Boston with them.
  • The Gallows gets the boot. Turns out their food is a bit overhyped.
  • Bergamot also gets bumped. Not because they don’t have a great burger, but because others are better.
  • Notable up-and-comer JM Curley gets crowned the #3 spot.
  • Newcomers to this year’s Top 10 include Tasty Burger, the Blue Ox, and the Tap & Trotter.
  • Notably absent: Shake Shack. Read why, here.

While there have been modifications, a few things remain the same about the burger scene in Boston according to this humble beef nerd:

  • R.F. O’Sully’s remains at the top of the list. Word.
  • Craigie on Main proves difficult to unseat from the #2 spot.
  • Boston Burger and JM Curley sling mean burgers and still have a solid following.

Before you read on, know that The Foodie has 3 primary criteria for judging a burger:

  • Authenticity of Craft – a burger should stay true to its roots as a comfort food.
  • Only the Finest Beef – the burger patty must be well-seasoned, juicy, and made from only the best beef.
  • Ingenuity of Design – a good burger adds some hint of creativity and uniqueness that sets it apart from the rest.

A rating has been assigned to each burger below on each of these dimensions, where 1=piss poor and 10=divine joy.

1.    R.F. O’Sullivan & Son

Spoiler alert: you will probably never see another burger in Boston outshine R.F.’s on this blogger’s list. The Blackjack burger (Cajun spices, Creole mayo, melty cheese and standard toppings) is a giant among men.

  • Authenticity of Craft:  10
  • Only the Finest Beef:   10
  • Ingenuity of Design:    10

Total Score: 30

2.    Craigie on Main

If you manage to score this elusive burger you will not be disappointed. Tony Maws and team have constructed something beautiful that wins the award for best “haute burger” without even thinking twice.

  • Authenticity of Craft:   9
  • Only the Finest Beef:   10
  • Ingenuity of Design:    10

Total Score: 29

3.    JM Curley

Many eaters in the know will say that JM Curley makes the best burger in Boston. They have good reason to hold that opinion. The Curley burger stands out for mouth-watering juiciness and a perfect bun-to-Russian dressing-to-pickles-to-cheese ratio. A pleasure to eat.

  • Authenticity of Craft:   9
  • Only the Finest Beef:   9
  • Ingenuity of Design:    9

Total Score: 27

4.    Boston Burger Company

BBC unabashedly assembles artery-clogging man food that just tastes so damn good. I recommend ordering the hella-spicy Inferno Burger or the Hot Mess (I’ll leave you in suspense on what goes into that one).

  • Authenticity of Craft:   8
  • Only the Finest Beef:   8
  • Ingenuity of Design:    10

Total Score: 26

5.   Tasty Burger

In a shocking turn of events, Tasty Burger skyrockets to the #5 spot in its first year on the list. I admit that even I was surprised by the simply-conceived retro burger served up here. Somehow these guys pack oodles of flavor into a thin-patty burger with cheese, diced onion/pickles, lettuce, tomato, and a classic seeded bun. An awesome addition to this year’s list.

  • Authenticity of Craft:  10
  • Only the Finest Beef:    8
  • Ingenuity of Design:     8

Total Score: 26

6.    Kirkland Tap & Trotter

Is it mad for me to put two of Tony Maws’ burgers on this year’s list? Perhaps so, but I stand by my decision. The slightly smaller, more understated burger at KT&T morphed a couple different times in terms of toppings across the few times that I’ve been here, but is guaranteed to deliver the signature charm and technique that only Maws can muster.

  • Authenticity of Craft:   9
  • Only the Finest Beef:    9
  • Ingenuity of Design:     8

Total Score: 26

7.    The Blue Ox

There’s gotta be something special about a burger to make a Bostonian travel out to Lynn to eat it. The Blue Ox Burgers are that special. I mean, where else in the area can you get two sliders oozing with gorgonzola dolce, crowned with applewood smoked bacon and slathered in lemon/thyme aioli? Nowhere.

  • Authenticity of Craft:    7
  • Only the Finest Beef:    8
  • Ingenuity of Design:     9

Total Score: 24

8.    Lord Hobo

Lord Hobo’s thick and juicy burger is notable for being served on a super-soft brioche bun and for sporting some baller cheddar.

  • Authenticity of Craft:    9
  • Only the Finest Beef:    8
  • Ingenuity of Design:     7

Total Score: 24

9.    Neptune Oyster

Fried oysters on a thick, tender, divinely-constructed burger? Yes, please.

  • Authenticity of Craft:    7
  • Only the Finest Beef:    8
  • Ingenuity of Design:     9

Total Score: 24

10. Green Street

Green Street’s burger represents the double cheeseburger category with its signature combo of slaw, bacon, and Russian dressing.

  • Authenticity of Craft:   8
  • Only the Finest Beef:    7
  • Ingenuity of Design:     8

Total Score: 23

Kirkland Tap & Trotter – KTT & Me

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Recommends

Dude – I had the craziest dream last night.

The Grill.

I was wandering through a corner of Somerville one Fall night and caught a glimpse of a restaurant through the fog. It had a sign with a steak knife, a fork, and a fireball.

I pushed through the doors and stepped inside.

There was a wood-fired grill (complete with adjustable cranks) powering the kitchen.

A familiar chef was inspecting the dishes as they made their way out to a floor of hungry Somervillains.

— It was Tony Maws. —

I wondered – what’s going on at Craigie on Main? Is the place burning down?  Squid tentacles, pig’s heads, snouts and trotters flying everywhere?

It appeared Chef Maws had grabbed a few of those trotters out ‘da air and planted them in a few recipes the next town over.

There were a bunch of bizzaro versions of people I know sitting at the tables. I took a seat at one of them and grabbed a menu.

The FOOD list looked like this:

We ordered. There were seasonal baller mushrooms on the menu and a new burger variation. A flurry of plates started arriving from smiling servers in flannel shirts. A Left Hand Milk Stout from the tap arrived in front of me. Under the dim lights, we ate these things:

Three Large Sardines.

Rare to find in many restaurants, KT&T grilled up three lull fishies for me. They arrive incredibly moist and flavorful despite a light hand on the seasonings…

Here's Lookin' At You, Kid.

Roasted Root Veggies.

In my dreamy haze I thought that the Trotter was only a meat-lovers palace. Turns out that wood-fired grill does amazing things to vegetables. The root veggies we ordered were scantily dressed and delightful – just like the imaginary babe beside me.

Matsutake Mushrooms.

Oh, and did we mention that our “mushroom guy” sent us some baller matsutake mushrooms today? Boom! A truly humbling and slightly spiritual experience took place as I savored the rare act of eating wood-fired fungi over a nutty pesto.


The Burger.

As if things couldn’t get better – a burger arrived. It was a simple enough affair from the outside – poppy bun, provolone, horseradish cream, and a few thin slices of tater on the side. But that patented meat-wizardry that Chef Maws brings to the kitchen was definitely present in every bite of this tender, well-constructed patty from heaven.







Choucroute Garni.

The meats kept rolling in – next we had a slab of pork belly, two types of sausage, and kraut along with a trio of house-made mustards.

Skate Wing.

The meal finally devolved into a hearty bowl of fish and clams with beans and smoked tomatoes.

There were cheers, beer spilling, laughs, and huzzahs all around as my REM-friends and I devoured our meal.

As with most dreams, in retrospect it moved quite quickly.

Next we move into one of those fast-frame camera shots where I speed-up and slow-down walking my way out of the restaurant (you know, that film effect that they used to show in every episode of cribs).

Fog clears. I awake.

Not sure if it was all real or not. But I will be adding a new burger to my Top 10. I’ve got a new joint where I’d love to call myself a reg’lar. I can smell the wood fire already.

Tasty Burger – The Back-to-School Burger

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

I’m loving the retro-burger movement.

There have been many valiant efforts in recent years to deliver the promise of the quick-service burger joint without the side effects of McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, and the other usual suspects. You may be familiar with some of the following symptoms after past experiences with said perpetrators:

  • Diabetes
  • Fast-Food Hangover
  • Slothfulness and general malaise
  • Muffin top
  • Wicked and sinful thoughts

One of the best-known examples of the retro-burger movement is Shake Shack, which failed to really wow me based on sampling the goods sold at their new Chestnut Hill location.

Tasty Burger, however, definitely drilled a sustainable, high-quality, hormone-free, responsibly-sourced mouthful of retro-burger directly into my soul.

Walking out the door after eating my Tasty Burger, I felt like I had just wrapped-up a swell date spent making out with my steady girl three-years my junior at the drive-thru neighborhood burger-and-fountain-soda place in our small town of Plainville, Indiana.


Tasty Burger is a local burger joint with three locations in Harvard Square, Fenway, and Southie.  The enterprise responsible for this grand establishment is the Franklin Restaurant Group, which runs both Citizen Public House and the Franklin Café – two other beloved local restaurants.


Tasty Burger features a selection of retro-burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs curiously called “shafts”, sides, shakes and draft beers. Burgers are made from a 1/3 lb. of certified all-natural beef derived from cows that were never, ever, ever fed growth-hormones or antibiotics.

The signature burger here is called the “Big Tasty” and consists of a classic beef patty, cheese, diced onions and pickles, tomato and ‘tasty sauce’ which is the standard mix of ketchup, mayo and secrets.

You can also choose from a wide variety of other burger variations such as the Spicy Jalapeno, BBQ Onion, Kahuna Burger (complete with pineapple, grilled red onion, and teriyaki), and, yes, Veggie and Turkey Burgers too.

What differentiates us here at Tasty Burger from the pack? Besides our delicious selection of burgers, sandwiches and snacks, we offer a full selection of dank beers on tap including Left Hand Milk Stout, Brooklyn Lager, Ommegang Belgian IPA, and Lagunitas IPA. We also may be the ONLY thing open in the greater Boston area until 4AM.

Come on down today, tonight, or tomorrow morning!


The Big Tasty burger sends forth a perfect mouth-feel that combines the following:

  • Plentiful melty cheese
  • Tender, juicy, well-seasoned thin-ish burger patty
  • Salty kick of onion and pickle
  • Flavorful punch of special sauce
  • Cool massage of tomato and lettuce
  • Soft caress of pillow-y seeded burger bun

The Big Tasty


One burger not enough? Try the Sack of 5 deal that will get you five hamburgers for $20 bucks.

Tuition costs got you down? Try the Starvin’ Student deal: one hamburger or cheeseburger, a can of beer, and fries for 10 bucks.


Tasty Burger is mighty good. I will be adding the Big Tasty to my Top 10 Burgers in Boston List (stay tuned for the latest rev. later this year).

Students, I hope you’ve enjoyed this pre-reading for the Fall semester. Long-live the retro-burger and wishing you much fun and success in the academic year ahead.

The Blue Ox – Magically Sweeping You Off Yer Feet to Lynn

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Location: Lynn, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Recommends

In the history of this blog, I’ve taken you far outside the city limits of Boston in pursuit of good food. We’ve flown out of Logan together multiple times – remember those hotdogs in Chicago, those lobster rolls in Portland, the ceviche in Lima? Remember our pastries and romance in Paris (hehe)?

Well today, my friends in wanderlust, I am magically sweeping you off your feet to…well, Lynn.

After winding our way up the majestic Route 1, we found ourselves in downtown Lynn and settled into our seats at the Blue Ox – today’s destination dining spot.

As you might imagine, this neighborhood spot in Lynn didn’t enter my food dar by way of Thrillist, Eater, or other local food bloggers even – it landed on my “To Try” list the old school way – through the word-of-mouth grapevine. Which is fitting given the fact that chef/owner Matt O’Neil got his culinary career started on Martha’s Vineyard before manning kitchen battle stations at No. 9 Park, The Butcher Shop, and Copia.

Together with his wife and chef de cuisine Guaracyara Pimenta (aka “G”), Matt has an immensely popular, unpretentious, and fun thing going on in Lynn.

Their menu is eclectic and melds together your favorite gastropub, Italian joint, and salty New England seafood spot down by the wharf.

For those solely interested in food pictures and a brief blurb on the dishes – The highlights of my eating experience here were as follows:

  • Fried Maitland Mountain Farm Pickles, grilled lemon & thyme aioli, and aged balsamic. One of the best beer pairings I’ve ever tasted, delightfully juicy, well-spiced, and nicely fried. These picklers are actually based out of Salem, FYI. If you like the pickles, you can get them in a spicy martini here too.

  • The Blue Ox Burgers. Seriously in the running for my Top 10 Burgers list of 2013, these are two quarter-pounder sliders stuffed with gorgonzola dolce, topped with applewood smoked pig strips, and slathered in lemon/thyme aioli. Served on a fluffy brioche bun with fries and another awesome MM F pickle. The best part about these burgers is that the gorgonzola basically explodes into your mouth as you bite hungrily into your slider. Seriously exciting. Delightfully unique.

Oozing Gorgonzola w/ Each Bite

  • Lobster Tacos. Served in grilled tortilla with avocado, diced tomato, scallion, chipotle aioli, and lime.

Other stuff that caught my eye for the next time here:

  • Spicy tuna tartare with cucumber, scallion, cilantro, chive cream, chili sauce and house-made chips
  • Blue Ox clam chowder with bacon, Tabasco, chive
  • The “Sin” burger with bacon, swiss, and truffle aioli
  • Pan roasted cod with wild mushroom risotto and fennel arugula salad

In the end, similar to Paris, Lima, and Chicago – the Ox was well worth the journey. I’m beginning the think that I should continue expanding my local radius outside of Boston, Cambridge, and the ‘Ville to keep bringing you hidden gems outside the city proper.

Get ready – you might be hearing soon about places in Lowell, Framingham, Milford, and who knows where else?

Build meat burgers, and I will come.

The Top 10 Burgers in Boston List – 2012 Elections

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Well, dear readers, not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve been slowly amassing a list of burgers in the Boston area that I feel is worthy of publishing for your eating pleasure.

It’s nearly election day and in case you haven’t had enough wall-to-wall coverage of the political machine in action over the last few months, here’s another politically-themed piece of commentary for you.

But rather than insane hair styles we’ve got funky sauces and toppings…instead of mud we’re slinging house-made ketchup…we have burgers for everyman and burgers for the top 1%…rather than the usual pollster questions we’re asking “Are your burgers better now than they were four years ago?”

There really is an ideological divide in the way people think about burgers these days. Some like a flat patty, some go for the “haute burger” and refuse to spend less than $20 on their meat fix, others dream of something closer to the family barbeques of yesteryear.

So, in the world of beef patties as in the world of voters, the list is only as good as the person who writes it. Before you read on, here are the hot-button burger issues that helped these spots get voted onto this Top 10 list:

  • A dedication to the fine art and science of creating a burger that is true to the roots of what a burger should be – down home comfort joy that is better than cuddling with a snuggie.
  • If deviating from comfort food bliss, creating a twist and adding something unusual that makes your burger stand out from the rest
  • Demonstrating a bias towards the fatter, ball-shaped burger over the painfully thin variety
  • Using only the finest beef cooked by veritable grill meisters
  • Being unafraid to really cook a burger RARE.

With all that prefacing behind us, here it is, your Top 10 Burger List after a long hard-fought campaign:

1.       R.F. O’Sullivan & Son

There is no burger on earth that tastes better than the Blackjack at RF’s. A Cajun-spiced burger with spicy Creole mayo, melty cheese, and all the standard toppings. After hundreds (nay thousands) of beef patties across several states and countries over the years, these guys remain at the top of my list.

2.       Craigie on Main

Whereas RF’s is the king of the comfort burger, Craigie really does make the best haute-burger creation in Boston. It’s true. This mysterious burger that lurks only on the bar menu and frequently runs out of stock is packed with culinary wizardry yet still manages to stay true to what a burger really should be.

3.       Radius [No Longer Available – Restaurant Closed as of 6.26.13]

In perhaps one of the most brilliant twists on the original I’ve ever seen, Radius slathers their burger in horseradish sauce and lightly fried onion strings. Decadent, inventive, and at $20 it is the real reason why Occupy was protesting right around the corner.

4.       Boston Burger Company

Another spot that cooks up amazing twists on the classic burger while staying true to burger 101. I like the Inferno and have heard much noise about the Hot Mess, a burger topped with Sweet potato fries, chopped pickles, jalapeños, bacon, red onion, shredded lettuce and thousand island dressing (just avoid going on a date afterwards).

5.       JM Curley

This newish player in the burger game slings a very respectable comfort burger that is juicy as hell and served simply with Russian Dressing and pickles.

6.       Lord Hobo

This g-pub in Cambridge cooks up an incredible, flavorful burger wearing Irish cheddar and sleeping between two peppered challah buns.

7.       Green Street

Green Street makes the list as the only real thin-patty burger in this year’s election. But add the fact that it’s a double-decker topped with slaw, bacon, and Russian dressing and we’ve got ourselves a winner.

8.       Neptune Oyster

You still have room in your gut for a huge burger after three dozen oysters, right? One of the top local restaurants in the shellfish game pays homage to their namesake by topping their burger with two fried oysters. Bomb-dig.

9.       Bergamot

Another mysterious hard-to-get-bar-menu-only burger that stole my heart away. Made with brisket and bone marrow, this thing is insanely rich but good to the last bite and worth pursuing with gusto.

10.   The Gallows

This g-pub in the South End serves up a comfort “Our Way” burger that leans to the thin side but is a joy to eat and keeps with tradition.

The Gallows – A Brief History of the Gastropub

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

§  A Brief History of the Gastropub  §

A portmanteau of the words gastronomy and pub, the term gastropub originated in the United Kingdom in the late 20th century.

Like when the first Cro-Magnons discovered fire by rubbing two stones together, two Londoners stumbled upon a concept that would forever change the human race when they found you could please Englishmen with the drunken munchies by rubbing a pub and a kitchen together.

According to culinary beer lover’s lore, the first gastropub was born in Clerkenwell, London with the revolutionary “Steak-over” of the Eagle Pub.

The concept quickly spread far and wide when restaurateurs and pub owners alike stumbled upon an equation that puts Einstein to shame:

Dressing up a bar + employing a real chef + good beer + putting manly food on a menu =  Scrooge McDuck-like Riches

Because words and trends travel quickly across the anglo nations of the world, the gastropub movement hit the United States at the turn of the 2nd millennium.

Today, you can find a g-pub in nearly any American city worth their salted fish ‘n chips, including that ever-historic town where our forefathers first raised their middle fingers in unison to the British empire – Boston.

I suppose us grizzly, bearded New England patriots have come to a point of compassion and forgiveness with our better-mannered cousins across the pond, because the gastropub is the biggest food phenomenon to hit the Bean since clam chowder.  

In what has seemed like an explosion, Boston has witnessed the opening of Citizen Public House, Meadhall, Foundry on Elm, Saloon, Stoddard’s, Russell House Tavern, Five Horses, Lord Hobo, JM Curley, Park, and the Tip Tap Room. As I pound out these words, there is likely another gastropub under construction.

Today we turn our attention to the Gallows – a SoWA (South of Washington) South End destination that is one of the pioneers of the g-pub trend in the area. These guys are among the group of restaurants getting it right…

When Urrg and Gruurg first found fire, their cro-colleagues must have banged rocks together without success. Modern man suffers from the same issue, and too often gastropubs end up hitting the beer side without paying enough attention to the quality of the eats.

Unfortunately, most Boston g-pubs (think Russell House, Foundry on Elm, Park, Saloon) end up being simply snazzy places to drink a craft beer along with a nibble or two rather than propelling the food to the forefront.

The Gallows definitely joins Citizen Public House, JM Curley, Stoddard’s and Lord Hobo by successfully copying a technique that will someday lead to the next iteration of human kind.

Gallows presents a chill, classy, dimly-lit setting in which to enjoy good food and beer. With a nice menu that features several meat-and-cheese-laden “boards” (we’ll cover the charcuterie trend in a separate post), a few versions of the Canadian Classic poutine, sandwiches, burgers, and slightly more dainty dishes like grilled octopus and ginger soy tofu – the Gallows has something for both beer-bellied gluttons and vegetarians (good thing beer is plant-based).

I specifically ventured here for one item and one item only – the Our Way burger. A simple affair that is cooked in the West Coast thin tradition and topped with cheddar, griddled onion and pickles, the Our Way burger is a commendable thing that should be tried by any burger enthusiast. In fact, I have named it to my closely scrutinized and ever-evolving Top Ten Burgers in Boston List. I was equally pleased by the Pretty Things IPA and Duvel I enjoyed on draft.

Gastropub Done "Our Way"

As mankind continues to bang pubs and kitchens together to form sparks of frothy pints, fried food, and griddled meat parts, let’s keep learning from our less coordinated cave dwellers and really whip up flames with some decent food coming out of the kitchen.

JM Curley – “Say Hello to my Lille Fren”

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

The quest for the Top 10 Burgers in Boston continues – and JM Curley just made the list.

Curley, marked by a black top hat, is an approachable and understated bar/restaurant serving-up a limited but very well-executed  menu.

Any unassuming Bostonian innocently walking in here for a post-desk-jockeying-bevvy will be simply blown away with the food. I mean – Curley really is a hidden gem that I imagine hasn’t been largely discovered outside the realm of us local dining geeks and food blog dweebs.


The Burger. As unassuming as JM Curley itself, this thing is a simple affair hidden under a nice coating of melted cheddar cheese that features:

  • Nice-sized thick baller quality beef patty
  • Griddled onions
  • Nice slather of russian dressing and pickles
  • Sesame-seeded soft burger bun

But with the first bite you immediately notice something special. As if that melted coating of cheddar parted and said “Say hello to my lille fren”

  • So tantalizing juicy the savory meat liquid will practically knock your face off.
  • The Russian flair, soft bun, pickles and cheddar are a nice complement to the meat but do not overpower the true star in any way
  • The Curley Kitchen pulls this baby off without the slightest hint of pretentiousness. They stay true to what a burger really is – a comforting cuddly hunk of joy that you tuck into with glee.


Happy Birthday, Mr. President

As if the burger wasn’t enough. Curley floored me again during the appetizer round with something I had never seen before – Cast Iron Cornbread. This dish comes out served in a little mini skillet and literally must be grabbed from the oven by the servers on their way to the floor. So amazingly soft and topped with melty butter, honey and black pepper.  My head was spinning.


When Corn and Bread Get Tantric

In other news, Curley presents a respectable beer menu and features regular specials including burgers (the night we ate there they were touting a lamb burger).

Curley was so full of surprises that they rocked my worldview, changed my religious orientation, and had me questioning the meaning of life by the time I wandered back out onto Temple Place bewildered.

Hats off to you Curley, hats off.

Craigie on Main – The Burger.

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

I am a man who loves the down-home comfort of a well-made burger. When I spend any significant amount of time abroad, the one Amuurican dish I crave is a nice succulent meat patty. When I tuck into a good burger all sorts of pleasure zones light up in my brain, my entire body fills with warmth, and images of childhood cookouts flicker around me.

For the experience highlighted above, I keep coming back to places like R.F. O’Sullivans, but I definitely enjoy a higher-end gourmet burger as much as the next b-snob.

But a “haute” burger still needs to stay true to its roots as traditional comfort food. It still needs to bring me close to tears with childhood nostalgia and blanket me in a warm tingle.

Too often, an upscale joint will pack their burger so full of foie gras it becomes unrecognizable…or they’ll invent some crazy sauce that distracts from the experience, or they’ll serve it on a croissant or French toast or some wacky shit like that.


I was initially lured by Boston Burger Blog’s bold claim that this was the best burger in Boston.

Finally, the elusive Craigie Burger came within range of my bite. And I loved it. Some C.B. Facts:

  • Only served at the bar, bar tables, and for brunch. They are strict about this.
  • Limited quantity – so come for an early dinner Tues-Thurs or hit Craigie for brunch
  • It’s one of the most costly burger meals you’ll eat around – but worth twice what you spend.
  • The burger is life changing – featuring small-farm cheddar, a perfect house-made bun, mace ketchup, and nicely salted steak fries
  • The burger patty is reportedly loaded with every chef’s secret trick you could think of. I’d go into it more, but you’re better off just enjoying the burger in ignorant bliss.
  • Pay a few bucks extra to add the house-smoked bacon. Totally worth it.






Craigie manages to deliver a luscious pimped-out posh burger – taking just the right amount of risk and creativity to make it their own while remaining true to what a burger really is: soul-warming, child-reducing, heart-pleasing goodness that encompasses all of humanity and inspires world peace.