The Best Burger I Ever Ate

March 21, 2013 | By | Comments (13)
South's Best Late Night Burger

Courtesy of Southern Living, Photo: Iain Bagwell, Food Styling: Angie Mosier

I’ve been obsessed with burgers lately. You may know that we’re working on a burger story for our July issue, so we’ve been talking about, eating, and evaluating lots of burgers in recent weeks, all unique and all delicious.

That said, I’m sure my burger obsession started with a recent visit to Holeman and Finch Public House in Atlanta. Although the burger is not listed on the menu, it’s not news to anyone that they offer 24 every night beginning at 10 p.m. Now, I’ve heard lots of nay-sayers argue, that’s just a gimmick to move their scraps. And I’ll admit I was willing to buy into that theory until I took the first bite, and wow! I’m a total convert. [Southern Living named this burger the South's Best Late-Night Burger.]

Maybe it helped that I was snacking and drinking at Octopus Bar on Saturday night (a notorious hang-out for Atlanta cooks, my kinda place), and my group happened to meet the former sous-chef of Holeman and Finch. We had to ask: what’s the secret to the burger? Is it worth the hype? To which he sheepishly replied, yeah. Didn’t seem so convincing, so we pressed with more questions.

(I gotta say that I’m very partial to the burgers I make at home, where I start with a mix of ribeye—or sometimes short rib—and hanger steak and grind my own meat. I’m religious about forming the patties ever so delicately, so they don’t become dense hockey pucks as they cook. And I’ve gotten a few compliments on those burgers.)

So naturally, I asked if they grind their own meat. Yes, came the answer. OK, so what’s your grind? Brisket and chuck: 50/50 he replied. And though he dropped the name, White Oak Pastures, as the source of their fantastic meat, in my mind I still felt sure that my burger could stand up to their legendary version.

It may be a little-known fact (outside Atlanta, anyway) that H & F serves an unlimited number of burgers all day on Sunday during brunch/lunch. So when we pulled up, saw what a 2 1/2-hour wait looks like, and ducked straight into the bar to order our burgers with no wait at all, I was still feeling a bit smug.

We struck up a convo with the young ladies sitting next to us, locals, also worshippers of the famed burger. Is it worth all the hype, we asked. A resounding yes was the answer. So we ordered: 2 burgers, please. And with one bite I realized what an idiot I am. It was, without a doubt: The. Best. Burger. I’ve Eaten. Worth every ounce of ink spilled in its praise. House-made buns that are perfectly round, perfectly browned, and perfectly proportioned for the juiciest, meaty-est-tasting patties ever. Yes, I said two patties, but don’t interpret that in a Super-Size Me kind of way. Chef Hopkins and crew start with just the right amount of beef. Then they divide it into two patties so there is more surface area exposed to the grill, resulting in sublime texture—crispy char on the outside and meltingly tender meat inside—and flavor. He also does something mystical with what seems to be American cheese, but I won’t even hazard a guess as to what kind of black magic is going on there. Onions and house-made pickles top off the stack of perfection. I don’t recall lettuce or tomato anywhere in sight, yet there was not a thing missing.

I recently learned there will be three stalls at Turner Field (where the Atlanta Braves play) that will offer Holeman and Finch burgers. And while I’m skeptical whether they can maintain their quality on such a mass scale, you can look for me standing in line, no matter how long the wait.

What’s the best burger you’ve ever eaten?

COMMENTS

  1. Fried Green Tomato Cheeseburger – BeBetsy

    […] Light inspired this post of mine – yes, she got my wheels churning. She recently shared her best-burger-she-ever-had-experience at Holeman and Finch in Atlanta – a house ground 50/50 brisket and chuck, which sounds amazing […]

    December 27, 2013 at 9:22 pm
  2. Fried Green Tomato Cheeseburger | BeBetsy

    […] Light inspired this post of mine – yes, she got my wheels churning. She recently shared her best-burger-she-ever-had-experience at Holeman and Finch in Atlanta – a house ground 50/50 brisket and chuck, which sounds amazing […]

    November 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm
  3. Fried Green Tomato Mozzarella Burger with Remoulade Sauce | Dixie Chik Cooks

    […] Light inspired this post of mine – yes, she got my wheels churning. She recently shared her best-burger-she-ever-had-experience at Holeman and Finch in Atlanta – a house ground 50/50 brisket and chuck, which sounds […]

    September 24, 2013 at 9:16 pm
  4. Kellie

    The BEST burger I ever had was at PJ Clarke’s in NYC! It was simple and perfect and just incredible. A close second was the blue cheese burger at Whale of a Tale in St. Thomas. I sometimes dream about that burger. :-)

    March 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm
    • Julie Grimes

      Let’s start a running list, so folks traveling all around the country can find a good burg:

      Holeman & Finch Atlanta
      PJ Clarke’s NYC
      Tale St. Thomas
      Lunchbox Laboratory Seattle
      Signal Grill — Are you in Montana??? Sorry, I don’t see where it says.
      In-n-Out Centerville, UT

      March 21, 2013 at 4:44 pm
  5. Adam Nettina

    Julie,

    Orioles.

    March 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm
    • Julie Grimes

      Oh, well you’re probably looking more forward to the 2013 season than we RS fans and those evil Yankees!

      March 21, 2013 at 4:41 pm
  6. Tara

    When I lived in Seattle, my friend and I actually went on a Sandwich hunt, looking for the best sandwich in Seattle. We got finished with that then proceeded to burgers. The best burger I have had in Seattle was by far from a place called Lunchbox Laboratory. I don’t know if they grind their own meat, but they do combine different meat. They have what’s called a “DORK” patty, Duck and Pork. They have more combinations there that I can’t remember. They use mayonnaise but make their own versions, example a Pineapple Mayo, might sound weird but it is delicious. It also helps that their shakes are delicious as well and you can “booze” up any shake.
    It was amazing. If you are going on a burger hunt and happen to fall in Seattle, this place is definitely a place to not miss.

    March 21, 2013 at 4:31 pm
    • Julie Grimes

      Got it on my list! Thanks a bunch!

      March 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm
  7. Rob Herdman

    We believe our signature Signal Burger is the best we’ve ever eaten, but then again, we’re a bit biased.
    We use quality ground chuck that’s never frozen. It makes for the tastiest, juiciest burgers we can grill. We use a potato bun that’s slightly toasted. Our Chef Amy’s “secret sauce”, the burgers are char-grilled to desired temp, pickles, red onion, tomato & fresh, spring greens.

    March 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm
    • Julie Grimes

      Hi Rob,

      I love a good burger, and anything with “secret sauce” has my vote. Will have to stop in and sample one!

      March 21, 2013 at 3:48 pm
  8. Adam Nettina

    You talk quite a bit about the physical sensation of eating, describing the taste and paying homage to the quality, sourcing, cooking etc of themeat. Obviously this plays a role in flavor, but when it comes to the best tasting burger I’ve ever had, the fleeting sensation of richly-sweet beef can only be bolstered by the memory of the experience and surroundings. That’s why the best burger I’ve ever had was at an In-N-Out in Centerville, Utah. As a life-long East Coaster, It was my first time to the iconic California chain, and it came with all those “x-factors” of experience that come with sharing a Double-double Animal style with a good friend, all decked out in their 1950s style cap and sporting stickers galore. Those are food memories which far outlive the sensation of taste.

    March 21, 2013 at 1:18 pm
    • Julie Grimes

      Hi Adam,

      I couldn’t agree more. Atmosphere and company both contribute enormously to the whole experience and enjoyment of the food. Thanks for sharing your first In-n-Out experience.

      Since you are a life-long East Coaster, I have just one question for you: Red Sox or Yankees?

      March 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm

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