Best Burger Chains in America
I try to eat healthy most of the time. That’s why I eat at home so often. It’s just healthier.
But, when I eat out, I have two simple rules. First, it needs to be something I can’t reasonably make for myself at home. I rarely eat salads at restaurants, because I can throw together a pretty decent salad at home. And, second, I’m not going out to eat healthily. That is, if I’m hitting up Chick-fil-A, I’m not getting the grilled chicken sandwich. I’m going big with the original fried version. But, hey, that’s just me.
Because of my two rules, I’ve become a bit of a burger connoisseur through the years. I love a good, greasy burger along with fries and a chocolate shake. Sounds fatty, right? It is. Trust me. But, if you eat at home often enough, it’s a reasonable splurge that’s well worth the calories.
So, where do I love getting a burger? Not McDonald’s. And not Wendy’s. And not Jack in the Box. That’s for sure. No, I want a quality burger, and here are my favorite 5 places to find one.
5. Five Guys
Five Guys takes the rumpled, greasy burger joint factor to extremes. I really like their stuff, but my bag it comes in is often translucent because of the grease overruns. Also, I also feel a little sick to my stomach after eating at Five Guys.
The fries are probably my favorite part about eating here. They are fresh cut, and they tend to have that tasty brownness that you won’t find at most fast food joints. Again, really greasy, but eat at Five Guys in moderation and maybe it won’t affect you too much.
I’ll definitely eat at Five Guys in a pinch or when friends want to go there, but I’ll choose the others on this list ahead of Five Guys when given the chance.
4. Shake Shack
I first fell in love with Shake Shack before I ate there. That’s because I love the movie Something Borrowed, and two of the characters meet their often (she even takes Shake Shack from New York City across the Atlantic to London after he moves there).
And I really enjoy Shake Shack. It’s so much better than what you’ll find at standard-issue burger joints like Burger King and McDonald’s. The shakes at Shake Shack measure up to those at In-N-Out, but it’s the actual burger that I find lacking.
That’s not to say the Shake Shack burger isn’t good. It is. It just isn’t great like the ones at my top few choices. Love me some Shake Shack. Love the other three ahead of it on this list even more.
3. Habit Burger
You may not have heard about Habit Burger, which is a relative newcomer to the burger chain world. Habit Burger is California-based, and it operates restaurants in only a handful of states, Arizona, Utah and New Jersey included — so they’re hard to find. I found it on a quick weekend trip to the Los Angeles area recently.
But, man, Habit Burger is delicious. It’s a lot like In-N-Out in concept, and I still think In-N-Out is a little bit better. But, before In-N-Out grew east out of California and finally arrived in Texas, I would dream about it. That’s kind of the way I feel about Habit Burger now.
Make sure to try their caramelized onions, which are to die for. Other than that, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu — it’s all about personal preference and taste.
There’s a certain freshness to In-N-Out that can’t be beat. The restaurants feel nice and clean and fresh, and the workers are polite and friendly. The lettuce and tomatoes taste crisp. It’s just such a cool experience.
I love the concept of a hidden menu, too, they I rarely order off of it. And I will say this: In-N-Out is not my No. 1 burger chain, but it does have the best overall burger-fries-shake mix. I would put its threesome over my No. 1, because my No. 1 doesn’t make very good shakes.
Also, if Shake Shack is my Something Borrowed burger fixation, In-N-Out is my Big Lebowski choice. Here’s a clip (andn please pardon the foul language … the F-word is a supporting actor in the Big Lewbowski):
Anyway, all that to say: In-N-Out is wildly popular for a reason, and I love it. But there’s one burger chain whose burgers I’ve adored since I was a little girl. See No. 1 below …
Founded in Corpus Christi in 1950, Whataburger is a fast food chain touched by the Gods. The meat is grilled to perfection. The buns are large and fresh. You can add jalapenos (and I do), and you can craft your burger just the way you want.
And, I love this: the burger stretches out large and flat rather than tall and fat, which is perfect for eating on the go. This is fast food after all, right? And the fries are always crispy and piping hot, and they do something to the ketchup that makes it taste like heaven.
This is quintessential Texas, and you can also find locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma. They offer up a rotating menu of novelty burgers and sandwiches if you ever want something off the beaten path.
If you’ve never had the Whataburger experience, I urge you to get one as soon as possible. This is fast food that’s so worth the calories, and it’s a burger and fries that you certainly can’t replicate at home. The shakes leave something to be desired, but the rest of the experience more than makes up for that shortcoming.
Final Thoughts on the Best Burger Chains in America
Burgers are highly personal. There’s probably someone reading this who hates Whataburger and who thinks that Five Guys got jobbed. And that’s OK. The reason there are so many thriving burger joints today is that they each have their own loyal followings.
Did I miss your favorite burger joint? Hate one of the ones on this list? Let us know in the comments section below, or you can always use our contact page to send a direct message.