CONTEST: For a chance to win $40 to From Scratch, leave a comment below telling us which of these burgers is your favorite. We'll pick a winner on June 15.
As of this writing, the most expensive hamburger in the world costs $332,000. That’s because the patty was made of billions of lab-grown beef cells. Unfortunately, critics called it “dry and tasteless.”
Ridiculously expensive burgers abound in Las Vegas, of course—the Fleurburger, served at Hubert Keller’s Fleur, costs $5,000: Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffle and “special sauce.” Oh, but it comes with a bottle of Chateau Petrus and Ichendorf Brunello glasses.
That’s kind of cheating. Still, it makes the point that the burger is no longer just Guy Fieri food—beef on a bun has moved up the food chain. Now every fine-dining restaurant worth its pink Himalayan salt has to have a deluxe burger on its menu. And Utah is right on trend.
Here they are, our top 10 favorite local luxe burgers. This is burgers elevated.
Paris Bistro, 1500 S. 1500 East, SLC, 801-486-5585
Burgers and Bourbon, 9100 Marsac Ave., Park City, 435-604-1300
This new addition to the lineup of restaurants at Montage Deer Valley serves what’s in its name: Lots of burger variations are on the menu (organic turkey, free-range bison, seared tuna, black and brown rice), but the star of the show is the beef blend, a proprietary mix of Niman Ranch chuck, ground in-house by the chef and served on a potato roll with Gold Creek cheddar and an assortment of special toppings. The most special? The Lux burger, topped with a slab of foie gras, bourbon caramelized onions, arugula and shaved truffle, for $32. When you see the size of the foie, the price tag seems reasonable. And amazingly, the extravagant flavors were balanced and the bun was not soggy. Do get a whiskey-spiked shake to go with or come after, even if you’re not into bourbon. $32
Pago, 878 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-532-0777
Pago’s burger is globally famous but very local. The towering construction— the patty layered with bacon, Gouda cheese, pickled onion and black garlic aioli —follows the restaurant’s philosophy of local, artisanal and sustainable. And it’s so large it’s hard to open wide enough to take a unified bite that includes all that local goodness. Actually, you kind of have to squeeze the buns to get the thing between your teeth, which causes juices to leak out, which can cause Soggy Bun Syndrome. What can I say? Open wide and eat fast. $14
Garden Cafe, Grand America, 555 S. Main Street, SLC, 801-258-6000
It would be a miss indeed, if a hotel calling itself Grand America didn’t have the national sandwich on its menu. The Grand’s Deluxe burger is on the menu at lunch, absent at dinner, but the GA is a true service establishment: If you want a burger for supper, you can have a burger for supper. It comes, uniquely, topped with house made ricotta, which gives the same creamy mouthfeel as mayonnaise or aioli but with a more delicate texture. Tomato, pickle chips and butter lettuce are on the plate, but the cooked-to-order patty itself features “pepperonatta”, a mix of sautéed red-and-yellow pepper strips. A nice accompaniment is a glass of the lovely Simmonet Febvre Brut rose. Its color sort of ties the burger to the decor. $13
Glitretind Restaurant, Stein Eriksen Lodge, 7700 Stein Way, Park City, 435-645-6455
Chef Zane Holmquist has been making Stein’s Burger the same way for years, and there’s no reason to change a thing: This was one of the first high-dollar burgers on the scene and it remains a classic, with all the components top quality and no oddball frills. Just eight ounces of Angus, cooked reliably to order, topped with aged white cheddar and a pile of crispy fried onions, all on a sheepherder roll. Really, what more do you want? $19
Copper Onion, 111 E Broadway, SLC, 801-355-3282
The Copper Onion Burger is made from Pleasant Creek Ranch wagyu topped with roasted onions and iceberg lettuce. And speaking of leaves on burgers, iceberg is the lettuce foodies love to hate–”watery” and “tasteless” are commonly used adjectives, but they neglect to mention “sturdy.” Butter and Bibb lettuce and most other more highly regarded lettuces give up the ghost the minute they come in contact with hot meat. Iceberg retains its crunch. Copper Onion puts the arugula on the side, as an option to the thick steak fries. This kitchen also makes its own potato rolls. We like to eat this burger at the bar with a glass of the El Jamon Tempranillo. $13
From Scratch, 62 East Gallivan Ave., SLC, 801-538-5090
Following its eponymous philosophy, From Scratch makes its own burger buns and as much of the rest of its burger as possible. (Note: They do not raise their own beef. There is, and should be, a limit to everything.) The smoked Gold Creek cheddar adds depth to the aroma and flavor nicely offset by the sweet crispness of a mound of shoestring fried onions. Shredded iceberg lettuce is a nice touch, as the iceberg retains its crispness and doesn’t pull out and slap you against the chin, as whole leaves are wont to do. $13
Hearth on 25th, 195 Historic 25th Street, 2nd floor, Ogden, 801-399-0088
We tried the Autumn Hearth Burger last fall–a bison patty, with Beehive Seahive cheddar, wild mushrooms, caramelized onion, apple bacon, chutney. But Hearth on 25th creates a new burger for each season, so this spring get your mouth around this: a patty of Cross Quarter Circle Ranch Tunis Lamb and Red Angus Veal with a lemongrass-mint gastrique, lemon basil pesto, a pretzel-dough bun (no sogginess possible), a schmear of goat cheese, a salad of seabeans, watercress, and red onion, a fried egg and—just for the sheer visual drama of it—a cross of charred spring onion. $18.00
9. House Ground 9-oz burger, Bambara
Bambara, 202 S. Main St., SLC, 801-363-5454
The presence of two different gourmet versions on one lunch menu—and none at dinner—gives some indication of how important burgers have become in the world of fine dining. The “regular” burger, a 9-ounce patty of house-ground beef, comes with grilled onions, white cheddar and horseradish creme fraiche, which raises the question of horseradish altogether. As in, where did it go? Horseradish is a perfect offset to the metallic protein taste of rare beef, but we don’t see it much anymore. It’s aioli, aioli, aioli. (See Hot Dish, p. 28) This basic Bambara burger is actually deluxe. $11
The upgrade is based around a patty of American Wagyu, the domestic strain of the famous Japanese cattle breed known for their alleged genetic predisposition to marbling and therefore flavor and juice—well, it adds up to five more dollars. $16
10. J&G Burger, J&G Grill, St. Regis
J&G Grill, St. Regis Deer Valley Resort, 2300 Deer Valley Drive East, Park City, 435-940-5760
It takes longer to valet park, go upstairs to the funicular boarding station, ride the leisurely lift contraption and get seated in the bar than it does to eat this burger, but sometimes, setting is everything. Keeping it simple, the world-famous chef Jean-George Vongerichten and his local chef de cuisine, Shane Baird, offer an understated version of the U.S. classic on the lunch menu and in the bar: a thick patty of medium rare beef topped with beehive cheddar. Lettuce, tomato and pickles on the side. $18
Royal Street, 7600 Royal St., PC, 435-645-6724.
The Maple Bacon BBQ Bison Burger starts with a house-ground natural bison patty. It’s topped with smoked habañero cheddar, sautéed onions, guacamole, barbeque sauce, smoked habañero aioli,all on a “Tuscan” bun, sided with garlic~herb~parmesan shoestring fries. Good luck with that. $18
The Farm at Canyons, 4000 Canyons Resort Dr., PC, 435 649-5400.
The impressively named “Apocalypse Now Burger” piles confit, house-fermented kimchi, hashbrowns and yellow cheese between the buns. Add foie gras for $12 surcharge to the base price of $18.
Shallow Shaft, Alta,
The Shaft’s American Kobe Burger comes on a brioche bun with Beehive aggiano, wild mushrooms, black truffle butter and a pile of super-skinny pommes frites. $18
Black Sheep Cafe, 19 N. University Ave, Provo, 801-607-2485.
There are several burgers on Black Sheep’s menu but our favorite is the “Goat.”Don’t worry—this goat burger is not made of goat meat. It’s a half-pound beef patty stuffed with goat cheese and roasted garlic, topped with portobello mushroom slices as well as fire-roasted red bell pepper, arugula, and adobo mayo, on homemade nanniskadii bread. And what is that, you may wonder. It’s a soft flatbread folded like a taco around the burger. $13
Butcher’s Chophouse, 751 Main St., Park City, 435-647-0040.
The house burger is a gussied-up classic, topped with cheddar (aged white), pickles and onions, bacon aioli, arugula and tomato, served on a kaiser. $16
WEB EXTRA: For a chance to win $40 to From Scratch, leave a comment below telling us which of these burgers is your favorite. We'll pick a winner on June 15. Winner must be able to pick up gift certificate from Salt Lake magazine's offices.