The burger – beloved, satisfying, comforting – is quintessential American food.
The building blocks are fairly simple: juicy ground beef sandwiched between two halves of a bun.
Then the fun starts.
It could remain a simple sandwich, a humble hamburger, with standard add-ons: mustard, ketchup, pickles.
Or, it could become a well-dressed multilayered creation, elevated, almost, to fine dining, with all kinds of accoutrements – from caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, bacon and avocado to egg and cheese – sliced, fried, crumbled, melted into a sauce.
From a few fast-food menus to gastropubs and restaurants, here are seven scrumptious burgers, plus a handful of honorable mentions.
This isn’t a definitive list by any means, and it’s completely unscientific. But, it’s a roundup of a few local favorites. How many of them have you tried?
Durkin’s Liquor Bar – The $15 single burger on the dinner menu at this downtown vintage-inspired diner features two patties, dill pickle, American cheese and dill mayo as well as house-cut fries on the side. It’s presented with a knife stabbed through its center, and it’s absolutely glorious. Add house-made bacon or a fried egg or both for a little bit extra. 415 W. Main Ave. Call (509) 863-9501.
Hogwash Whiskey Den – The $12 fried cheddar burger at this new place, in the Washington Cracker Co. building, comes with a slab of fried cheese that melts over butter lettuce, aioli and a thick, juicy patty. 304 W. Pacific Ave. (509) 389-7137.
Wild Sage American Bistro – At $16, it isn’t cheap, but oh, man, is it good. This upscale yet hearty beast of a burger features a half-pound of American Kobe beef and house-made pickle on a house-made onion bun and comes with hand-cut fries. (Consider splitting it, so you have room for a slice of the restaurant’s signature coconut cake, which you can split, too.) 916 W. Second Ave. (509) 456-7575.
Wandering Table – The $13 WT burger at Adam Hegsted’s contemporary American eatery in Kendall Yards is topped with smoked mayo, tomato jam, bacon, cheddar and mushrooms. Yes, please. 1242 W. Summit Parkway. (509) 443-4410.
Ruins – The dinner menu at Tony Brown’s charming 1930s-style diner changes weekly. But the $8 bacon burger has become a popular lunch staple and here’s why: Tillamook cheddar, pickles and pleasingly pungent and tangy garlic mayo. Add an egg for another dollar. 825 N. Monroe St. (509) 443-5606.
Churchill’s Steakhouse – Corn-fed Midwestern Angus and Hereford steaks range from $36 to $65 at this elegant downtown establishment. But on Wimpy Wednesdays, customers can enjoy $7 burgers all night in the lower-level lounge. Check Churchill’s Facebook page for details. 165 S. Post St. (509) 474-9888.
Hudson’s Hamburgers – Burger joints come and go, but this classic, cash-only, no-frills hole-in-the-wall has been grilling patties since 1907, so it must be doing something right. Choose from a hamburger, cheeseburger, double hamburger or double cheeseburger, but do not ask for fries; they’re not on the menu. Technically, tried-and-true Huddy’s is in Coeur d’Alene, but it’s also an Inland Northwest institution, so it’s included here.207 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene. (208) 664-5444.
Downriver Grill – It’s difficult to pin down; the chef’s special “Burger of the Moment” is always changing. Check out super-stacked variations on its Instagram feed, and keep in mind that Wednesday is happy hour all day with $10 burgers. 3315 Northwest Blvd. (509) 323-1600.
Prohibition Gastropub – The secret ingredient in these burgers: coffee grounds, which chef-owner John David Leonetti says help impart flavor and keep the beef juicy. Served on a bed of fries, the $11.50 Bootlegger includes blue cheese, while the $14 Al Capone features fried egg and cheddar. Both come with candy-coated bacon on brioche buns. 1914 N. Monroe St. (509) 474-9040.
Wisconsinburger – There are too many burgers at this popular South Perry neighborhood site to recommend just one. But the Awe Geez burger ($11.50) features beer-battered cheese curds as well as sharp cheddar. Add bacon for $1.84, house-made bacon jam for $2.30 or an egg for $1.15. 916 S. Hatch St. (509) 241-3083.