Top 5 Burgers in Burlington

Burlington carnivores, tell me what’s good — if one feeds on flesh, the most satiating type comes from beef (fresh, not frozen), right? The satisfaction of biting into a handmade juicy burger is only epitomized when accompanied by a side of fries … although when you’re critiquing burgers for days on end (tough gig, eh?), a salad is very necessary at some point. Sometimes you need a burger topped with bacon and/or an array of BBQ sauces. Then there are days where you just want to taste the flavour from the meat and see what the chef knows about seasoning and if he or she grills better than your favourite uncle in Michigan. Regardless of the side, Burlington has an amazing selection of burgers. Here are our top five picks.


5. Black Swan Pub & Grill

Fresh beef and veggie patties are made in-house at this north end pub, served with standard fresh cut fries, house salad or soup. The patty in this hamburger is thick and yummy, so I don’t add anything to it because the burger tastes real and the bun has grill marks on both sides, plus butter. Black Swan is popular among locals and retirees, it seems. The burger takes awhile but it’s worth the wait and serves as a reminder that real food actually needs time to cook.

Grill or griddle?: Grill

Price: $9.49


4. Emma’s Back Porch & The Water St. Cooker

The Classic Back Porch Burger is so good I nearly weep while chowing down. Featuring fresh AAA ground chuck that’s hand-pattied, it’s slathered in cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce, and an Ace Bakery kaiser. Emma’s burger nearly has me licking my fingers in public. But then I remember I’m at this cottage in south Burlington where Emma’s - formally known as the Estaminet Standard Hotel - opened in 1919 and famous people such as legendary musician Louis Armstrong and former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (aka Dief the Chief) dined here, so I should exercise restraint.

Grill or griddle?: Grill

Price: $13.75


3. Boon Burger Cafe

The good folks at Boon Burger prove you don’t necessarily need meat to create a phenomenally satisfying meal. Their Cowboy burger is the topseller in Burlington and boy, it’s massive. Made from scratch, burgers are handmade, grilled, baked, and served on a whole wheat bun. The black bean patty comes with BBQ sauce, “bacun,” lettuce, tomato, and it’s slathered in Bermuda sauce (which really should be called Vegan Big Mac sauce because it tastes gluttonous and McDonald’s has officially been replaced for all cheat meals going forward). This Canadian chain, or “world’s first vegan burger cafe,” has mastered selling plant-based junk food for the masses. Hot sauce and other (less important) condiments are already on the table, surrounded by a massive roll of brown paper towels. Full of farm animals, the environment is quirky. Very friendly staff wear black T-shirts reading ‘boonivore’ on the back. After one bite of the Cowboy, I want one, along with everything on their menu.

Grill or griddle?: Grill

Price: $11


2. Zesty Pita & Burgers

Oh, Zesty. First they won me over with their shawarma and now their Classic Burger … It’s the next best thing from homemade. Zesty’s burger is fresh, it’s halal, and it’s cheap. Made from scratch, with or without cheddar cheese, it’s overflowing with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, ketchup, mustard, and mayo. The sesame seed bun is squishy and tastes just right.. Simplicity has never been so delicious. This is ‘fast-food’ at its best. Zesty has two locations in Burlington and you can ask for shawarma toppings on your burger, but in that case, why wouldn’t you just order shawarma? Zesty’s owners hail from Morocco, which is now on my bucket list.

Grill or griddle?: Grill

Price: $5.99


1. Culaccino Bar & Kitchen

This hip Italian bar-slash-gastropub is one of the newest along Brant St., taking over the former Eatalia spot. I found this place while strolling downtown … the stunning aesthetic caught my eye so I went in to find out more, quickly realizing it’s Burlington’s best-kept burger secret. Just order The Burger and wait for it to arrive. Take in the glorious horseshoe-shaped bar and industrial light fixtures and wooden chairs with colourful legs. Try not to drool over the food or decor. Decked out between a bun with black-and-white sesame seeds you’ll find a thick grilled patty made in-house, like everything on the curated menu. It’s wrapped in prosciutto and drowned in melted Gorgonzola and served with frites and house-made ketchup, which tastes so healthy it feels as if I’m eating clean for just a split second. A few bites in, I had to put The Burger down and just nod at it to convey appreciation and respect. The friendly owner, Jerod, and staff work hard to provide a stellar experience. Oh, and by the way, they’ve got craft beer on beer on beer on beer! Dozens … close to 100 varieties. Culaccino opened around summer 2016 and weekends are fully booked. Check out this stunning restaurant and experience the best burger in Burlington!

Grill or griddle?: Grill

Price: $18


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