Americans are the world's burger experts. If you doubt this for one minute, consider the way they do things at Burger King Japan.
Novelty burger options include a pizza-sized burger that's almost nine inches and costs $33.
In April, BK Japan offered a deal, where, for $1.37, you could add 15 strips of bacon to your burger, at which point your burger disappears. One customer took things way too far and added 1,050 bacon slices to his Whopper (spoiler alert: He didn't finish it).
The newest BK Japan special is a five-patty Whopper. You can't help but wonder if that same guy will try to order a 1,050-patty burger.
As I was saying. Americans are the burger experts, and our top ones are the best of the best. Here are some of the country's (and therefore the world's) most outstanding burgers.
Holeman & Finch Public House - Atlanta, Georgia
This gastropub has one of the country's best bars; it's also one of the country's great late night burger spots. At 10 p.m. every evening, the bullhorn blast signals the start of burger time (generally, people start arriving at 9 p.m.; by 9:50, the place is full). H&F sells only 24 burgers nightly; some nights they sell out by 10.01.
To make their double patty cheeseburgers, chef Linton Hopkins uses freshly ground grass-fed chuck and brisket, topped with melty American cheese served on house-baked buns; condiments include house-made ketchup, mustard and pickles. The accompanying fries are destination-worthy as well.
Get the recipe for Holeman & Finch's famous cheeseburger
B Spot Burgers -- Cleveland area
Michael Symon isn't just the winner of Iron Chef America. He's also won the Best Burgers in America title from the South Beach Wine & Food Festival an astonishing three years running. To check out why he's king, go to B Spot Burgers, which has five locations in the Cleveland area, including the Horseshoe Casino. If you're winning, you probably want an awesome burger. And if you're losing, you probably want an awesome burger.
Symon is expert at meat-on-meat burgers: the Yo! (topped with fried salami, coppa, hot peppers and provolone); Symon Says (topped with bologna, coleslaw, whip sauce and American cheese); and Symon's personal favorite, the Fat Doug (topped with pastrami, Swiss and coleslaw). Football fans can rejoice that Symon is opening up a B Spot in Browns stadium later this summer.
The Spotted Pig - New York City
April Bloomfield's burger is outstanding in its simplicity. Here's how the description reads on the menu at the Pig: "Char-grilled burger with Roquefort & shoestrings." The divinely juicy, two-handed burger on a baked-in-house bun is a secret blend created for Bloomfield by celebrity butcher Pat LaFrieda. LaFrieda told New York Magazine, "We must've come up with 25 different blends before she chose one. Twenty-five! First she wants more short rib, then less, then more." (I believe the mix is brisket, rump and chuck.)
There used to be a firm no substitutions rule in place; now you can order the burger without the layer of blue cheese topping. But don't try to sub in another cheese - that's strictly prohibited.
Father's Office - Los Angeles, California
There are two places to get chef Sang Yoon's outstanding burger: Santa Monica and Culver City, in Los Angeles. The Office Burger is topped with applewood bacon compote, caramelized onions, both Gruyère and Maytag blue cheese (why aren't more places brilliantly combining two kinds of cheese on a burger?), and, because this is California, arugula. Yoon uses a blend of dry aged beef for his burgers, which ups the meatiness quotient; that bacon compote helps too. Yoon is another chef who doesn't believe in burger substitutions: There's a no-ketchup policy in place.
If you visit their website and click on the Office Supplies tab, you can find F.O. skateboards for sale as well as F.O. Periodic Table Beer T-shirts. "We feel that great beer is an essential element of life," they explain.
Shake Shack - New York City; Miami; Washington, DC; Westport, Connecticut; Philadelphia; and other locations
It's kind of hard to believe that lines have been forming at the original Madison Square Park kiosk since 2004, or before that if you count the time before the "shack," when it was just a cart. Now you can use the website's real-time Shack Cam to see just how long that line is.
Depending on the location and the cooker, some burgers will be better seared than others, but at their best, a single patty Shack Burger - made with hormone-free beef with melted American cheese spilling over the top of it, plus crisp lettuce, tomato and the all-important Shack Sauce - is a great thing. The newest location in Philadelphia is the only one to feature the new SmokeShack: a cheeseburger topped with Niman Ranch applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers and, of course, that Shack Sauce.