The 4 Types of Burger Joints
Meat on a bun. What could be simpler? The humble hamburger has been one of America’s dietary staples for well over a century. It has survived through low-fat and low-carb crazes. Here in Texas there are plenty of places to choose from. But despite all the variety, you can categorize burger joints into four major types.
This one is the most obvious: McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are everywhere in this country. Regionally, you might also find Whataburger, Sonic, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Checker’s, Rally’s or a myriad of other chains. These kinds of burgers are so ubiquitous that they’re not even much of a treat. They’re just something to eat when you’re “on the go”.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
Before there were fast food restaurants, there were diners, cafeterias and lunch counters. These are the kinds of places that invented the American hamburger. These are the greasy spoon kind of places where you can get a good patty melt. Diners tend to be locally owned, though there are several diner-style chains, like Steak ‘n Shake and Johnny Rocket’s.
Fast Casual Restaurants
This is the fastest growing category of restaurants. Fast casual burger joints combine aspects of both fast food restaurants and diners, with a more polished corporate feel. Fast casual restaurants may cost a few bucks more than traditional fast food joints, though they pride themselves on better food and better service. Some of the most prominent fast casual places include Shake Shack, Five Guys, Fatburger and Smashburger.
Upscale Burger Joints
A step up from fast casual places you’ll find more upscale burger bars. These places often have locally-sourced ingredients and more exotic types of meats like Wagyu beef, Bison or even kangaroo. You can also get a variety of toppings, like avocado, chorizo, or my favorite, chili and Fritos. I don’t know of any national chains in this category, but we’ve got some good ones here in Dallas. My local favorites are Hopdoddy, Rodeo Goat and Twisted Root, though there are many others that I still haven’t tried.
There are plenty of other places you can get a burger: pubs, steakhouses, BBQ joints and casual dining chains like Chili’s, Applebee’s and TGI Friday’s. You can get a good burger at a lot of places, or at least a mediocre one. But the best burgers come from burger joints that specialize in this All-American meal. Hamburgers are one of my favorite foods, and it’s nice to have so many options.
What are some of your favorite burger joints? Let me know in the comment section.