Best Things: Burgers

Anyone who tells you that anything is the best is a fucking clown.  Taste is subjective and your experience can vary wildly based on genetics, environment – even noise level – so saying someone is wrong is impossible because they literally taste different things. I want you to keep that in mind while reading this because there’s a good chance your best is going to be different from my best – especially if you’re wrong.

Outside of more melted cheese, there is no greater human desire than to connect with other humans. To be understood and accepted drives us to do all kinds of stupid and beautiful things. Debating top 5 rappers, or who’s got the best burger showcases the best of our playful humanity because these low-lift debates connect our experiences through deeply engaging light-banter.  

It’s also nearly impossible to have tried all the burgers or pizza in a given area, so there’s typically room to learn a new spot or two. Unlike political beliefs, which you will likely fly into a cornfield before re-examining, the payoff of finding better versions of favorite foods is too valuable to have an overly rigid ideology.  Sure, there’s a chance that when I die a legion of deformed zygotes will drag me into the shallows of a fiery hell-pond for my pro-choice beliefs. I’ll drink my sunscreen and take that chance.  But if the Donald has the inside knowledge about a secret bodega burger on West Side then I will help him build the wall brick by fucking brick for the tip. 

Burgers and pizza are the go-to food to dick measure and it actually makes a lot of sense. They’re quintessential American foods that are highly accessible, so almost everyone has some frame of reference for them regardless of how long they’ve been in this country. Burgers are prevalent in our culture.

I’ll further illustrate the burger’s prevalence in our culture by sharing this personal tidbit: I’ve never had Shake Shack.  

I’ve said this to people.  The look I get back is one of disbelief and disgust, like I’ve revealed some necrotic wound under a fancy dress shirt.  They disagree with me, as if it was a debate, like it’s not possible for me to not have gone to Shake Shack. But, I haven’t.  Oops? Some of you are having this reaction right now, a feeling typically reserved for something remarkable. However this is evoked for simply not trying a chain of burgers.  Not burgers in general, but a regionally specific sub-genre of burgers. That’s how prevalent burgers are in our culture.

Even vegans want burgers and are aggressively optimizing their faux-burger game to get ’em.  Proto-veggie-burgers were essentially soylent brown – a medley of legumes and starches mixed with literal human shit.  Now they’ve got some lab grown beef substitute that actually bleeds, which is an odd feature to have when your whole philosophy is not to eat dead things.  Saying “I don’t want anything to die, I just really enjoy the taste of blood” makes you sound exponentially more psychotic than your average necrophile.  Instead of blood being the cost of eating a burger it’s now the reward for killing a beet.

What a time to be alive.

Hopefully this post will broaden your horizons to try new things or remind you of things you may have forgotten.  But, most importantly, none of this should cause me any further delay in my ordering my best burger of choice. Go feel your feelings at a more convenient time for me. Anyway, here’s how I’m going to judge this shit.

The Categories

We’re going to for a classic cheeseburger, no special additions or bullshit with two exceptions: customize any classic condiments to your liking, and weird shit gets a pass  if that’s part of classic order. For example, if their classic burger comes with spicy mayo and pickled onions – that’s fine. If I add lettuce – that’s fine. If I add a fried egg or bacon – this is verboten. But, if a burger doesn’t come with tomatoes, or doesn’t pre-determine any of those condiments, you can optimize at will, BUT, while at that point you could add mayo or onions, you CANNOT add spicy mayo or pickled onions.  Make sense? Doesn’t fucking matter because I’m basically explaining the rules to one person who is the only person playing that game – and that person also happens to be me. Fuck us.

Patty – Must be beef.  Lamb, veggie, and salmon are all delicious in their own way, and deserve careful consideration.  Unfortunately, this careful consideration is the same that went into reviewing my resume, and as a result, we’re moving in a different direction. Criteria: Is it cooked well?  Is it seasoned? Does the size or amount make sense?

Bun – It’s got to be a hamburger bun, not an English Muffin or a glazed donut filled with pop rocks (looking at you O’Leary’s).  Brioche, potato roll, kaiser. Round, soft, split in two. Criteria: Does the bun type work? Toasted or untoasted?  Is it dry?

Cheese – It has to have cheese.  Anyone who prefers their burger without cheese should be sent to the fucking salt mines. Who orders a hamburger? An agent provocateur from some rogue state trying to infiltrate our culture through subterfuge –  that’s who. Permission granted to shoot on site. All cheese is fine, but if there is deviation from American it better come strong. Criteria: Cheese type. Cheese amount.  Is the cheese melted?

Toppings – Superficially, this seems pretty simple.  There needs to be some variation of lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles.  We’re not doing bacon because that’s cheating. But for anyone who has ordered a burger and received a fucking salad on a bun instead, you know how important ratios are.  It’s also a good indicator of how much thought they are actually putting into this shit. Criteria: How much shit are they putting on it?  What type of shit are they putting on it? Does all this shit add to the burger?

Harmony – Like so many boy bands from the 90’s, terrible individual acts can come together to make something magical and subconsciously erotic. We need something to capture that chemistry. Criteria: How do all of these things above work together?

Overall – We will take the above and assign a score 1-5.  Decimals are in play. 

Here’s where I’m going in no particular order, and over an undetermined amount of time – classic Nice Things.  I’ve got a brand to maintain, so I need the flexibility to not do shit for 3 months and play Xbox or gamble away my retirement.  I will occasionally bring some people with me to eat these burgers and we will form a consensus to rate.  You will know when this is happening.

New Park Tavern
White Mana
Diesel & Dukes
Left Bank
White Star

McGinely Square Pub


Latham House

Dark Side of the Moo (The terrible-ness of this name almost excluded it’s submission, but it was recommended)
South House
Piggy Back
Skinner’s Loft
Oak on Pine (who apparently has a different name now?)
Fox and Crow
Light Horse Tavern

Ed & Mary’s


My first one of these judgments will be Piggyback Bar.  You can got to that post by clicking here. If you have any additions let me know.  If there’s a good burger out there we need to share with others you greedy fuck.

Last note.  I’m going to post this on my blog before I post it on IG.  If you’re interested in not relying on IG to tell you when I’m posting, sign up for the mailing list.  I haven’t used the list yet, but I might use it over the spring and summer for very douche-clusive events or opportunities.  Or I might not.  This isn’t my job.

I created Nice Things because I want us to have nice things. So if you enjoyed what you read, share it with your friends.  You can follow me on Instagram @NiceThingsJC

If you’re interested in writing and have something to say, I want to let you use this platform. Send a partially cogent email to with what you want to rant about.

11 thoughts on “Best Things: Burgers

  1. man I really hoping to see Uncle Momo’s on this list (but obviously not surprised it isn’t). They have a kick-ass no-frills cheese burger.


  2. Based on your rubric and rules I bet you will like Skinner’s Loft.
    Other places have better whacky toppings and sauces, but Skinner’s has a satisfyingly large no-frills burger.


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