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Red Cow Burger 2.jpg
The Red Cow burger. (Image: Geoffrey Smith)

A look at the current Seattle burger landscape

In the Seattle-area, we're fortunate to have a satisfying burger around any corner. For many of us, we've been weaned on Dick's Drive-In and that's the archetype of what a burger means to us. But the burger goes through many styles; the quick and easy fast food style on a soft bun with special sauce and melty cheese to the fancy restaurant burger that dials up the ingredient refinement and sheer size. Luckily for Seattleites, burgers can be found all over the place that will satisfy your craving.

There are a number of great burger restaurants around the Seattle metro area. Seattle Refined previously wrote about a few of them. Most of our area neighborhoods will likely have at least one place to get a solid burger. But what of the places that put out a tasty burger that may go under the radar, be overlooked, or is still new and getting its burger cred out, what of them? Here are six places to visit for your burger fix, three for the more proletariat, three that are of the restaurant sitdown variety.

Great State Burger - We touched on the opening of Great State Burger at the Doppler building in Downtown, but since then, they've opened another in Laurelhurst with plans for more. The burgers at Great State are of the classic ideal you have in your mind; squishy bun, beef, right sized, and balanced in flavor. The Huxley Wallace team's take on fast food has had a good introduction to burger fans and eaters are looking forward to having a Great State in their neighborhood.

Loretta's Northwesterner - This South Park bar serves up a burger that eaters go across the city to indulge. Loretta's Tavern Burger has charbroiled beef with melted cheese, pickles, onions, and 'special sauce' between soft buns. I still think about this burger since the last time I had it. Loretta's is also the type of third place that you wish was around the corner from your house; warm, casual, friendly people and the ability to get a burger and beer for about ten bucks is not too shabby.

Zippy's - This is a burger stalwart from the outer fringes of Seattle (White Center and Georgetown). Zippy's has garnered plenty of fans for their burgers and retro kitsch of their restaurants. The beef is ground chuck and never frozen (key for a great burger), and the buns are a classic burger bun topped with a bit of cornmeal. The red onions add snap and bite and the whole thing is nicely weighted in flavor. Also nice, they feature vintage sodas in their cooler.

Bramling Cross and Red Cow - In the growing Ethan Stowell Restaurants empire, Stowell didn't feature a burger until he opened up his Red Cow in Madrona two years ago. And then there wasn't another until Ballard's Bramling Cross had a burger on its menu. And for eaters of Seattle, it was worth the wait. Both burgers are distinctly different from one another. I recently spoke with Branden Karow, Culinary Director for Ethan Stowell Restaurants about the burgers at Bramling Cross and Red Cow. Both utilize Double R Ranch beef for an eight ounce patty, potato buns (Bramling Cross uses Macrina, while Red Cow goes with Grand Central), and cooked over applewood to give it a distinct smoky flavor. But the little touches make them different. The Bramling Cross burger fits into Ethan's ideals for a classic burger with the fresh flavors of the shredded iceberg lettuce, raw onions, and American cheese. The Red Cow is more of a French brasserie burger with white cheddar, bacon, tomato, and caramelized sweet onions. What's great about both burgers is that they're available on their respective restaurants' happy hour menu.

Lark - John Sundstrom's Lark on Capitol Hill is in the conversation for Seattle's great restaurants for good reason; elegant dining room, considered food utilizing local ingredients, and the deft hand of Sundstrom and team in the kitchen. Their burger is also a hit. The set changes quarterly, but on a recent visit, it was a nod to the classic American burger; crunchy pickles, house made American cheese, and an eight ounce patty of Painted Hills beef on an oblong potato bun. Served up with fried sunchoke chips, it was a decidedly fancy burger, but one whose flavor I devoured.

Salt & Iron - On Main Street in downtown Edmonds lays Salt & Iron, a bustling restaurant for a laidback town. Salt & Iron's burger should definitely be on your radar. Eight ounces of Painted Hills ground chuck with an 80/20 lean/fat ratio; it's definitely juicy. The burger is comprised of frisee, caramelized onion aioli, bacon, white cheddar, and roasted peppers. A lot of flavors and textures to consider. And it's all served up with a side of fries. According to Alex Marek, Chef de Cuisine at Salt & Iron, they wanted to create an approachable burger with cohesive flavors that they'd enjoy eating. Mission accomplished.

There you have it, seven more restaurants to add to your burger-eating itinerary. Excuse me for a moment; I need to grab a burger. You should too.

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