History lover and food tourists alike come to Philadelphia, the home of the Philly cheesesteak, with high expectations. Luckily, when it comes to burgers the city's restaurant scene has been rising to meet these expectations. The burger joints in Philly are a mix of the quirky and the sophisticated, with trendy – and a little faddish – eateries found alongside upmarket celebrity-chef endorsed restaurants. A quality-driven culinary scene, however, means that both the odd and the upscale burger restaurants bring hungry Philly diners fresh, quality and often locally sourced seasonal ingredients for some of the best burgers in the United States. The following are five of the best burger restaurants in Philadelphia that'll give any curious foodie a comprehensive overview of the depth and breadth of the city's burger scene.
P.Y.T. in the Piazza has a cute, cartoonish menu which boasts the "craaaziest" burgers in America. There's a certain novelty to this burger restaurant that's proven popular with hip locals, but some cynics might view the menu as a little too out there. Luckily, we're here to reassure you that despite some of the more bizarre options – like the deep fried Pepperoni buns, or the "TV dinner" burger with deep-fried potato cakes for buns, filled with gravy and peas among other frills – P.Y.T. doesn't compromise on quality. These delicious burgers are certainly not for the calorie conscious though; the burgers here are an indulgent roller coaster of deep-fried oddities.
It's hard to miss the delightfully colorful exterior of Sketch Burger on Girard Avenue – which is a good thing, because hungry meat eaters really won't want to miss the burgers here. The formula at Sketch Burger is simple but inspired; choose your meat (anything from Kobe beef to pulled pork), choose your cheese and then choose your specialty sauce. The meat here is generous and tasty, but the sauces bring the burgers into the realm of the extraordinary and the addition of truffle butter is a stroke of understated genius. Sketch Burger's eccentric style and the vibrant sketches covering the walls make this a charming place for a burger and 'shake.
With franchises in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, Village Whiskey is increasing in popularity. The admirable whiskey menu draws people in, but the burgers keep them coming back. The gastro-pub style menu extends to the burgers, which are a far cry from the traditional American diner-style bun and beef patty. Huge sesame seed buns come bursting with an equally huge, juicy beef patty. The famed Whiskey King burger is an inspired combination of foie gras, blue cheese, maple bourbon glazed cipollini and bacon; the only downside is that this burger is so big it's impossible to eat with your hands. The duck fat fries are also a menu must-try.
Good Dog is a retro / hipster hybrid bar popular among a younger crowd. The grungy bar atmosphere belies a decent food menu that includes surprisingly gourmet takes on diner classics. Haute cuisine style mac and cheese, grilled octopus, and duck pot pie are just some of the quirky items featured on this pretty extensive menu. While the burger options are limited – there are usually about three staples – the 1/2 pound sirloin beef patties and brioche buns have secured Good Dog bar the reputation of serving up some of Philadelphia's best burgers.
A reputation for consistently high quality with fresh, thick beef patties and tasty Challah rolls make this gourmet burger restaurant a must-eat for burger fans in Philadelphia. Even the classic, plain beef patty cheeseburger is enough to convince foodies of the quality here, as the restaurant is dedicated to serving up quality, flavorsome meat. The 'fast food' style of 500 Degrees is juxtaposed with gourmet options like the restaurant's famous truffle fries or their organic Prime Burger. Happily, however, the prices are fast food-friendly, with a gourmet burger and specialty fries coming in under $20.