One of the first, if not arguably the best, foods to come out of the beautiful USA is the hamburger. The classic burger is a staple of the American diet, and has since become a world phenomenon. It's become an icon of backyard cookouts, as well as fast food and traditional restaurants alike. Of course, we Southerners love a good, hearty meat we can grill up and reinvent. That is why Atlanta is packed full of incredible and innovative burger spots throughout town, places that are even known on a national and world basis.
The burger to try at General Muir is called “The Burger” and comes with gruyere, caramelized onions, crispy pastrami, russian and pickles. This burger combines the smokey flavor of the pastrami with sweet accents to introduce a mouth-watering combination of flavors you don't often find around the South. This modern restaurant and deli is inspired by the classic New York Jewish deli and also serves traditional North Eastern favorites like pastrami, which is cured and smoked in house. TheGeneralMuir.com
Thumbs Up Diner
Their burger and sandwich options, another aspect of the classic diner of years-gone-by, come in a variety of old fashioned melt styles. One such sandwich is The Burger Melt, made with Swiss cheese and sautéed onions and mushrooms, all served on grilled marble rye bread. The key word here is “melt”. With gooey melted cheese and toasted bread for a bun, this burger hits the spot in an old school, soul-satisfying kind of way. Thumbs Up Diner has the atmosphere of a classic, comfortable diner from the 50s. It is also well-known for its all-day breakfast menu and lunch creations, such as chicken and waffles and specialty omelets. ThumbsUpDiner.com
Grind house Killer Burgers
Sweet Auburn Curb Market
As the name suggests, the menu at Grind House Killer Burgers is crafted around specialty burgers. In its first year of business, Grindhouse was voted Best Veggie Burger in Atlanta by Creative Loafing. The reason they won? This place builds all of their burgers from the ground up, starting with the burger itself, which is called choosing your “grind”. The veggie burger's grind is made from a top-notch combination of two beans and quinoa, making it delicious and completely vegan friendly. This means any of their burger styles, such as the Hillbilly Style with pimento cheese, brisket chilli, jalapenos and red onion, could be made as a veggie burger. Decorated in edgy, modern art, it is a hip, innovative restaurant nestled inside the Sweet Auburn Curb Market that includes vintage B-movies and Kung Fu flicks as decor reminiscent of a Tarantino aesthetic. GrindHouseKillerBurgers.com
Little's Food Store
One of the most interesting menu items at Little's Food Store is the Little Burgers. Such burgers are built small for a reason, as they create the perfect blend of meat and flavorful ingredients. These small burgers, a throwback style of burger building, are made from store-ground Angus or grass-fed beef and come in single or double patties. Try the Double Chilli and Cheese for a classic style burger with an extra kick. Little's is a grocery and grill that has been around since 1929 and still carries that familiar, neighborhood feeling of yesteryear. LittlesFoodStore.com
Holeman & Finch
With a casual menu that is executed with an edge of sophistication, Chef Linton Hopkins drives Holeman & Finch with a signature, made-from-scratch approach to the dishes being prepared. One such dish of epic proportions is known as the 10 o'clock Burger, which used to only be served after 10:00 p.m on certain nights of the week. This legendary cheeseburger is made with two solid hunks of ground beef and cooked like they came from a backyard barbecue. The cheese is layered throughout, as are pickles and onions. Maybe this tactic of withholding such a delicious burger for special occasions and certain nights gave it this legendary status, but there's no denying it's a fantastic cheeseburger. Because of popular demand, Holman and Finch could no longer deny their burger to the public and began serving it nightly. Holeman-Finch.com
Illegal Food is a bar and grill that specializes in creative burgers and barbecue served with over-the-top Southern sides. One of these creative burgers is called The Hank, a house-ground, dry aged, Brasstown beef burger with American cheese, iceberg lettuce, sweet vadalia onions, pickles and H&F Pain de Mie. The inspiration for this burger came from In-and-Out burgers and McDonalds' BigMac, but is cooked with premium beef and topped with their own special sauce made in house for optimum quality and freshness. If that isn't a John Wayne burger, then there is no such thing as a John Wayne burger. With an impressive variety of craft beer and cocktails, this restaurant has a speak-easy vibe that gives it an extra edge of fun-- the slogan is Yeah, It's That Good. IllegalFoodAtlanta.com
Writer Bio: Jared Rigsby is a writer and graphic designer with a BA in Writing/Literature from Middle Tennessee State University. A longtime freelancer, he is published monthly through Dish Magazine (dishmag.com) and develops logos and websites through Neochromatic.com.