Some of the Best Burgers From Local Restaurants

Six categories, six marvelous and meaty sandwiches—here are some of our juicy favorites

Although there have been ground/minced beef dishes since at least the 12th century, it wasn’t until the 19th century that someone put raw meat to flame (and later, still, nestled it between two slices of bread) to create the predecessor of what we think of as today’s hamburger.

The exact origins are unknown, although it is agreed that the name comes from the German port of Hamburg, which was noted for raw beef dishes akin to today’s steak tartare, which came from the large Russian community living there. The Russians began favoring steak tartare when Genghis Khan’s grandson Kublai brought the Mongolian creation to Moscow in the 13th century.

Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Conn. was the first place to serve a burger in America in 1895, so says the Library of Congress, and the first bun was crafted in 1916. Then came a succession of sandwiches, with the Golden Age of the hamburger starting with the explosion of McDonald’s after the chain was purchased by Ray Kroc in 1955. Today the hamburger continues to evolve—fast foodstyle, gourmet-style, vegetarian, sliders—with a dizzying array of categories. And, across Hampton Roads, there is a burger for just about every palate. We picked some of our favorite styles and some of our favorite burgers that fit those styles based on lots of research—tasty, tasty research—and present our findings, with all the fixings, to you.

The Ultimate Hamburger
HRM Food Editor shows how to create a classic at home

It seems that just about everyone loves a hamburger, and we’ve got the ultimate recipe for folks to try at home. The classic becomes the ultimate burger with the use of fresh, local products; just about every component in the dish comes from a Virginia source. Because some ingredients are seasonal, and because some also take an extra step in purchasing, substitutions can be made with items you’d find at your local grocer. That said, try to source as many of the items locally as possible. You will not only tell a difference in the quality of the finished product, but you will be helping Virginia’s economy as well.

Our ground beef came from Gryffon’s Aerie near Charlottesville (, which sells its products in a number of markets and also by mail order. What makes the meat special from Gryffon’s Aerie is the use of heritage breeds raised humanely and on fresh pasture. If you use a substitute, look for similar qualities. The goat cheese used came from Caromont Farms, also near Charlottesville (, which uses the farmstead principals of cheesemaking from milk from their own animals.

Burger fixings came from one of our local farmers market, Old Beach Farmers Market in Virginia Beach (, in season; use a farm market near you or look for the freshest produce you can find at your supermarket.

The Ultimate Hamburger
2 ounces blue cheese • 4 ounces goat cheese
2 pounds ground beef • Fixings
Mustard-Wine Sauce (see note) • Buns

Combine blue cheese and goat cheese and divide into four equal parts. Roll in hand to form a ball and place in refrigerator at least 30 minutes to firm.

Divide ground beef into four equal parts. Roll in hand to form ball and make an indentation in the center of each ball. Stuff the blue/goat cheese ball into the ground beef indentation and seal closed. Gently press beef patty flat.

Heat a skillet or grill pan; if the meat is very lean, you may need to add a little oil to the pan. Cook two burgers at a time; place patties in the pan and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, then flip and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes.

Be careful to not press the patty or it will release natural juices. A one-inch thick hamburger takes about 3 minutes per side to reach rare; cook for about 4 minutes for medium burgers and about 5-1/2 minutes for a well-done burger.

Serve on artisan buns with lettuce, tomato, onion and our mustard-wine sauce. To make the mustard-wine sauce, add about one tablespoon of red wine to eight tablespoons of Dijon mustard and stir to incorporate.

Yields 4 burgers

Categories: Restaurants & Food