The majestic cheeseburger. I love you. I hate you. I wish there weren’t so many of them running around Palermo Soho. But I can’t deny that once a month my wife and I do burger runs — we wear elastic banded pants, choose three spots and order one at each. Call us sommeliers. I may have also left a going away party early on Saturday because I was tired but really the kitchen at Dogg was about to close. Sorry, Jack, have fun in London!
Here are three spots that do the trend justice:
The Closest Damn Thing to an In-N-Out Double Double at Voraz
When I took my first bite out of the Classic at Voraz, an anonymous looking new burger spot in Belgrano, I dropped down a space portal lodged in the back of my brain. I was taken back to a ritual that began early in my childhood, that intensified on lazy college afternoons, and is my first indulgence as soon as I step out of the airport on yearly trips back to California. Before we even make it home, we stop at the first exit with an In-N-Out, the canon of fresh California-style cheeseburgers.
The pleasure of a simple double-double is always present in the periphery of my mind. The slightly salty smashed burger, gooey yellow cheese that rests at the crossroads of a dignified cheddar and the spreadable Lunchable variety that can only be enjoyed in the chaos of an elementary school cafeteria.
The rest is an orchestra, every player, although minor as a singular entity, sings when paired correctly: the squirt of juice that escapes from a firm tomato, the jump of acidity from slightly grilled onions and, although often overlooked, the rapture of the exaggeratedly crisp sound of fresh iceberg lettuce gnawing under each chew. Here, a combination of different mayonnaises replace the sauce; the result is a salty buttery mess in lieu of the briney orange tinged animal sauce. Recognize that particular tint of cheddar, that creamy slightly sour golden mess that sticks to the teeth, it’s because here they use a mild Milkaut over the preferred Dambo.
Aguilar 2391, Belgrano
Burgers with a Side of Rib-Eye at Menenga
Chef Nico Gonzalez recommends the Doble Bacon. It immediately transported me to the diners and roadside restaurants I grew up on.
Patties are a simple mix of roast beef and fat that are smashed thin and served in twos. A dense marbled fat is that first burst that hits. Buttery cheddar cheese oozes over with a satisfying lacto-fat flavor. It hangs on tight to the tongue as bursts of savory-sweet pickles and a generous stack of salty bacon flutter in and out. French fries are cut thin and fried to a lovely airy crisp. Fluffy tangerine orange buns made of cabocha squash add an unexpected honey note. It is the kind of simple but second-natured execution that often only comes from a fry cook that’s been manning the plancha for decades.
Espinosa 480, Caballito
Diner-Style Burgers at Dogg
I sat down with Maxi Togni back in 2016 as he was just beginning to expand Dogg from a miniscule hot dog shop in Microcentro to a pancho and burger dynasty. His dream was to create the city’s best burger and then move on to open an American style diner; a space he longed to recreate after living in suburban Staten Island. The latter has yet to materialize but his burger competes with the best of them.
There are thirteen different burgers to choose from. Burgers come double and are made with pasture-fed Angus beef. My favorite is the cebolla colorada, which comes stacked with applewood bacon, crunchy bread and butter pickles, lettuce, tomato and a smattering of in-house mayonnaise. The secret is in the grill. Rather than a flat grill each restaurant char-grills their patties to add an extra layer of smoke flavor. Potato buns, made fresh daily in each restaurant, has a slightly elastic texture that holds up until the very end.
Pro-tip: the burgers at both the Belgrano and Palermo Hollywood locations are excellent. The Tribunales shop is not on parr, stick to their dogs.
Blanco Encalada 1665, Barrio Chino
Gorriti 5751, Palermo Hollywood