It’s National Burger Day today (if lost socks and lima beans can have one, there’s no good reason why the humble patty shouldn’t get a special day of recognition).
And in the spirit of not letting a good marketing opportunity slip by, Aussie healthy burger brand Grill’d has announced it is giving away 7,000 free burgers to customers across the country in “random acts of kindness” today (28 May).
Customers deemed worthy will be offered free burger gift vouchers and ‘love notes’ by staff to “show their appreciation for local communities”, according to the brand’s media release.
While the idea of being slipped a love note by the spotty youth tasked with serving up my Wagyu Wunder Burger is a little alarming, I do love a good burger promo. In my view, though, none can better the 1974 McDonald’s competition in which you could win a free cup of Coke if you could recite all the ingredients of a Big Mac in four seconds or less*.
In the interests of spreading the burger love even further on this auspicious occasion, we’ve done a whip around of the RiotACT office to produce the official unofficial guide to the best burgers in Canberra (and surrounds). We take no responsibility for the more ridiculous views.
Fricken Fried Chicken came to Braddon last year as an act of providence for Canberra’s cabal of hungover and dusty partygoers, and I, for one, welcomed my new crispy overlord with open arms. There’s just something about fried chicken that makes your head throb a little less, and this burger comes with some pretty crackin’ chippies as well.
While Canberra has a fair few good burger joints, I have to give Fricken a special place at the top simply due to the juiciness of the fillet (connoisseurs know that perfecting fried chicken is a rare art).
It’s also the closest chicken burger I’ve found to those from Sydney mecca, Chicken and Sons, since moving to Canberra in late 2019. Put chips in the burger for an express train to flavourtown. Dominic Giannini, journalist
Mr Papa’s big daddy
When I think of fabulous burgers, the first thing that comes to mind is my introduction to Mr Papa in 2015, seated outside the Peruvian food van at the Hamlet in Braddon, breathing in the harmonious melody of flavours that is their chanchito burger. The burger’s tangy salsa Criolla cut through its luscious pork belly and mellow sweet potato filling, while the green sauce on the side played Pied Piper to my transfixed tastebuds. The flavours were so memorable, so delicious, that at least once every year since, I have attempted to recreate the magic of this green sauce. Unsuccessfully. This, many years later, is still my favourite burger. Michelle Taylor, food writer
Who dairies wins
The Cheeze-Gazsm Freak Burger from BurgerHero in Braddon is the stuff dreams are made of. The name gives you everything you need to know – a deep-fried cheese patty, American cheese and mac’n’cheese accompany two smashed beef patties, with toppings including pickles, onions and chipotle sauce. Check out their Instagram page and you’ll understand … Adam Gill, marketing and client manager
KC’s Takeaway in Queanbeyan definitely leads the way for simple yet totally satisfying burgers that leave you with no reason to go for the mass-produced versions at certain fast-food chains in town. Their hamburger with the lot, with a choice of sauces (the hot chilli is a personal favourite) has come to the rescue a number of times. With beef mince patty, bacon, egg, cheese and pineapple, it’s filling without being over the top. If you want to go next level, their house burger is double everything (if you’re game). Michael Weaver, journalist
The Burgmuda Triangle
In the heart of the Parliamentary Triangle, at the bottom of an office block neighbouring the headquarters of the Australian Federal Police and the Attorney-General’s Department, is homegrown Canberra creation Burger Craft. The casual and airy space has long tables inside and out, and the burger menu is compact – two beef options, two chicken choices, a fish burger, and a vegan version. My pick is the Craft Catch, with house-crumbed, sustainably caught Blue Grenadier fish fillet, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and tartare sauce. For when you can’t decide if you’re in the mood for fish and chips or a burger, it offers the best of both worlds. Pair it with the sublime crunchy salty house fries. Sophia Brady, food writer
Boy meets grill
Paul’s Cafe in Crookwell is not much to look at but its burgers mean business. Heralded as the “best burgers ever” on Tripadvisor, it’s Paul’s fuss-free but ‘load-‘em-up’ approach that wins hungover and hungry punters every weekend. You must try the Hamburger Lot, stacked with bacon, cheese, onions, barbecue sauce, lettuce and tomato. Hannah Sparks, journalist
No salad? Lettuce rejoice
There’s no room on my burger for bacon. Or egg for that matter. As for your wilted lettuce and anaemic tomatoes, you can hold those too, along with any slices of beetroot you might be trying to slip in there surreptitiously. Cheese, on the other hand, is essential. And tomato sauce and mustard. And well-made pickle (not of the jammy type, you understand, but nice, crisp, vinegary slices of REAL pickled cucumber).
Brodburger’s Single Cheese Burger is exactly that. A 200 g flame-grilled beef patty (juicy and flavoursome) comes with little more than satisfyingly melted cheddar, a bit of onion, pickles (yep, proper ones), mustard and tomato sauce – all nicely lined up in a good bun with admirable structural integrity. Simple, delicious and I’m not wearing half of it down my shirt by the time I’ve finished.
The only thing that could improve things? A side of the Canberra burger institution’s thoroughly excellent onion rings. Michelle Rowe, food and wine editor
I’m a burger aficionado. I love to eat them, I love to cook them, I love to talk about them and I love to take photos of them. So, I have quite a few favourite Canberra burgers, but I’m going to go with the Mookie Sakura Burger for something different.
A juicy Australian wagyu patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, American cheese, Portuguese jam and secret Sakura sauce are stacked on a crispy nori rice bun.
Mookie is the only place I know of in Canberra that serves a burger on a rice bun, so it’s a good option if you want to swap your bread carbs for rice carbs. Mookie has a location in the city and another in Tuggeranong. Amelia Bidgood, food writer
Whopping good value
The Hungry Jack’s Whopper is the best burger in Australia. End. Of. Story.
Why? Because it’s simple.
Meat from the grill (probably – where else could the lines come from?) Crisp lettuce (if the bag was opened recently). Ripe tomatoes (every third burger). Onions (undercooked for heartburn). Pickles (pickles are awesome). Mayo and tomato sauce (don’t wear a white shirt). Sesame seed bun (toasted, so you can’t tell how long the bread was left out).
Are there ‘better’ burgers? Maybe there are if you wanna get fancy. You could add a dash of truffle oil. Cheese that looks suspiciously Swiss. Swap the whitest, fluffiest, most refined-flour bun for sourdough (or rice … really?) Maybe even have green lettuce. But as you la-de-da your burger and the extras keep piling up – Halloumi? For realsies? – here’s a guarantee: you won’t get two of them for $9.45 with a voucher from a drive-thru that’s open 24/7. Game over. David Murtagh, sub-editor