You can't talk about Durham, NC without mentioning their amazing burger scene. Whether you're a local or a visitor, it's easy to get lost in the wide array of burger options available. To make it easier for you, we've rounded up the top 10 burger joints in Durham that will satisfy any craving you may have.
Top 10 burger joints in Durham, NC
Starting off with our number 1 pick, we have Bull City Burger and Brewery. This spot is known for using locally sourced ingredients to make their burgers. They have a range of options available, including vegetarian and vegan options, but their classic Bull Burger with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, and special sauce is a must-try.
Next up, we have OnlyBurger. This family-run business started in a food truck and has now expanded to four locations in Durham. Their burgers are made with 100% all-natural beef and their toppings are always fresh. Try their Bahn Mi Burger with pickled vegetables and sriracha mayo for a unique flavor experience.
Another great spot is The Federal. This restaurant is known for its gourmet burgers made with grass-fed beef and locally sourced ingredients. Their Spicy Pork Belly Burger with kimchi, fried egg, and sriracha mayo is a flavor explosion.
If you're looking for a laid-back spot with an extensive beer list, check out Geer Street Garden. Their burgers are made with a blend of chuck and brisket and are served on brioche buns. Try their Geer Street Burger with pimento cheese and bacon jam, it's a crowd-pleaser.
Other notable mentions include Dain's Place, which has been a Durham favorite for over a decade. Their burgers are made with fresh beef and come with a side of their famous tater tots. Burger Bach is another spot to try, with their New Zealand grass-fed beef burgers and unique dipping sauces.
If you're in the mood for a sweet and savory combination, check out Juju. Their Korean BBQ Burger with kimchi and maple bacon will satisfy any cravings you may have.
For a cozy neighborhood spot, try Hutchins Garage. Their burgers are made with Angus beef and come with a side of their famous pimento cheese hushpuppies. If you're looking for a veggie option, try their Veggie Burger with black bean and chipotle aioli.
For a funky atmosphere and delicious burgers, check out The Cookery. Their burgers are a bit smaller, but made with high-quality beef and served on potato rolls. Try their Hot Mess Burger with sweet potato tots and bacon aioli for a fun twist.
Last but not least, we have Town Hall Burger and Beer. This spot offers a range of burgers, from classic to unique, and always uses fresh ingredients. Try their Pimento Cheeseburger with their house-made pimento cheese for a southern twist.
If you're looking for a burger joint with a unique twist, check out Bulldega Urban Market. This spot offers a variety of burgers, including a lamb burger with tzatziki sauce and a veggie burger with avocado and sprouts. They also have a rotating selection of craft beers to pair with your meal.
For a burger joint with a focus on sustainability, try BurgerFi. Their burgers are made with grass-fed beef and their packaging is eco-friendly. Try their CEO Burger with double wagyu and brisket blend, homemade candied bacon-tomato jam, truffle aioli, and aged Swiss cheese.
Juicy burger patties that will make your mouth water
When it comes to a great burger, the patty is the star of the show. The best burgers are made with high-quality meat, and cooked to perfection.
Bull City Burger and Brewery, for example, uses a blend of chuck, brisket, and steak trim to craft their patties. They also cook their burgers over an open flame, which adds a smoky flavor to the meat.
At OnlyBurger, their patties are made with 100% all-natural, locally sourced beef. They also grind their meat fresh daily, which ensures the burgers are always juicy and flavorful.
Many restaurants in Durham also offer unique patty options. The Cookery, for example, offers a lamb burger, which is seasoned with cumin, coriander, and mint. The Federal offers a bison burger option, which is leaner but still flavorful.
If you're looking for a vegetarian or vegan option, Durham has plenty of options for you too. BurgerFi offers a Beyond Burger patty, which is made entirely from plant-based ingredients but still has the taste and texture of a traditional beef patty. The Refectory Cafe also offers a black bean burger, which is packed with protein and flavor.
A guide to the best burger toppings in Durham, NC
A great burger isn't just about the patty, but also the toppings. Durham offers a range of creative and delicious toppings that make their burgers stand out.
Burger Bach offers unique dipping sauces that pair perfectly with their burgers. Try their Smokey BBQ or Wasabi Mayo for a fun flavor experience.
At Geer Street Garden, you can order your burger with a variety of toppings, including pimento cheese, bacon jam, or avocado. They also offer a range of dipping sauces, including truffle mayo and jalapeno ranch.
For a funky twist on classic toppings, try The Cookery's Hot Mess Burger with roasted jalapenos and bacon aioli. At The Federal, their Spicy Pork Belly Burger comes with kimchi and sriracha mayo for a delicious Korean twist.
If you're looking for a vegetarian option, try Bull City Burger and Brewery's Veggie Burger. It's made with a house-made black bean patty and topped with avocado, sprouts, and chipotle mayo.
For a unique and indulgent topping, head to Only Burger and try their Peanut Butter Burger. It's a classic burger topped with creamy peanut butter, bacon, and pickles for a sweet and savory combination.
The history of the burger in Durham and where to find the best classic burgers
The history of the burger in Durham can be traced back to the 1920s when fast-food chains like White Castle and Krystal started popping up around the country. However, Durham's love for a classic burger has grown beyond just fast food.
Dain's Place has been a Durham institution since 1999 and has gained a reputation for serving up classic, no-frills burgers. Their burgers are made with fresh beef and come with traditional toppings like lettuce, tomato, and onion.
Another great spot for classic burgers is Town Hall Burger and Beer. Their burgers are made with fresh beef and come with toppings like cheddar cheese, lettuce, and pickles. They also offer a range of classic milkshakes that pair perfectly with their burgers.
For those looking for a unique twist on the classic burger, Bull City Burger and Brewery is a must-visit. They offer a variety of burgers made with locally sourced beef and unique toppings like fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese. They also have a rotating selection of craft beers to pair with your burger.
If you're in the mood for a burger with a view, head to The Patio at Saint James Seafood. Their burger is made with grass-fed beef and comes with toppings like bacon jam and smoked cheddar. Enjoy your burger on their outdoor patio overlooking the Durham skyline.
Vegetarian and vegan-friendly burgers in Durham, NC - where to find them
For those who are vegetarian or vegan, Durham has plenty of options available. Burger Bach offers a vegetable burger made with quinoa, black beans, and roasted vegetables. At OnlyBurger, you can substitute the beef patty for a black bean patty. They also offer a Vegan Burger with vegan cheese and special sauce.
Beyond that, The Cookery and The Federal also offer vegetarian and vegan-friendly burger options. The Cookery offers a Veggie Burger made with black beans and chipotle aioli. The Federal offers a Mushroom and Swiss Burger made with a portobello mushroom patty.
If you're looking for a more upscale dining experience, Bull City Burger and Brewery offers a vegetarian burger made with a house-made black bean patty, topped with avocado, salsa, and chipotle mayo. They also have a vegan burger option that features a Beyond Meat patty, vegan cheese, and vegan mayo.
For those who prefer a fast-food option, Burger King and McDonald's both offer vegetarian and vegan burgers. Burger King's Impossible Whopper features a plant-based patty, while McDonald's offers a McVegan burger in select locations.
Durham's hidden gem burger spots that you need to try
While Durham has plenty of popular burger spots, there are also hidden gems that are worth checking out.
One such spot is Hutchins Garage. It's tucked away in a corner of Durham but offers delicious burgers made with Angus beef. They also have a cozy atmosphere and delicious pimento cheese hushpuppies.
Another less-known spot is LouElla's Southern Kitchen. They offer a range of southern-inspired dishes, including an amazing burger made with a combination of beef and sausage. It also comes topped with pimento cheese and pickled onions for a unique flavor experience.
How to customize your burger order for the ultimate dining experience
When it comes to ordering a burger, customization is key. Durham's best burger spots offer a range of toppings and sauces, but it's up to you to create the perfect combination.
Try swapping out traditional toppings for something unique, like kimchi or avocado. Or, add a dipping sauce to your burger for an extra burst of flavor.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, many restaurants offer customizations that aren't listed on the menu. For example, Bull City Burger and Brewery offers a fried egg as a burger topping, but it's not listed on their menu.
Local beer and burger pairings in Durham, NC
Durham is also known for its craft beer scene, and what pairs better with a burger than a cold beer?
Bull City Burger and Brewery has an extensive beer list that pairs perfectly with their burgers. Try their Lick Skillet IPA with their classic Bull Burger. Or, go for a more unique option like their House Sour with their Korean BBQ Burger.
At The Federal, they have an excellent beer selection that complements their gourmet burgers. Try their Iron Triangle Belgian Tripel with their Spicy Pork Belly Burger for a unique flavor experience.
The most Instagram-worthy burgers in Durham, NC
For those who love to capture their dining experiences on Instagram, Durham has plenty of options.
Town Hall Burger and Beer offers a range of burgers that are both delicious and photogenic. Try their Pimento Cheeseburger with their house-made pimento cheese for a colorful photo opportunity.
Juju also offers a Korean BBQ Burger that not only tastes amazing but looks just as good. The maple bacon and kimchi topping add a pop of color to the dish.
For a truly unique burger experience, visit OnlyBurger and try their Bahn Mi Burger. The pickled vegetables and sriracha mayo make it a visually appealing dish.
What makes a great burger? A breakdown of the essential components
When it comes to making a great burger, there are a few essential components that are necessary for success.
The first is the patty. A great patty is made with high-quality meat and cooked to perfection.
The second is the toppings. Whether you're going for a classic burger or something more unique, the toppings should complement the patty and add an extra burst of flavor.
The bun is also an important component. It should hold up well to the juiciness of the patty and not fall apart. Many Durham burger spots use brioche buns or potato rolls which add a great texture.
Gluten-free bun options for those with dietary restrictions
For those with dietary restrictions, many Durham burger spots offer gluten-free bun options.
Bull City Burger and Brewery offers a gluten-free bun option for all of their burgers. You can also substitute their regular buns for a lettuce wrap.
At OnlyBurger, they offer a gluten-free bun as well as gluten-free fries. They also have a separate cooking area for those with gluten sensitivities.
A comparison of fast food vs local restaurant burgers in Durham, NC
While fast-food burgers are popular, Durham has plenty of local restaurant options that offer higher quality burgers.
Fast-food chains like McDonald's and Burger King are known for their consistency and affordability, but often lack the attention to detail that local restaurants offer.
Local restaurants often use fresher ingredients and offer a wider range of toppings and sauces for a more unique flavor experience.
Supporting local businesses - why you should choose locally sourced ingredients for your burgers
When you support local businesses, you're not only supporting the community but also ensuring that your food is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Many of Durham's best burger spots, like Bull City Burger and Brewery and The Federal, use locally sourced ingredients to craft their burgers. This not only supports local farmers but also ensures that the ingredients are fresh and of the highest quality.
Choosing local also helps reduce carbon emissions from transportation and supports the local economy. It's a win-win for everyone involved.
The best burger deals and happy hours in Durham, NC
For those who love a good deal, Durham has plenty of options for burger deals and happy hours.
Geer Street Garden offers a Burger and Beer special every Tuesday, where you can get a burger and beer for just $10. They also have a happy hour from 5-7 pm every day with discounted drinks and appetizers.
Hutchins Garage offers their Garage Burger and Fries for just $5 on Mondays. They also have a happy hour from 4-6 pm every day with discounted drinks and appetizers.
Other notable mentions include Burger Bach's Half-Priced Burger Tuesdays and Dain's Place's half-priced burgers on Mondays. And, of course, be sure to check out Town Hall Burger and Beer's Milkshake Monday where you can get a free milkshake with the purchase of any burger.
With so many amazing burger options in Durham, it's hard to choose just one. Whether you're in the mood for a classic burger or something more unique, Durham's burger scene has something for everyone. So go ahead, take a bite out of Durham's best burgers and discover your new favorite spot.