Burgers are one of the most classic American foods, and Indiana is a state that knows how to make them right. From classic cheeseburgers to gourmet options and everything in between, there are plenty of amazing burger joints in Indiana to choose from. But what makes a burger truly great? Let's explore all the different aspects that make a burger stand out above the rest.
What Makes a Burger Great?
At the heart of any great burger is the quality of the meat. Whether it's beef, turkey, or even a vegetarian patty, the meat needs to be flavorful, juicy, and cooked to perfection. But there's more to a great burger than just the meat. The bun, toppings, and overall presentation all play a role in making a burger truly exceptional.
Another important factor in making a great burger is the cooking method. Grilling is a popular choice, as it adds a smoky flavor and char to the meat. However, some people prefer pan-frying or even baking their burgers. It's important to cook the burger to the desired level of doneness, whether it's rare, medium, or well-done. Additionally, seasoning the meat with salt, pepper, and other spices can enhance the flavor and make the burger even more delicious.
The History of Burgers in Indiana
Indiana may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of burgers, but it has a long and storied history when it comes to this beloved food. Some sources say that the very first hamburger was served in Seymour, Indiana back in 1885, while others credit the creation of the burger to Louis Lassen in New Haven, Connecticut. Whatever its origins, there's no denying that burgers have become an integral part of Indiana's culinary scene.
In fact, Indiana is home to several iconic burger joints that have been serving up delicious burgers for decades. One such establishment is the Triple XXX Family Restaurant in West Lafayette, which has been in operation since 1929 and is famous for its Duane Purvis All-American burger. Another beloved spot is the Workingman's Friend in Indianapolis, which has been serving up classic burgers and fries since 1918. And let's not forget about the Steak 'n Shake chain, which was founded in Normal, Illinois but has deep roots in Indiana and is known for its signature Steakburgers.
Top 10 Burger Joints in Indiana
Now, onto the good stuff. If you're on the hunt for the best burger in Indiana, these 10 spots should be at the top of your list:
- The Workingman's Friend - Indianapolis
- Zest! Exciting Food Creations - Lafayette
- Burgerhaus - Indianapolis
- Boogie Burger - Indianapolis
- Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream - Carmel and Zionsville
- Brew Burger - Jasper
- Triple XXX Family Restaurant - West Lafayette
- BurgerFi - Indianapolis and Plainfield
- Fred's Burgers - Evansville
- Nick's Kitchen - Huntington
Indiana is known for its delicious burgers, but did you know that many of these burger joints also offer unique and creative toppings? At Zest! Exciting Food Creations in Lafayette, you can try a burger topped with peanut butter and bacon jam. BurgerFi in Indianapolis and Plainfield offers a quinoa veggie burger for those looking for a meatless option. And at Brew Burger in Jasper, you can try a burger topped with mac and cheese. So, not only are these spots serving up some of the best burgers in the state, but they're also offering some truly unique and tasty toppings.
The Best Classic Cheeseburgers in Indiana
If you're a sucker for a classic cheeseburger, you can't go wrong with the offerings at these Indiana burger joints:
- The Mug - Greenfield
- Triple XXX Family Restaurant - West Lafayette
- Burgers and Brew - Angola
- Broad Ripple Brewpub - Indianapolis
- Sidney Dairy Bar - Sidney
But if you're looking for something a little different, there are also some unique twists on the classic cheeseburger to be found in Indiana. For example, at Bru Burger Bar in Indianapolis, you can try their "Pimento Cheeseburger" which features a house-made pimento cheese spread. Or, head to The Workingman's Friend in Indianapolis for their "Double Cheeseburger with Grilled Onions" which has been a local favorite for over 100 years.
No matter where you go in Indiana, you're sure to find a delicious cheeseburger to satisfy your cravings. So why not take a road trip and try them all?
Gourmet Burger Options in Indiana
If you're in the mood for a more elevated burger experience, these Indiana restaurants offer plenty of gourmet options:
- Burgerhaus - Indianapolis
- Brew Burger - Jasper
- BRU Burger Bar - Indianapolis, Carmel, and Lexington
- Stacked Pickle - Multiple locations
- Cerulean Restaurant - Winona Lake
Burgerhaus in Indianapolis offers a variety of unique burger options, including the "Bavarian" with sauerkraut and spicy mustard, and the "Black and Blue" with blue cheese and bacon. Their burgers are made with locally sourced, grass-fed beef and served on artisan buns.
At Cerulean Restaurant in Winona Lake, you can enjoy a gourmet burger made with wagyu beef, topped with smoked gouda, bacon jam, and pickled red onions. Their burgers are served with hand-cut fries and a side of house-made ketchup.
Vegan and Vegetarian Burger Options in Indiana
Even if you don't eat meat, you can still enjoy a delicious burger at these Indiana restaurants:
- The Sinking Ship - Indianapolis
- Loving Cafe - Fort Wayne
- The Food Well - Fort Wayne
- Three Carrots - Indianapolis and Bloomington
- BurgerFuel - Indianapolis
Many of these restaurants offer unique and creative burger options that are sure to satisfy your cravings. The Sinking Ship, for example, offers a vegan "chicken" sandwich made with seitan and topped with avocado and chipotle mayo. Loving Cafe has a variety of plant-based burgers, including a black bean burger and a mushroom burger. The Food Well offers a vegan burger made with quinoa and sweet potato, while Three Carrots has a "meatball" sub made with lentils and mushrooms. BurgerFuel offers a vegan burger made with a Beyond Meat patty and topped with vegan cheese and aioli. No matter which restaurant you choose, you're sure to find a delicious and satisfying burger option that fits your dietary preferences.
The Best Burger Chains in Indiana
Not feeling adventurous? These nationwide burger chains have locations throughout Indiana:
- Five Guys
- Steak 'n Shake
- Burger King
However, if you're looking for a more unique burger experience, Indiana has some great local burger chains worth checking out. One of the most popular is Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream, which has locations in Carmel, Westfield, and Zionsville. Their burgers are made with fresh, never frozen beef and come in a variety of creative toppings.
Another great local option is Bru Burger Bar, which has locations in Indianapolis, Carmel, and Plainfield. Their burgers are made with a blend of short rib, chuck, and brisket, and they offer unique toppings like truffle aioli and smoked gouda cheese.
Unique Burger Toppings to Try in Indiana
For those who like to mix things up, these Indiana burger joints offer some interesting and unexpected toppings:
- The Uptown Cafe - Bloomington (try the Cajun Bacon Cheeseburger with avocado and pineapple)
- FoxGardin Kitchen and Ale - Fortville and Indianapolis (try the PB&J Burger with bacon and grape jelly)
- The Rail - Bloomington (try the Breakfast Burger with egg, bacon, and maple syrup)
- Zest! Exciting Food Creations - Lafayette (try the Bacon Marmalade Burger with blue cheese and arugula)
- Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream - Carmel and Zionsville (try the Big Ugly, a massive burger with a pound of meat and all the fixings)
But if you're looking for even more unique burger toppings to try in Indiana, there are a few other places worth checking out. At Bru Burger Bar in Indianapolis, you can try the Bourbon Burger with bourbon-glazed onions and smoked gouda. Meanwhile, at Burgerhaus in Valparaiso and Indianapolis, you can try the Black and Blue Burger with blackened seasoning and blue cheese crumbles.
For those who prefer a vegetarian or vegan option, there are also some great choices. At Three Carrots in Indianapolis, you can try the Beet Burger with roasted beets, lentils, and cashews. And at The Owlery in Bloomington, you can try the Mushroom Swiss Burger with a house-made vegan patty and vegan Swiss cheese.
Best Places to Get a Burger and a Beer in Indiana
Burgers and beer are a match made in heaven, and these Indiana restaurants and bars do it right:
- Books and Brews - Multiple locations
- Oaken Barrel Brewing Company - Greenwood
- The Tap - Bloomington and Indianapolis
- The Wellington - Fishers and Indianapolis
- The Stacked Pickle - Multiple locations
The Most Instagrammable Burgers in Indiana
Let's be real - we all love a good food photo for the 'gram. These Indiana burgers are as photogenic as they are delicious:
- Hollyhock Hill - Indianapolis (try the Hot and Sassy Burger with pimento cheese and jalapeno jam)
- Public Greens - Indianapolis (try the Beet Burger with goat cheese and arugula)
- The Tap - Bloomington and Indianapolis (try the Behemoth Burger with onion rings and BBQ sauce)
- Oasis Diner - Plainfield (try the Big AZ with chili and cheese)
- Zest! Exciting Food Creations - Lafayette (try the Flying Pig Burger with bacon and apple butter)
Interview with a Local Burger Expert: Tips and Recommendations
To get an inside look at Indiana's burger scene, we chatted with burger expert and avid foodie, Joe Smith. Here's what he had to say:
What do you think sets Indiana's burger scene apart from other states?
"I think the quality of the ingredients is a big factor. We have a lot of grass-fed beef farms in Indiana, and many of the restaurants that specialize in burgers really take pride in sourcing their meat ethically and sustainably. Plus, we have such a diverse range of burger joints - from old-school diners to hip and trendy gastropubs."
What's your favorite burger joint in Indiana?
"That's a tough one. I have a lot of favorites! If I had to pick just one, it would probably be The Workingman's Friend in Indianapolis. They've been around for almost a century and they really know how to make a simple, classic burger. Plus, they have great fries."
Any tips for people on the hunt for the best burger in Indiana?
"Just be willing to try new things! Some of my favorite burgers have come from small, out-of-the-way spots that I wouldn't have even known about if I hadn't wandered in. And don't be afraid to ask the restaurant staff for recommendations - they're usually more than happy to steer you in the right direction."
Exploring the Different Styles of Burgers Served in Indiana
Indiana may be a small state, but it offers a wide variety of burger styles to choose from. Whether you're in the mood for a classic cheeseburger or something more adventurous, there's a burger in Indiana that's sure to satisfy:
- Classic cheeseburger
- Bacon cheeseburger
- Mushroom Swiss burger
- Jalapeno burger
- BBQ burger
- Pimento cheese burger
- Veggie burger
- Turkey burger
- Slider burger
- Gourmet burger
How to Make the Perfect Homemade Burger: Tips from Chefs in Indiana
Not in the mood to go out to eat? You can still indulge in a delicious burger from the comfort of your own home. We asked some of Indiana's top chefs for their best tips for making the perfect homemade burger:
- "Start with high-quality meat. You really can taste the difference." - Chef Jamie Oliver, Oliver's Twist (Fort Wayne)
- "Don't overcook the meat! You want it to be juicy and flavorful, not dry and tasteless." - Chef Andrew Whitmoyer, Cerulean Restaurant (Winona Lake)
- "Mix in some seasonings and herbs with the meat - it adds flavor and depth to the burger." - Chef Greg Hardesty, Hardesty's Kitchen (Indianapolis)
- "Toast your bun - it adds an extra layer of flavor and texture." - Chef Tyler Herald, The Wellington (Fishers and Indianapolis)
- "Experiment with toppings! Don't be afraid to get creative." - Chef Sarah Petrie, The Farmhouse (Bloomington)
Why These Burgers Stand Out from the Rest: Customer Reviews and Recommendations
Ultimately, the best way to judge a burger is by trying it yourself. But if you're looking for some guidance, these customer reviews and recommendations will give you an idea of what to expect at some of Indiana's top burger joints:
"The bacon cheeseburger at The Workingman's Friend is one of the best I've ever had. It's no-frills but totally delicious." - Ben K., Indianapolis
"Burgerhaus has the most unique and flavorful burgers in town. The toppings are always fresh and creative." - Sarah W., Indianapolis
"The vegetarian burger at The Sinking Ship is incredible! It's packed with so much flavor and texture. Even meat-eaters will love it." - Lisa F., Indianapolis
"The Big Ugly at Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream is a total bucket-list burger. It's massive and messy but so worth it." - Jack M., Carmel
"If you're a fan of spicy food, the Jalapeno Burger at The Tap is a must-try. It's got the perfect amount of heat." - Karen L., Bloomington
"I never thought I'd like a beet burger, but the one at Public Greens is amazing. The flavors all work together so well." - Tom S., Indianapolis
"The PB&J Burger at FoxGardin Kitchen and Ale is like nothing I've ever tasted before. It sounds weird, but trust me - it's SO good." - Rachel T., Indianapolis
"The burgers at Three Carrots are some of the best vegan options I've had anywhere. They're so flavorful and satisfying." - Alex M., Bloomington
"The breakfast burger at The Rail is the perfect hangover cure. It's got everything - egg, bacon, cheese, and hash browns." - Tim G., Bloomington
"I'm a fan of the simple, classic burgers at The Mug. They're affordable, filling, and always delicious." - Sarah J., Greenfield
Whether you're a longtime burger enthusiast or just starting to explore Indiana's burger scene, there's something for everyone in this state. So put on your stretchy pants and get ready to devour some of the best burgers around.