Last summer, Eater took a look at America's most elusive dishes — highly desirable dishes that are only available in limited quantities — and, well, a whole lot of them were hamburgers. And just a quick look at each of those burgers makes it obvious why: these hamburgers are juicy, cheesy and occasionally tricked out wonders. And it turns out that there are even more hamburgers out there just waiting to be discovered and devoured. What follows here is a guide to some of America's most elusive hamburgers and how to get your hands on them.
Holeman & Finch Burger
Location: Atlanta, GA
Why It's Elusive: Only 24 are available at 10 p.m.
The Situation: The magic hour at Atlanta's Holeman & Finch is 10 p.m. when a staff member with a bullhorn calls out to the dining room that "burger time" has finally arrived. Every night at the stroke of 10, 24 lucky diners will get their hands on these double patty cheeseburgers that come on house-made buns with ketchup, mustard and pickles.
How to Get One: Showing up early is especially beneficial here as you can reserve your burger in advance at any point during dinner service. According to the Holeman & Finch website, "Oftentimes, they're completely spoken for well in advance of burger time." That said, Eater Atlanta editor Sonia Chopra points out that the burger is available at Sunday brunch and at the restaurant's three new burger stands at Turner Field, home of the Braves.
[Photo: The Small Boston Kitchen/Flickr]
Craigie on Main Burger
Location: Cambridge, MA
Why It's Elusive: There are less than 20 available.
The Situation: One of Boston's most popular burgers is also one of its most elusive. The Craigie on Main burger has gotten a lot of press for an off-menu burger that's only served at the restaurant's bar. Rather than change purveyors to meet demand, chef Tony Maws has kept quantities limited in order to keep quality high. The burger is ground in-house from three cuts of meat and beef bone marrow.
How to Get One: Again, arriving at the restaurant early will help your chances of getting your hands on this burger, but consider arriving before the restaurant even opens. As a rep told Eater last summer, there's often a line before doors open at 5:30 p.m.
[Photo: Nicole Franzen]
The Burger at Gramercy Tavern's Tavern Room
Location: New York, NY
Why It's Elusive: Only about 20 burgers are available at lunchtime.
The Situation: Danny Meyer's Gramercy Tavern serves its very own elusive burger at the Tavern Room daily during lunch hours. The restaurant butchers and grinds a limited amount of beef each day and serves it on a house-made wheat bun topped with bulgur. According to Eater NY, it also comes topped with "crumbled cloth-bound cheddar cheese? pickled watermelon rind, cucumbers, a trio of onions, tomato, lettuce and homemade ketchup, mustard and smoked bacon mayo."
How to Get One: The Tavern is walk-ins only, and a rep has previously said that the summer is the best time to get a walk-in table. These are sold until they run out, which "can be 1 PM or it could be 5 PM," per Eater NY.
Photo: [Nicole Franzen]
Rainbow Lodge's Wild Game Burger
Location: Houston, TX
Why It's Elusive: There's only 60 available every Friday.
The Situation: The Rainbow Lodge famously hosts Wild Game Burger Fridays at lunchtime, featuring rotating burger blends that they announce ahead of time on Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes it's a blend of buffalo, venison, pork belly and ribeye trim with crumbled chorizo and queso fresco; other times it might be buffalo, venison, antelope and pork belly with pimento fontina and fried green tomatoes. While these wild game burgers used to be extremely elusive — only 12 were available each Friday — Eater Houston's Eric Sandler reports that "they've dramatically increased production" with 60 burgers available each week.
How to Get One: Rainbow Lodge opens for lunch at 11:30 a.m. and, according to Facebook, they tend to run out of the burgers around 4 p.m. So get there early.
The Le Pigeon Burger
Location: Portland, OR
Why It's Elusive: There are only five available each night.
The Situation: Le Pigeon first incited burger hysteria years ago when it began offering a mere five burgers each night. As owner Gabriel Rucker explained to The Oregonian, it was partly because buns from Ken's Artisan Bakery only came five to a pack and also because they "didn't want to turn into a hamburger store."
How to Get One: Sure, you could show up early to get one, or you could just go to Le Pigeon's sister restaurant Little Bird Bistro. The burger is available all the time at Little Bird.
The Luther at ChurchKey
Location: Washington, DC
Why It's Elusive: There are only 30 available on Sundays.
The Situation: Sunday brunch is pretty serious at ChurchKey, where those in the know will find the Luther Burger available in very limited quantities. Not actually a beef burger (sorry), the Luther sandwiches fried chicken between a brioche doughnut with bacon and maple jus. There's only 30 available all day.
How to Get One: Get in early and be sure to ask for it. As of this month, though, there's another option for finding The Luther. ChurchKey's owners recently opened a fried-chicken-and-doughnuts restaurant named GBD nearby in Dupont Circle, and they put The Luther on the dinner menu there.
The Burger at Red Apron Union Market
Location: Washington, DC
Why It's Elusive: There are only 20 available on Fridays.
The Situation: From the same folks behind ChurchKey, Red Apron has its very own elusive burger at its Union Market location. This $8 burger is made with Red Apron's own 80/20 blend of brisket, short rib, sirloin and ground beef, topped with cheddar, house-made pickles, lettuce, tomato and Nathan Anda's "island" dressing, all on a brioche bun. According to a rep, they're only doing 20 of these on Fridays at this specific location starting at noon.
How to Get One: Get there as close to noon on Friday as possible, if not earlier. Burgers are usually gone by 2 p.m., but they'll probably go faster as more people get wind of this Friday special. But if you're able to get out to the outskirts of DC, this burger is also available at Red Apron's Mosaic District location.
[Photo: Two Boroughs Larder]
The Two Boroughs Larder Burger
Location: Charleston, SC
Why It's Elusive: There are only 25 burgers available on Wednesday evenings.
The Situation: Two Boroughs Larder has long had a burger special that occasionally graced its menu, but last fall they went ahead and made it a weekly deal. Now burger enthusiasts pack the restaurant on Wednesday evenings, when the burgers become available in limited quantities starting at 5 p.m. Each burger involves two patties (10 ounces of meat in total) on a brioche bun topped with bacon and slathered in Mornay sauce. The toppings do change occasionally depending what the restaurant has in store: Nueske's bacon or Benton's bacon and, for the pickles, perhaps some pickled okra, cucumbers or the kimchi that is gracing this week's burger.
How to Get One: Owner Josh Keeler says that people sometimes show up at 4:45 p.m. to wait for the burgers, which usually sell out by 8:30 but have been known to be gone as early at 7 p.m. Fortunately, the restaurant is open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., so there's plenty of time to arrive early for the 5 p.m. burger time.
The Burger at Drink
Location: Boston, MA
Why It's Elusive: Only 15 are available per night.
The Situation: The burger isn't on the menu at Barbara Lynch's basement-level cocktail bar, nor is it available in any great quantity. Burger expert Richard Chudy reviews the burger for Boston magazine, noting that only 15 are available each night. As for the burger itself, he writes that it "is about as mainstream as it gets" with double patties on a sesame seed bun, with house-made pickles and a Thousand Island-like dressing.
How to Get One: Drink opens at 4 p.m. and is insanely popular, so show up on the early side if you hope to snag one of these hot burgers.
The Burger at Biwa
Location: Portland, OR
Why It's Elusive: It's only available during late-night hours.
The Situation: The six-year-old Biwa is usually known for its ramen and yakitori, but late at night the thing to get is the Biwa hamburger. Made with seasoned ground beef, kimchi mayo and chasyu, this burger has become quite the cult favorite for one that isn't even available until 10 p.m.
How to Get One: Stay up real late for late-night dinner at Biwa. The restaurant also will sometimes offer the burger during dinner service on special occasions like its anniversary.
The Tuesday Burger at Rosamunde Sausage Grill
Location: San Francisco, CA
Why It's Elusive: It's only available on Tuesday at lunchtime.
The Situation: Obviously Rosamunde Sausage Grill is known for its sausages, but the Haight Street location in San Francisco has also gained some fame for its burger special on Tuesdays. Owner Josh Margolis explains, "It changes the whole dynamic of a sausage place and so we only do it one day a week." Every Tuesday, Rosamunde starts making its burgers to order at 11:30 a.m. The burgers — which are pretty standard beef burgers with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, ketchup and cheddar — have become insanely popular to the point where they're usually out by 1:30 or 2 p.m.
How to Get One: "The tip and the trick to getting a burger on Tuesday is to either come early before we open and stand in line, or come before 12 noon," writes Margolis. "If you get one after that, then that's great. If not, get a sausage, that's what we do when we're not making burgers."
The Hitching Post II Burger
Location: Buellton, CA
Why It's Elusive: The off-menu burger is only available Monday-Wednesday nights.
The Situation: This family-owned California wine country restaurant was featured in the Paul Giamatti movie Sideways, but its other claim to fame is the fantastic burger. Available Monday through Wednesday nights at the bar, the Hitching Post burger is about as house-made as it gets. The restaurant grinds its own beef, smokes its own bacon and makes its own buns in-house. Burgers are customizable with cheese, tomato and the usual burger toppings, too.
How to Get One: The Hitching Post II doesn't take reservations at its bar, which is the only place to get the burger. The burgers do sometimes run out, and a rep says that Monday nights are the busiest. So try to get in early on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.