Nov 25, 2023

Dining Guide: 23 of Cleveland's Best Burgers

Bearden’s Why we love it: Since 1948, this iconic family steakburger joint, which stars shakes and hand-cut, battered onion rings, shines with nostalgia thanks to a model train in the dining room and a friendly bear mascot. Try this: “Our signature items are never frozen single-source steakburgers, like the Peanut Butter Bear ($8.35), featuring a steakburger with peanut butter and sweet pickles,” says owner Jim Griffiths. 19985 Lake Road, Rocky River, 440-331-7850,

Betty’s Bomb Ass Burgers Why we love it: “The personality of the truck is really fun and easy,” says Lena Brown, chef and owner of the 10-year-old military-themed food truck. Try this: This restaurant on wheels whips up delicious scratch-made burgers and tots, like the award-winning Boeing Fortress ($12) topped with chunky peanut butter, peppered berry preserves, bacon jam, Coca-Cola braised onions and Tillamook cheddar. Cleveland, 440-719-9196,

Billy’s A Cappelli Martini Bar Why we love it: Known for its long list of fabulous cocktails and happy hour, this intimate, casual, chic spot is perfect for a burger with a specialty martini sidekick. Try this: The delectable Shroom Burger ($16) is topped with grilled mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese. Don't forget that all burgers are served with homemade potato chips. 7338 Industrial Park Blvd., Great Lakes Industrial Park, Mentor, 440-585-8815,

Black Box Fix Why we love it: This Legacy Village favorite whips up gourmet street food and sandwiches by chef Eric Rogers who began his restaurant journey as an 8-year-old helping out at his grandparents’ restaurant. Try this: You'll crave the hibachi burger ($12.50), featuring house-seasoned Angus beef, grilled shrimp, mozzarella, provolone, mushrooms, onions, peppers, a toasted brioche roll and yum yum mayo. 25359 Cedar Road, Lyndhurst, 216-675-3129,

BrewDog Why we love it: This newer Scottish brewery is home to the adult “Hoppy” meal, including a delectable burger, fries and a beer, and a massive fun-filled patio complete with yard games, river views and firepits. Don’t forget the 28 taps pouring a mix of BrewDog and other craft beers. Try this: Order the Fast Joe ($16.45) with a seven-ounce, freshly ground beef patty from Fire River Farms, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, red onion and Elvis Juice bacon jam, served with French fries. 1956 Carter Road, Cleveland, 216-367-2494,

Buckeye Beer Engine Why we love it: Ask Lakewood locals where to grab a burger and Beer Engine is sure to be named. This low-key gourmet burger haven offers six specialty burgers and a German-focused beer list with 25 taps. Try this: The cooked-to-order West Side burger ($11.75) has caramelized onions, New York sharp cheddar, Rudy's Strudel potato and cheddar pierogi and sour cream. 15315 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-2337,

Burgers 2 Beer Why we love it: With pubs in Concord, Twinsburg, Highland Heights and more, this funky local chain offers customizable 100% grass-fed beef burgers and 16 house-picked specials. Try this: Devour the Luther ($12), a pretty basic combo of American cheese and crispy bacon — until you get to the toasted glazed-doughnut bun. Various locations,

CleaveLand Grocers Why we love it: "We use high-quality Halal meat briskets that are all choice grade or higher that we process ourselves,” says restaurant, grocer and deli owner Fasih Syed. As the only HFSAA-certified Halal restaurant in Ohio, this two-year-old family business offers beef, chicken or lamb. Try this: Locals love the (house-ground daily) double cheddar smash burger ($12.99) with burger sauce and fries. Add-ons like egg, beef bacon or grilled onions take it to the next level. 13425 Snow Road, Brook Park, 216-644-3340,

Eugene KitchenWhy we love it: Chef Michael Schoen started serving his famed Tin Man burger at the former Ohio City Galley. While the West 25th food hall didn't survive — closing just before the pandemic in late February 2020 — that iconic smash burger is alive and well in a permanent space at BotteHouse Brewery. Try this: “The Tin Man Burger ($14) is our flagship with two quarter-pound smash patties made with all-Ohio beef and toasted challah bun, Great Lakes American cheese with special sauce with homemade pickles and onions," says chef/owner Mike Schoen. "Every burger gets slices of the house-made, sweet and spicy pickles, a fan favorite.” Honorable mention: Vegan burger ($13) with house-made roasted beet and pistachio patty. 13368 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-401-9473,

The Fairmount Why we love it: This chic family-owned American bar and grill concept with 10 beers on tap (and frosé) at the outside bar boasts an enormous secluded patio, making it a Cleveland favorite. Try this: Vegetarians love the Fairmount black bean burger ($15), a house-made black bean patty with avocado, pickled red onion, lettuce and chipotle aioli, served with fries or a Caesar salad. 2448 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-229-9463,

Flip Side Why we love it: Stop by your nearest Flip Side for savory burgers, including turkey burgers and tasty shakes by restaurateurs Shawn and Tiffany Monday and Michael Schwartz. On top of Ohio-raised and grass-fed beef, you’ll find a range of beers on tap as well as a lovely cocktail selection. Plus, don't miss out on the Brisket Fries with pickled jalapenos. Try this: The aptly named Green Eggs and Ham Burger ($12.49) is topped with prosciutto, a fried egg, warm spinach, crispy Parmesan and basil mayo. Various locations,

Fresh & Meaty Burger Why we love it: Hailing from Los Angeles, this Black-owned business offers a traditional American hamburger stand experience with simple fixings sure to entice any flavor palate. Try this: The turkey burger ($7) is the most popular burger in California, where the business began. The leaner option is quickly gaining in popularity with Clevelanders looking for a delicious red meat alternative. 13187 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-371-4400,

Good Company Why we love it: With casual retro vibes and a menu full of American comfort food, including boozy milkshakes, Good Company crafts legit burgers with a savory flavorful kick in Detroit Shoreway's Battery Park neighborhood.Try this: The Good One ($15) has two Certified Angus Beef patties made with a custom sirloin and beef belly blend and topped with griddled onions, malted pickles, shredded lettuce, American cheese and Company sauce on a house-made poppyseed milk bun, served with a side of red relish. 1200 West 76th St., Cleveland, 216-331-0318,

Gunselman's Tavern Why we love it: Locally sourced meat cooked on a cast iron skillet has made Gunselman’s Tavern, formerly Fairview Park Public House, a Cleveland mainstay for burgers since 1936. Try this: Regulars chomp on the Gunny BBQ bacon burger ($13) with spicy BBQ sauce, hickory-smoked bacon, cheddar and onion straws. Gunselman's Tavern, 1490 Lorain Road, Fairview Park; Gunselman’s To-Go, 21800 Center Ridge Road, Rocky River, 440-331-5719,

Heart of Gold Why we love it: In Ohio City, this casual spot mixes industrial trends with soft, bright aesthetics thanks to its inviting, white-and-brick dining room. While we typically come for the burger, house-made Lunchables, everything-spiced waffle fries and other seasonal options, including cocktails, are great to enjoy on the patio. Try this: "While every season brings a newly crafted lineup of dishes, the Heart of Gold Smash Burger ($15) reigns supreme as our all-time best-seller," says executive chef Joe Zegarac. "The use of 70-30 Certified Angus Beef blend (meaning 70% lean, 30% fat) accompanied by an oversized milk bun from Tremont's Leavened Bakery sets us apart from the many burgers in town. Melty American cheese, thin sliced onion, dill pickle chips and maggi mayo seal the deal." 14133 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, 216-938-8711,

Heck’s Why we love it: Heck’s iconic juicy burgers and fries are must-orders at the casual-yet-cool American eatery with cocktails, beers and on-trend friendly vibes. Try this: You’ll love the Burger Au Cheval ($16) with bacon, cheddar, fried egg and sour cream. Various locations,

Johnny's Little Bar Why we love it: The longtime Downtowner is an old-timey dive bar and a true hidden gem. Try this: Order up the Little Bar burger ($8.75) with chips (add choice of cheese for $1). 614 Frankfort Ave., Cleveland, 216-861-2166,

Midway Oh Boy Why we love it: This independently owned and family-operated diner showcasing hand-dipped milkshakes, homemade soups and burgers blessed by Michael Symon himself “is a place lots of generations bring back their own kids” as the restaurant celebrates 70 years, says Kim Disbrow, manager and a daughter of the owners. Try this: “What we’re known for is the original Oh Boy” ($6.29), named after what the original owner proclaimed out loud when he landed on the perfect recipe, featuring a double-decker burger with lettuce, sauce and cheese, with a bun in middle (created before the Big Mac), says Disbrow. “It’s all about the sauce.” Various locations,

Noble Beast Brewing Co.Why we love it: This lively Downtown microbrewery is known for its friendly industrial atmosphere and elevated American brewpub kitchen that often uses spent grains in its menu items. Try this: Opt for the Beyond Burger ($16.50) for a Beyond Burger meatless patty, thick-cut American cheese, snakebite pickles, hefeweizen ketchup, beer mustard, Alegar macerated onion and sesame seed challah bun with slaw or chips. 21470 Lakeside Ave., 216-417-8588,

Rowley Inn Why we love it: A Tremont icon, the Rowley Inn is a no-frills kind of joint. “Our menu is very Cleveland comfort food-centric with unique and flavorful dishes like pierogi, kielbasa and house-made corned beef,” says owner Jon Oberman. Try this: Stop by for the delicious hand-shaped burgers mixed with a special blend of spices served on On the Rise brioche buns. “Our most popular besides our basic burger is the Breakfast Burger ($16) made with egg, bacon, home fries (on the burger), cheddar and spicy mayo, served with fries," says Oberman. 104 Rowley Ave., Cleveland,

Simply Greek Why we love it: Greek cuisine with attention to all the details. “We do all the little things that you don’t think of,” says co-owner Pete Moissis, who grew up in Greek restaurants. Try this: The flat-top burger ($10) might be an oddity for a Greek restaurant, but it stands out thanks to a half-pound certified premium Black Angus burger made from humane, vegetarian-fed Kansas meat. The beef has so much flavor, it doesn’t need extra toppings, says Moissis. 33700 Aurora Road, Solon, 440-498-4976,

Stevenson's Bar & Grill Why we love it: The East Side's favorite smash burger might have moved away from its original Lakeshore Boulevard location in 2013, but the East 200th Street location retains all the dive-bar charm that's made it a Euclid-Cleveland staple since 1920. The prices haven't gone up much either, with everything but the double under $10. Try this: The Cheese burger with The Works ($8.95) is a classic done right with lettuce, onion and tomato. It's served as inspiration for dozens of burger-flipping chefs, including Michael Schoen's Tinman Burger at Eugene's Kitchen in Lakewood. 800 E. 200th St., Cleveland, 216-999-7156,

Suds Maguire's Why we love it: This hidden gem bar and grill serves up a dang good burger crafted with a premium blend of ground chuck, short rib and brisket in a no-frills atmosphere with a spacious pet-friendly patio and all your favorite drafts (and Tuesday trivia night). Don't write this off as a sports bar; this is a longtime Berea favorite. Try this: The Angry Abby ($14.50) stays true to its name and lays on some heat: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, jalapenos, Ohio pepper jack cheese and Sriracha mayo, served with fries. 1270 W. Bagley Road, Berea, 440-973-4243,

Get ahead of the weekend by signing up for our free weekly “In the CLE” newsletter — your guide to fun throughout The Land. Arriving in your inbox every Wednesday, this weekend to-do list fills you in on everything from concerts to museum exhibits — and more. Click here to subscribe.

food & drink

8:00 AM EST

August 3, 2023

Bearden’s Why we love it: Try this: Betty’s Bomb Ass Burgers Why we love it:Try this: Billy’s A Cappelli Martini Bar Why we love it:Try this: Black Box Fix Why we love it:Try this: BrewDog Why we love it:Try this: Buckeye Beer Engine Why we love it:Try this: Burgers 2 Beer Why we love it:Try this:CleaveLand Grocers Why we love it:Try this:Eugene KitchenWhy we love it:Try this:The Fairmount Why we love it:Try this: Flip Side Why we love it:Try this:Fresh & Meaty Burger Why we love it:Try this:Good Company Why we love it:Try this:Gunselman's Tavern Why we love it:Try this:Heart of Gold Why we love it:Try this:Heck’s Why we love it:Try this:Johnny's Little Bar Why we love it:Try this:Midway Oh Boy Why we love it:Try this:Noble Beast Brewing Co.Why we love it: Try this:Rowley Inn Why we love it: Try this: Simply Greek Why we love it: Try this:Stevenson's Bar & Grill Why we love it:Try this:Suds Maguire's Why we love it: Try this: