Charleston is TLP’s home base, and we love a good burger. So here’s our list for your next lunch or dinner in the Holy City. You’ll notice that the fried egg is the tasty mascot of some of Charleston’s juiciest, so take your taste buds on a trip, or get inspired and slide an egg atop your next home-cooked patty.
At HoM, a retro style ping-pong and burger joint on upper King Street, all the burgers are ground using a measured mixture of chuck, brisket, and short rib for just the right balance in flavor and texture. If you crave decadence, go for The Hurricane, a single patty stuffed with duck confit and goat cheese and topped with crispy fried onion, vanilla onion relish and “HoM” made steak sauce. The subtle vanilla combined with the duck made for a rich treat you aren’t likely to find elsewhere.
Moe’s may have a neighborhood sports bar vibe, but the food is nothing like your typical greasy bar fare. All of their burgers are pretty hefty, and we loved the BLT Burger, an option that is a decidedly foodie fit. The fresh mozzarella isn’t the kind of cheese you’d expect on a bar burger, but it was delicate and delicious with the pesto mayo and the crunchy, breaded texture of the fried tomato.
Johns Island’s Fat Hen offers a build-your-own burger option that isn’t quite what you would expect from this quaint, French restaurant on Maybank Highway. The burgers are huge, and made of dry aged chuck beef, ground in-house. We topped ours with cheddar, caramelized onions and mushrooms, fried egg, bacon, and house made pickles, but all the toppings they offer are fresh and sourced from local farms, so you can’t go wrong. We especially recommend a hearty portion of mushrooms on whatever you choose, for that deeply satisfying, straight from the garden taste.
Head out to Sullivan’s Island and snag a porch seat at this popular beach bar, where the burgers are all named after Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories. While their namesakes may be horrifying and tragic, their house-ground, made to-order burgers are anything but. We were especially fond of The Sleeper, a plump, lightly charred mountain of beef topped with spicy buffalo fried shrimp and a roasted garlic blue cheese sauce that was chunky, rich and downright phenomenal in flavor.
CFB is known for its draft beer selection, but it’s their Business Burger that has us talking. The Business Burger comes with a base of beef, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion, but you can customize beyond that with a variety of toppings such as the egg, bacon and pimento cheese we ordered on ours. Their meat is ground in-house, lean, not the least bit greasy, and came out dripping with creamy pimento. When mixed with the egg, the flavor was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
You may have heard of Husk before … after all, it is one of Charleston’s top gourmet food destinations. But if you’re stopping in the bar, don’t be afraid to go simple with your order—they serve up a mean burger. It’s served on a Benne Seed bun with two thin patties, three layers of American cheese, shaved onions, house-made pickles and a special sauce. Maybe it’s that dripping special sauce, or the fact that the patties are ground in house with 10% Benton’s Bacon, but this burger has that extra bit of juiciness, living up to the Husk rep.
The Mac serves up an instant classic with a burger well-suited toward the clean, urban feeling of this restaurant and bar. It’s a no-fuss eight ounces of hearty beef with Nueske’s bacon, aged cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and a brioche-based bun made especially for them via Butcher & Bee. It also comes with a side of truffle frites with shaved pecorino that will have you sneaking fries long after you’re full.
An Avondale neighborhood darling, the variety of their menu can be daunting, so don’t get overwhelmed by all the taco options and forget to check out their burgers. There are surprising offerings like The Wilbur, a beef patty with, cheddar, lettuce, onion and tomato topped with pork belly. Since the meat is high quality and locally sourced, they recommend not cooking it past medium, a recommendation we were glad we followed. The patty was lean, juicy and topped with a pork belly that was wonderful, perfectly cooked, and that flaked effortlessly with a fork.
For a stacked burger that is quick, tasty and easy, you can’t go wrong with Five Guys. It’s a chain, of course, so be prepared for plenty of the good stuff—ketchup, mustard, mayo—on a soft sesame bun with American cheese, bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles and a double layer of thin beef patties. The patties themselves were done just right, with a bit of char, a bit of grease and a ton of flavor. It’s a burger that’s sure to nail that burger craving without slowing down your day.
Rutledge Cab Co. offers a great take on a beef, pepper and onion blend with their Beef Burger. It was an intense and filling number. Featuring an eight ounce patty topped with hoop cheddar cheese, smoked onion aioli, tempura battered Poblano peppers and shredded sirloin, this is not a burger for the meek. The meat was just juicy enough to balance the crunch of the tempura peppers, and it was all made complete with the fresh bun from local bakery Pane Di Vita.
At Oak, they have a strong commitment to serving food with a true sense of hospitality, and we confess, we found their burger perfectly welcoming. Oak offers a burger worthy of a gourmet steakhouse with a patty of brisket, filet and NY strip, ground with a special Oak blend. It is topped with grilled onion, Fontina cheese, bib lettuce and a delicious sliced heirloom tomato. Add a bun fresh from Butcher and Bee, and the burger made for a filling meal. We recommend stopping in for happy hour for gourmet taste at only $10.
The sister restaurant of the ever-popular Five Loaves Café, Sesame offers the same commitment to local, fresh ingredients with a new focus: burgers. The Park Circle is Sesame’s take on the barbeque, and was definitely an option with some kick. We chose to stick with beef for a burger topped with crispy shredded coleslaw, tomato, sharp cheddar, and tangy BBQ sauce.
High Cotton is a place known for steak, and a quick burger at the bar is a bit of a local ritual. The High Cotton steak burger is an instant winner: simple, classic and wonderfully delicious. Choose either pimento or cheddar cheese with lettuce, tomato and sliced red onion on top of their juicy patty for an exemplary experience from this Charleston staple.
The Lot is the new kid on the block in the Charleston culinary scene, but already it has a bit of a secret. Their burger isn’t listed on their menu, but it is available all the time for those who know to ask. All their patties are ground in house and consist of brisket and bottom round cuts from MiBek Farms in Barnwell, S.C. Served on a brioche bun from Pane Di Vita, it comes fresh with bib lettuce, pickled onions and four year aged hoop cheddar, and smothered in a savory house made aioli that is worth investigating.
Our bonus burger (always room for one more!): The Butcher & Bee burger is roll-your-eyes-back-and-sigh good. The condiments are housemade, the bun is housemade and so good that other restaurants buy from them, and if you get one of these late night – they’re open til 3 a.m. some nights – then it doesn’t get better than this.