Rare Finds
On the hunt for some of the suburbs’ most sensational burgers? These hot spots have you covered.
by Bill Donahue

Few, if any, foods pack more red-blooded, American wallop than the iconic burger. It’s easy to see why: the simple comforts of perfectly cooked beef, complemented by precisely chosen toppings, placed on a fresh bun. Burgers are the currency of summertime cookouts, but they’re also the perfect food as we march toward winter. The following 10 restaurants offer some truly excellent burgers you’re going to want to check out—if you haven’t already, that is. Some have a more inventive touch, while others are more straightforward, but they don’t need to be anything but. Enjoy.  

Penn Taproom
Peruse Penn Taproom’s menu, and you’ll find a terrific lineup of burgers. From the Mushroom Swiss variety to the Truffle Rosemary, from the Bacon Bleu to the Spicy State Street, the options abound at this Doylestown hot spot. And if you’re looking for something with a little less red meat, you can’t go wrong with Penn Taproom’s turkey burger or exceptional black-bean-and-quinoa veggie burger. PennTaproom.com  

Bowman’s Tavern
New Hope
At the New Hope original and its sister location in Ottsville, better known as Bowman’s North, steer your palate toward one of Bowman’s hormone-free, grass-fed burgers. The straight-from-the-menu burgers—the Black & Blue, the Bowman Burger, and the Guacamole Burger—should suit any taste, but feel free to “build your own” by adding everything from cherry hot peppers and grilled mushrooms to bacon and blue cheese. The house-made vegetable burger is a crowd pleaser, too. BowmansTavernRestaurant.com 

Caleb’s American Kitchen
The foundation of every Caleb’s burger is a satisfying combination of brisket and ground beef of short rib (or you can substitute with a turkey burger). Caleb’s signature entry—the appropriately named C.A.K. Signature Burger—features a patty blessed with roasted red onion, rosemary aioli, and a hearty helping of Gruyere. Who could say no to that? Other winning options include varieties of the bacon-cheddar and blue cheese sort. CalebsAmericanKitchen.com 

Hickory Kitchen
To say Hickory Kitchen has something for everyone is putting it lightly. Whether you consider yourself fully omnivorous or a devout vegetarian, the menu at this D-town hot spot will serve you well. In case you need more convincing, just consider three of the half-pound Angus burgers on the menu: the Chipotle Bison Burger, the California Avocado Cheeseburger, and the Cheeseburger with Pulled Pork and Slaw. It also has two exemplary vegetarian options. HickoryKitchen.com 

Firepoint Grill
Newtown Square
Summer’s departure brings a tear to our eye, in part because the end of kinder weather means fewer sunny days on Firepoint’s amazing outdoor patio. Besides fine alfresco dining, though, Firepoint is also a destination for high-quality, imaginative burgers. Any place whose menu advertises a “Burger Bar” must offer some impressive options—and this Newtown Square stunner certainly delivers in that regard. Notable options include: the Grilled Steak Burger, featuring ground sirloin and assorted fixings on brioche; the Firepoint Burger, with applewood-smoked bacon, Vermont cheddar, and whiskey barbecue sauce; and the Crabcake Burger, with tartar sauce and crispy onions. OK, we feel better now. FirepointGrill.com

General Warren
It’s happy hour in Malvern. Where do you go? Our recommendation: Belly up to the bar of the General Warren’s magnificent tavern and make the most of half-price beers (or, if you prefer, discounted wines and cocktails), as well as a gorgeous happy hour menu that includes the Warren Burger. This masterpiece requires no gilding of the lily—just a perfect patty, topped with bacon, sharp cheddar, and the classic tomato-onion-lettuce trio. We’re guessing this is going to become a habit. GeneralWarren.com  

Golden Pheasant Inn
We’ve professed our love of the Golden Pheasant on more than one occasion—and here we go again. When on River Road, north of New Hope, stop into the formal dining room for an exquisite dining experience—or opt for the less formal but no less impressive tavern. There, you’ll find a lineup of grass-fed beef burgers sourced from the pastures of nearby Lancaster County. The options are too lengthy to list here, though we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Skinny Burger, featuring French goat cheese, avocado, and kale salad with edamame, sans bun and fries. GoldenPheasant.com 

LUHV Vegan Bistro
With a name like LUHV Vegan Bistro, some meat-and-potato omnivores might be tempted to simply overlook this little gem on Hatboro’s main drag. That would be a mistake. Each highly flavorful, inventive option—recent burgers include the Black Bean, Plantain & Roasted Poblano and the Garbanzo, Flax & Chipotle—is sure to satisfy, if not delight. Our bet: Try LUHV once and you’re going to make this a regular stop. Bistro.LuhvFood.com 

Ron’s Original Bar and Grille
We can’t say enough about the menu at Ron’s Original. And those who love burgers will be hard pressed to find another place with more exciting options, each served with Ron’s crinkle-cut fries. A few options we’d like to call attention to: the Boss Burger, spiked with Carolina barbecue, and gorgonzola, nitrite-free bacon, and coleslaw coming along for the ride; the Kennett Swiss, featuring an abundance of mushrooms and melted cheese; and the Ponderosa, starring onion rings, bacon, Wisconsin cheddar, and much more. RonsOriginal.com  

Southern Cross Kitchen
Have an appetite for fare with a distinct Southern touch? Head to Conshy and take at seat at Southern Cross. The menu is rife with Southern staples such as Cajun shrimp, buttermilk fried chicken, and jambalaya. But this is a story about burgers, so we have to mention the Short Rib Burger, a short rib patty topped with trimmings such as lettuce, red onion, pickled jalapenos, and—wait for it—fried green tomato. This is Southern Cross, after all. SouthernCrossKitchen.com 

Photograph by Jody Robinson

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life Magazine, October 2018.