Best Yuppie Burgers

Upscale, expensive burgers worth every penny.
Allison Austin Scheff  |   January 2012   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
The $14 burger at Quinn's on Capitol Hill.

We’re living in some peculiar culinary times: Geoduck has been upgraded from anonymous chowder clam to star of the raw bar, and the food illuminati eat beef tongue and sweetbreads, know the names of egg farmers and have gotten awfully snooty about their strawberries. And now we’re seeing burgers that cost more than a used Kia. So I hope you’ll indulge me when I call these delicious (but oh so luxe) burgers what they are: burgers for yuppies. Read on to diagnose your yuppie status; and sorry, but since I ate each one of them—happily!—the title of Queen of Yup Burgerville is already taken.

YUPPIE LEVEL 1
At beloved Capitol Hill beer hall Quinn’s, your $14 buys you a half-pound burger of loosely bound Painted Hills beef, cooked perfectly pink inside, and nice and dark on the outside. It’s strewn with cheddar cheese and bacon (and “the works,” if you ask for them—pickles, tomatoes, onions), slathered with mayo and served on a Macrina Bakery brioche bun with a side of dynamite fries. Add in one of the city’s best beer selections and you’ve got a winner winner burger dinner on your hands.

YUPPIE LEVEL 2
Ask yourself: Does your burger satisfaction increase in direct proportion to the amount of juice dripping down to your elbows? Well, say hello to your new best friend: the Skillet burger ($14), found at the bright, sunshiny Skillet Diner. Made with 6 ounces of local, grass-fed Painted Hills beef, this burger’s secret is a thick, deeply caramelized bacon jam that the evil geniuses at Skillet lay on thick. The jam melts into the blue cheese and Brie for a sublime mess of salty/sweet/beefy goodness. (There’s arugula on there for peppery contrast.) A heap of fries comes alongside, but you should consider subbing it with the outstanding kale Caesar salad. Or go completely bonkers and upgrade your fries to poutine ($3 extra): hand-cut fries topped with a cheddar-Parmesan-herb mix and beef gravy. Nap time!

YUPPIE LEVEL 3
If you’re eating a burger in a steakhouse, that burger best be built of serious meat. The Juicy Lucy at swank John Howie Steak (shown above) is that and so much more. Mostly chuck (60 percent) but with ground Kurobuta bacon (a whopping 40 percent!) mixed in, the fatty, rich meat is then stuffed with cheddar and jack cheeses, cooked ’til perfectly medium-rare and then slathered in a sweet onion jam and mayo mixture, topped with fried onions, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and stacked atop a soft, slightly sweet house-baked bun. The fries on the side are perfect: extra-crispy, thick-cut steak fries with the skin on. It’s $15, and worth every penny.

YUPPIE LEVEL 4
At clubby Tavern Law, the signature burger ($19) is everything you could ever want in a yuppie burger: Not only is it made with delicious grass-fed Painted Hills beef, it’s cooked medium-rare, unless you order it otherwise, and then it’s dressed with red wine and onion jam, thyme aioli, melting provolone and two hunks of succulent braised pork belly. (For $4 less, you can get the burger without the pork belly, but it wouldn’t have made our list without it.) The fries that accompany the burger are outstanding and arrive with that house-made thyme aioli, which comes close to stealing the show. You might weep—it’s that good.

YUPPIE LEVEL 5
The ultimate yuppie move? Going to a destination-worthy restaurant—one where oysters on the half-shell, sweetbreads and rainbow trout tempt on the menu—and ordering a $19 hamburger. Oh, but at West Seattle’s smart and stylish Spring Hill, it ain’t just any burger: It’s a half-pound of Painted Hills beef cooked over a real applewood fire (yuppies and cavemen alike agree: There’s no better way to cook meat). The meat, juicy and pink in the center, gets a dark, salty crust from the hot fire and is scented with smoke. Then come the toppings: a slice of house-made American cheese, house-smoked bacon and house-made special sauce served on an English muffin from Dahlia Bakery. Trout, schmout.

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