Renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer started opening multi-star innovative restaurants in 1985—Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, the Modern, etc.—but he became a household name when he opened a non-innovative eatery in 2004. Shake Shack is Meyer’s version of a classic American roadside burger joint and like many classic American roadside burger joints, Shake Shack has become a chain with more than 200 locations. Google it and you’re likely to get the hours for the location in Kuwait.
“And yes, I’ll concede, Shake Shack is good, definitely a step above most other fast food burger joints.”
And now, Shake Shack is in Utah. There are few things Utahns love more than having their own outpost of something the rest of the country already has. Remember the lines around the block when Crate & Barrel and H&M opened? And yes, I’ll concede, Shake Shack is good, definitely a step above most other fast food burger joints.
Fortunately, Utah is a burger-loving state and we can eat as many burgers as you can bring on. So when you’re done waiting on line in Sandy remember our our local burger bunch is no slouch in the bun-meat department. So, while we welcome Mr. Meyer and his Shack De Shakes to the Beehive State, we humbly suggest that these burgers from our own backyard are plenty good, thank you very much.
Utah’s Own Pastrami Burger
The state’s signature burger–a beef patty topped with an inch of thin-sliced pastrami–has obscure origins, but it’s available at many of the local burger chains, including Crown Burgers, Apollo Burgers, B&D Burgers and Hires Big H .
The Bar Burger
Lucky 13 won first place for burgers in the World Food Championships in Las Vegas last year with its specially concocted Spicy Candied Cajun Burger. You can choose from the regular menu of 11 burgers, ranging from the foot-tall “Big Benny” with its 28 ounces of ground chuck to the “Ring of Fire,” topped with jalapeños and habaneros to the Fungus Amongus, featuring mushrooms sautéed in red wine. With so many choices, you’re bound to find one you like–finishing it is another matter. Of course, you’ll eat it with a local brew or High West Whiskey. 135 W. 1300 South, SLC, 801-487-4418
The Artisan Burger
Scott Evans’ little cafe, Pago, has been at the forefront of Salt Lake’s local and artisanal food movement. That doesn’t mean the menu is full of esoterica. In fact, its burger is one of the restaurant’s most famous dishes. This intensely planned sandwich holds a patty of fresh Niman Ranch beef topped with white Cheddar, black garlic aioli, local bacon and house-pickled red onion. Wine expert Evans will be happy to find the perfect pairing from his list or by the glass from his Cruvinet. 878 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-532-0777
The Family Burger
Three beef cuts–sirloin, chuck and brisket–are ground together and patted into several size burgers, depending on your appetite, from 1/3 pound to the “tiny” Tony for tots. Tonyburgers is also the place for a full-on American burger meal: Milkshakes here are made to order with real scoops of ice cream and the award-winning french fries are hand-cut and twice fried. 613 E. 400 South, SLC, 801-419-0531, 4675 S. 2300 East, Holladay, 801-676-9686; 1695 Towne Center Dr., South Jordan, 801-679-1194.
The Gourmet Burger
Inside the yeasty house-made bun, The Copper Onion’s (And sister spots Copper Common and Copper Kitchen) beef patty is garnished with aioli, caramelized onions and crisp Iceberg lettuce. You can add cheddar cheese and choose steak fries or an arugula salad to go with. 111 E. Broadway #170, SLC, 801-355-3282, 111 E. Broadway #190, SLC, 801-355-0543, 4640 S. 2300 East #102, Holladay, 385-237-3159.
The Garlic Burger
Garlic burgers are a Salt Lake institution, and The Cotton Bottom Inn is the most authentic place to taste it. A venerable dive with an upscale outdoorsy clientele, Cotton Bottom offers a glimpse into Utah’s classic outdoors lifestyle—great jukebox, cold beer and lots of garlic and tall tales from those who’ve been playing in the mountains on two feet or two wheels. 2820 E. 6200 South, Holladay, 801-273-9830.
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