First Seattle Burger Thread

OK, so I see a lot of lurkers and not many posters here…

So, the lowly underpraised hamburger… Where to find the best in the greater Seattle area? It can be any style, any price, any oevre. Just please describe it and explain what you think makes it great.

I’ll lead off with the HH cheeseburger at Sand Point Grill. Perfect grind, good size, excellent bun, Beecher’s cheese and Niman Ranch bacon. Served with Kenebunk fries and a pint for $10.

Local critic Tom Armitage sings praises of the HH burger at Goldfinch Tavern (in the Olympic Four Seasons). Anyone tried its burger?

Finally, I saw a fantastic burger go by me recently at Quoin (the house bar at Revel). Anyone had that?


Kaleo, what is “HH” please?

Sorry. It’s shorthand for Happy Hour.

OK, replying to myself again… Wahine & I finally made it to Goldfinch Tavern for their vaunted Happy Hour burger.

Let me say at the outset that Goldfinch Tavern isn’t a tavern. It’s not a bar, either. It’s basically the captive, in-house restaurant inside the small lobby of sparse, plain, understated, modern, cold, boring, confusing new Olympic Hotel (not to be confused with their former grand location).

There is a bar area–except when there’s not. Confused? We were. Turns out that, whenever management decides they’re “busy”, the bar area magically transmorphs into “restaurant”, and the whole thing becomes reservation-only. Even at the small, low tables set among couches in the obvious “bar” area.

But never fear, walk-in service is available out in the lobby. There, you’ll find yourself in the way of hotel guests checking in/out and accessing the elevators with their strollers and luggage. You can try sitting on some bizarre serpentine leather banquets, or roast your buttocks on a 6" hearth bench. But wait, there are already hotel guests drying their rainwear there! But if you wait long enough (so that the servers can’t avoid getting stinkeye), you might get waited on.

We ordered two well cocktails, the vaunted burger, a HH hanger steak. Both plates came with a tiny serving of cold fries. The steak was overly fatty, cold, and oversalted. The burger was small, dry, dense and laden with some form of pickled cocktail garnish. We could discern none of the cheese that was advertised, but there was a token chuck of onion jam. Bun was semi-stale brioche. The aoli that came with the fries and steak was strongly artificial tasting.

Totally meh. I’ve had better food in airport concourses.

What makes it all worthwhile? Well, for two meh Happy Hour bites and two well drinks, try $60!

Not. Going. Back.

Still looking for #1. So far, it’s Sand Point Grill. Goldfinch Tavern shouldn’t make the top 25.

Yuck :frowning:

Egads, that sounds horrible!

lol, nice reviewing. What exactly would artificial aioli flavor be? I doubt they’re using powdered garlic, but I do believe hotel food is almost always going to be made with an unfortunate amount of indifference.

Hi, Babette:

The aoli tasted to me as if it had been manipulated. It was bitter and over-the-top olive-y, and not in a good way. It would have tasted worse had the fries not been served at room temperature.


They must have made it with extra virgin. You weren’t really an Ethan Stowell acolyte to begin with, were you?

I’ll leave ES places to others, thanks. 0-4 is enough for me.

Interestingly, I went to Goldfinch without realizing it was part of the ES caliphate. Had I known, I wouldn’t have gone. Had I learned of it once there, I would have left. As it was, it was like a blind wine tasting…

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So late this afternoon I was in the Laurelhurst area, and decided to stop back in to Sand Point Grill. I wanted to check that that first superlative burger wasn’t a fluke or I was too giddy.

Damn, that’s a fine burger–every bit as impressive as the first try. If burgers existed in 340 BC, this is the one Plato would have written about as the ideal. Our server recommended the Reuben ($9) as similarly outstanding.

Here’s the Happy Hour deal: You can have (a) a great burger, great fries, and local micro in a classy setting (and free parking) for $13.50 before tip. Or (b) a mediocre burger, cold fries, terrible aoli and a well cocktail in the damp, cramped lobby of a 1st Avenue hotel for $30, including parking 4 blocks away.

Next stop: Rain City Burgers.



I just had the Bleu Truffle burger at Perihelion Brewery in Beacon Hill. Delicious–juice was dripping all over my plate and I kept dipping my burger back in as I ate. Their fryer was out of commission so I can’t speak for the fries, but the beer is good and it’s an excellent location. Loved the feel of the place and was surprised at such a good burger. (They also have a bacon burger with a thick, salty piece of pork belly on top.)

The last good local burger I had was at Spur. That onion jam really sends it over the top.

(Not a burger but somewhat related) I had Quinn’s Sloppy Joe again recently. Still yummy and perfectly piquant.

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Anyone try Great State Burgers yet? The Laurelhurst location is now open (where the old “Bill the Butcher” used to be- right off the Burke Gilman Trail). I was going to check it out on Friday but got sidetracked by Saint Helens Cafe (which is right next door).

And FYI- Saint Helens is delicious but a little $$ (for me anyways. maybe not so much for the residents of Laurelhurst).

No, but I will soon–my barber is directly across the street. If you beat me to it, please post your review!

I went to Great State for lunch on Saturday- I had a double burger for around $10.00. I did not add on pickles or grilled onions, but retrospectively wish I had. The burger was really good- the very flavorful burger patty (x 2) is smashed flat and griddled until the edges are nice and crispy, served on a squishy toasted bun (which looks like a cheap grocery store bun, but is not) with lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and some sort of burger sauce that is pretty good. Did not try the fries or milkshake because I wasn’t that hungry and didn’t feel like forking out another ~$10.

Service was good. Order at the counter, limited seating area. I recommend eating there since the burger comes off the grill screaming hot and crispy and I don’t think it would be as good with a delay. I suspect that the bun might not maintain its integrity after more than 5 minutes or so due to the juicy, saucy, goodness of the burger patties.

I think the goal of Great State is to be an upscale version of Dick’s or Kidd Valley. The sourcing is impeccable, but it comes at a price. The burger was really tasty but will only be a “once in a while” treat for me, and not a part of my regular lunch rotation.

Hi, chocolat:

I was psyched to try Great State after I got my last haircut, but my barber, who’s a foodie, warned me away.

I’ll probably still try it, though. What do you think distinguishes a Great State burger from the “upscale Dick’s” of Burgermaster, just a few blocks away?


it’s a different style of burger- Burgermaster is a classic thin patty griddled until cooked- maybe steamed a little under a dome. The texture is loose and tender throughout.

The Great State Burger seems to fit under the “smashburger” model, where the patty is smashed flat and griddled over high heat until the edges are crispy and super crusty.

They’re both good. Personally, I think the crusty edges are delicious and elevate the GS burger over the Burgermaster burger. Whether it’s worth twice the price is up to you.

We’ve been driving past Burgermaster and intend to check it out next week.

Some of their older (Aurora) and newer (Mt. Vernon) locations are still configured as drive-ins with carhops. Old-style fast food. Either you like it or not, hard to predict.

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