It’s a hotly contested topic, and I won’t lie…some of my choices are controversial. These are the top ten burgers in Chattanooga according to Chattavore. What are your favorites?
It’s been a year since I first posted this! Exactly a year – since 2016 was a leap year, my birthday falls on a Wednesday just like it did last year! Since it’s my birthday, I thought I’d share my favorite post ever again. I fully intend to have at least one of the burgers off this list this week!
This is a pretty perfect list for today, because it’s my birthday, y’all! You know how I love burgers, so I think a burger list on my birthday is pretty ideal. My top five, from summer of 2013, has gone a long way….but I’ve eaten a lot of burgers since then and wanted to give some love to my new favorites…so here’s my latest list: top ten burgers in Chattanooga (according to Chattavore).
To be fair and objective (I got accused of a little subjectivity the last time I wrote a burger list), I devised a rating system for my top ten burgers in Chattanooga. The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and the categories are: meat (quality of the meat, cook of the meat, and seasoning); cheese (how well does it melt, how much flavor does it add); quality of the bread; toppings (how well-thought-out are the toppings? How do they affect the structural integrity?); and speaking of that-structural integrity (how well does the burger hold together, all the way to the last bite); and size (is it big enough? Is it too big?). I add them all up and divide by 6.
One more thing: in order to be eligible for the list, a burger must be on the menu every day, not a special, and the restaurant must be local.
10. Tie: Merv’s – 3.7
So, after a little thought and recalculation, Merv’s tied with Dub’s. Merv’s is kind of the dark horse here, though lots of people will tell you that Merv’s is the only place in Chattanooga to get a burger. Merv’s used to be known as a pretty dank dive bar that happened to have a great burger. They became non-smoking and family-friendly a few years back, and after a flood put them out of commission for several months Merv’s reopened last year with a totally new look. I wouldn’t call it a dive anymore, that’s for sure! Merv’s hand-patted burgers now come in two sizes (small and large, duh) and is a pretty classic, standard burger-American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, mayo, and mustard. Don’t pass up the hand-cut fries. It’s worth a trip just for those! Ratings: Meat: 3.5; cheese: 4; bread: 3; toppings: 3; size: 5; structural integrity: 3.5.
Dub’s Place – 3.7
Dub’s has been around in Red Bank for many years…it’s definitely a town favorite. Their burgers are simple and old-fashioned…and gigantic. They are hand-patted and well-seasoned and served with very fresh toppings (you choose your own toppings). If you’re looking for something a little different, you can try Dub’s famous crumble burger, which is a delicious and grease-tastic loose meat sandwich. Don’t pass up the shakes here, and let me know if you figure out which states are missing from owner Jordan’s license plate collection! Ratings: Meat: 4; cheese: 4; bread: 3; toppings: 3; size: 4; structural integrity: 4.
9. Southern Burger – 4.0
Southern Burger made the first list, back when their static location was in Warehouse Row. I really think that they had a major role in Chattanooga’s “burger renaissance”, making people put a little more thought into their burgers. The Warehouse Row location is closed now, but they have a beautiful spot in Ooltewah now. My favorite things about Southern Burger: thin patty, bacon jam (which I always add to my burger) and Wickles Pickles. They pile it on to a Niedlov’s bun….this burger was a little messy, so they lost some points for structural integrity. I’m not hatin’, though. Ratings: Meat: 3.5; cheese: 4; bread: 5; toppings: 3; size: 5; structural integrity: 3.5.
8. Mike’s Hole in the Wall – 4.08
Look, I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. I had never been to Mike’s Hole in the Wall….in fact, until a year or so ago I didn’t know it existed. It’s pretty obscure, located on Cherokee Boulevard past the flash and flair of the North Shore, and it’s a pretty small and nondescript space. With a pretty impressive menu for a bar (lots of sandwiches and some out-of-the-box appetizers) even non-burger-lovers will find something to eat here…but the comprehensive burger menu is one of the best I’ve seen, with ten different varieties. We had the “Classic” with added cheese: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mayo, and mustard on a Niedlov’s bun. Executed very well…I can’t believe I’ve never been before! Other reasons to visit: darts, dog-friendly deck, and some of the best hand-cut seasoned fries I’ve ever had. Ratings: Meat: 3.5; cheese: 5; bread: 5; toppings: 4; size: 4; structural integrity: 3.5.
7. Clyde’s on Main – 4.17
A lot of people may be surprised not to see Clyde’s sister restaurant, Urban Stack, on my menu (I liked it but it just didn’t make me want to turn cartwheels). Double Angus beef patties, American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion (which I left off, of course), Duke’s mayo (!!!!), and whole grain mustard on a Niedlov’s bun. I was just expecting an average burger but I got so much more. Dividing the meat into 2 patties gives more surface area to crisp up on the griddle, which pretty much makes the burger for me. This burger held together surprisingly well considering all the toppings. And paired perfectly with a Jungle Juice from the bar! Ratings: meat: 4; cheese: 4; bread: 5; toppings: 3; size: 4; structural integrity: 4.
6. Blue Plate – 4.25
This one was a surprise. I’ve always liked The Blue Plate, but when I ordered the burger this past spring I wasn’t expecting a burger that I would deem worthy of “the list”. Surprise! The best thing about this burger is that the meat is divided into 2 ultra-thin patties that are cooked to a perfect crust and topped with melty American cheese, a slightly sweet, creamy burger sauce, and pickles on a Niedlov’s bun. The Blue Plate tries to source as many ingredients as possible locally and they don’t even own a microwave. Ratings: meat: 4; cheese: 4; bread: 5; toppings: 4; size: 3.5; structural integrity: 5.
5. The Terminal – 4.3
When I originally wrote my first list, the Terminal burger was my number one pick…but then Tremont went and started grinding their own meat, catapulting themselves into the number one spot. Obviously, I’ve had a few more burgers since then and there are some new players on the field as well…but The Terminal still serves an amazing burger. Topping-wise it’s basic, served with your choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle on a Niedlov’s bun. Mayo and mustard are included on request. I always find that the burger here is cooked just the way I like it. It doesn’t hurt that the rest of their menu is fantastic and they serve up their own house-brewed beers. Ratings: meat: 4; cheese: 5; toppings: 3; size: 5; bread; 5; structural integrity: 4.
4. Zarzour’s – 4.4
Zarzour’s has been around for ages, for good reason. Salty-mouthed owner Shannon slings burgers (among other things) Monday-Friday, 11-3:30. These burgers look pretty unassuming, but GAH. They are amazing! She uses the flat-top to put a perfect crust on the burgers, which she puts on a grilled to a crisp Niedlov’s bun along with American cheese, mayo, mustard, ketchup (well, whatever condiments you want, that is), lettuce, tomato, and onion. Almost everyone I saw in the place was having a burger and I totally get why! Ratings: meat: 4; bread: 5; cheese: 4; toppings: 3.5; size: 5; structural integrity: 5.
3. Tie: Slick’s – 4.5
Slick’s has slick (see what I did there?) new digs on Main Street, but I haven’t made it to check them out yet. However, I don’t really care where they’re located…all I care about is that they serve me up a great burger every time. Slick’s is one of the spots that grinds their own meat, and I always appreciate that. You can choose your own meat (beef, turkey, lamb, chicken, veggie) and your own cheese and toppings, or you can choose one of Slick’s creations from the board. It’s all served on a Niedlov’s bun. They have excellent house-cut fries, too! Ratings: meat: 4; bread: 5; cheese: 5; toppings: 5; size: 4; structural integrity: 4.
3. Tie: The Honest Pint – 4.5
Okay, the Pint tied with Slick’s so I had to break the tie. The Pint wins because of their duck-fat fried tots. The burger that I based this score on was the “This Burger is the Jam” burger with caramelized onions, blue cheese, and bacon jam. The Honest Pint uses a very unique seasoning blend on their burgers that adds a great flavor to them. They recently added another burger, the “Papaw’s Minter Cheese Bacon Burger” with applewood smoked bacon and house pimento cheese, that I’ve heard is even better than the Jam Burger. They recently converted to a non-smoking space and now allow the under-21 crowd before 10 p.m. By the way…my initial review of this burger was a little “meh”…but I’ve had it several times since and loved it every time. Ratings: meat: 4; bread: 5; cheese: 4; toppings: 5; structural integrity: 5; size: 4.
2. Tremont Tavern – 4.67
I realize that this is going to cause quite a bit of controversy. Tremont’s house-ground meat gave them the edge on my last list and they are definitely the hometown favorite. They got edged out just a little bit into the number two slot, but don’t let this make you think that I have any less affection for their burgers. To my knowledge, Tremont was the first spot in town to grind their own meat in-house. They offer a large variety of burgers, including the Gouda (pictured here) with Gouda cheese (obvi), onion strings, and BBQ sauce. Tremont is a tiny spot, so I try to time my visits for less busy times; however, they are currently expanding into the space next door so that problem will be over soon! Ratings: meat: 4; bread: 5; cheese: 5; toppings: 5; structural integrity: 4; size: 5.
1. Main Street Meats – 5
Yep. The house burger is the perfect burger. Main Street Meats edged out Tremont with their burgers made from grass-fed beef, dry-aged in house, removed from the case when you order and cooked up in cast iron. Gruyere cheese is melted on top, then the burger is dressed simply with a light layer of mayo on the bottom bun and whole grain mustard, with their amazing Link41 house bacon on top. It has just enough toppings to add amazing flavor but not enough to distract from the flavor of the perfectly crusted meat or effect the structural integrity. They have recently expanded their seating and added a bar and have started serving dinner! Ratings: meat: 5; bread: 5; cheese: 5; toppings: 5; structural integrity: 5; size: 5.
Photo courtesy of Main Street Meats’ Facebook page.
So, those are Chattavore’s top ten burgers in Chattanooga…and now for some honorable mentions:
- Blue Ribbon Café – Would have made the list, but it doesn’t qualify because it’s a special, not part of the daily menu. As far as I know, the only bun made in-house in town!
- Innside Restaurant – I just discovered this one. It’s huge and tasty and served by some very nice people in a spot I’d never even heard of till not too long ago!
- Armando’s Chester Frost – the best burger within a couple of miles of my house!
- Urban Stack – inarguably Chattanooga’s largest variety of burgers.
Now, obviously not everyone feels the same way as I do! I asked my readers to vote for their top ten burgers in Chattanooga as well. Here’s how that went down:
10. Nikki’s Drive-in
9. The Honest Pint
8. Tie: Main Street Meats & Armando’s Chester Frost
3. The Terminal
2. Urban Stack
1. Tremont Tavern
What’s your favorite burger in Chattanooga?