Cheeseburgers, Sydney; Mary’s
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The original hotspot for good ol’ American-style burgers, Mary’s plays it straight with its big-flavoured cheeseburger featuring two slices of addictive yellow cheese oozing onto a grass-fed meat patty, with a backing band of pickles, onion, ketchup and mustard. 6 Mary Street, Newtown or 154 Castlereagh Street, Sydney (takeaway only).
Cheeseburgers, Melbourne; Leonard’s House of Love
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You want a cheeseburger? You want Leonard’s cheeseburger, where the American cheese melts like tasty lava down the sides of the beef brisket and short rib patty and classic accoutrements. If you’re feeling particularly wild, go the double cheese. 3 Wilson Street, South Yarra; 0428 066 778.
Aussie, Melbourne; The Grand Trailer Park
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Calling this beetroot and egg-lovin’ burger the David Chang is a gentle swipe at the American superstar chef who famously declared, “Australia has no idea what a burger is”. He might otherwise like the combination of beef patty, American cheese, streaky bacon, lettuce and American mustard on toasted brioche. 87 Bourke Street, Melbourne.
Aussie, Sydney; The Hayberry
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With pineapple, beetroot and egg coming to this beef patty party, it’s appropriate (in some eyes) that this American-style Crows Nest diner calls it the Bogan Burger. 97 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest; (02) 8084 0816.
Monster, Sydney; Ze Pickle
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The triple Monster at this Surry Hills outpost will defeat all but the hungriest: three Wagyu patties, triple jack cheese, triple maple-syrup-baked bacon, wood-smoked brisket, fried onion straws, smoked jalapeño and slaw, served between two grilled cheese sandwiches. On second thoughts, enjoy it with the whole family. 6/17-51 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills; (02) 8937 0404.
Monster, Melbourne; Ziggy's
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The Recovery burger is well named. It’s a mountain of restorative fat, salt and carbs, featuring double beef, cheese and bacon, plus some health-giving salad thrown in for good measure. 195 Carlisle Street, Balaclava; 1300 944 497.
Bargain, Melbourne; Burgerlove
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There’s plenty of sub-$10 action on the Burgerlove menu, including the Cheeky Cheesy with double American cheddar, pickles, ketchup, mustard and housemade aioli. 11a/60 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda; (03) 9077 0028, 2 George Street, South Melbourne; (03) 9042 0078 or 5a/321 Chapel Street, Prahran; (03) 9191 0812.
Bargain, Sydney, Paul’s Famous Hamburgers
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It’s been plying its trade for more than 50 years and Paul’s prices have a similar retro feel. Grab yourself a very decent old-school burger for under $10; the optional extras of beetroot and cooked onions, along with a host of sauces, are on the house. 12 Princes Highway, Sylvania; (02) 9522 5632.
Milk Bar, Melbourne; Andrew’s
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Craving a classic burger with the lot? Head directly to this Albert Park institution, which has been churning out burger brilliance since 1939. Grab a dim sim or potato cake chaser, too. 144 Bridport Street, Albert Park; (03) 9690 2126 or 155 Franklin Street, Melbourne; (03) 9328 2825.
Milk Bar, Sydney; Superior Burger
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They’re from the burger old school at Superior Burger. Case in point: the straight-up hamburger with grass-fed beef, beetroot, caramelised onion, tomato, lettuce and smoky barbecue sauce. Shop 5, 30 Bulls Road, Wakeley.
Fried Chicken, Sydney; Butter
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It’s a purist’s chicken burger at Butter, the multitasking Surry Hills joint joining sneakers and fried chicken. Served in a sweetly soft roll, the burger features a super-crisp fillet, a lick of dashi butter and some pickle action. Just add hot sauce, in three gradients of heat. 6 Hunt Street, Surry Hills; (02) 8283 9146.
Fried chicken, Melbourne; Le Bon Ton
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Collingwood saloon masters Le Bon Ton do a mean line in brisket but their fried chicken is also a fine tribute to the USA. Get down with the pure enjoyment of their fried buffalo chicken sandwich, the crunchy bird slathered with blue cheese aïoli and cayenne pepper hot sauce. 51 Gipps Street, Collingwood; (03) 9416 4341.
Naked burgers, Melbourne; Burger Project
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Neil Perry’s Burger Project likes to keep everyone happy, even the gluten-free and paleo crowds, hence the policy of serving any burger on the menu as a deconstructed burger bowl. Bless ‘em! Level 2, St Collins Lane Centre, 260 Collins Street, Melbourne, Chadstone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Road, Malvern East or Melbourne Central, corner Elizabeth and Latrobe streets, Melbourne.
Naked burgers, Sydney; Cheekyburger
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You can rely on a place called Cheekyburger to serve up a burger sans clothes. The bun is jettisoned for a pared-back burger of beef patty, grilled cheese, onions, pesto and lettuce. 312 Oxford Street, Paddington; (02) 9331 7436.
Posh, Sydney; Rockpool Bar & Grill
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The very concept of the posh burger was born in Rockpool’s bar. Neil Perry’s Wagyu burger continues to reign supreme thanks to its ineluctable combination of David Blackmore’s full-blood Wagyu along with bacon, gruyere and a zucchini pickle. 66 Hunter Street, Sydney; (02) 8078 1900.
Posh, Melbourne; Rockwell and Sons
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The double patty smash isn’t posh in the eating – it’s a chest-beating stack of beef, Kraft cheese, sauce and a seeded brioche bun – but it’s the lengths chef Casey Wall goes to for the right housemade mince (a mix of grass-fed brisket, chuck and more) and special mayo that raise this baby above the pack. 288 Smith Street, Collingwood; (03) 8415 0700.
Fish, Melbourne; Thaiger
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A Thai burger joint? We say yes and double yes to Thaiger’s seafood burger, with crunchy battered prawns and a sweet-but-not-too-sweet chilli mayo. Shop 16, The Walk Arcade, 8 Causeway Lane, Melbourne; (03) 9663 5885.
Fish, Sydney; Riley St Garage
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Hit the pit stop menu for a fish burger of simple distinction: crumbed fish, crunchy iceberg lettuce, pickles and gribiche mayo, served with fries. 55 Riley Street, Woolloomooloo; (02) 9326 9055.
Surprise, Melbourne; Tuck Shop Takeaway
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Everyone knows Tuck Shop does a mean burger but not everyone knows about the off-menu Bully Burger, created by ex-Fat Duck chef Clinton Serex to exhibit the slow-building heat of jalapeños and sriracha in a milk brioche bun. Word to the wise: you have to order it by name, or no burger for you. 273 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield North; 0431 406 580.
Surprise, Sydney; Bar Luca
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Blame Canada. Bar Luca does, in the trailer-trash spirit of South Park, with a fat beef patty joined by maple-glazed streaky bacon, American cheese, maple aioli and – yes – poutine, the union of chips, curds and gravy beloved by Justin Trudeau and his country folk. 52 Phillip Street, Sydney; (02) 9247 9700.
Sliders, Sydney; The Butler
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Those of petite appetites should head to Potts Point for a zesty little Ibero-American slider packed with buttermilk fried chicken, ranch slaw, peanut salsa macha and pickled jalapeño. It’s small but perfectly formed. 123 Victoria Street, Potts Point; (02) 8354 0742.
Sliders, Melbourne; Lui Bar
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The bar offshoot of fine dining high-flyer Vue de Monde has more going for it than great cocktails and amazing views. Settle in with a brisket slider, made with David Blackmore Wagyu and served as nature intended – with coleslaw and barbecue sauce. Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne; (03) 9691 3888.
Pulled pork, Melbourne; Chuckle Park
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We’ll forgive outdoor laneway haunt Chuckle Park for calling it their “famous” pulled pork roll because, well, it kind of is. It’s a killer combo of juicy pork, a sprightly apple, walnut and fennel slaw, a slab of melty yellow cheese and savoury/spicy Chuckle sauce. 322 Little Collins Street, Melbourne; (03) 9650 4494.
Pulled pork, Sydney; The Sandwich Shop
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The original pulled pork burger is the star of the show at this Surry Hills stalwart – seasoned porker cooked low and slow, served with slaw and homemade barbecue sauce on a toasted olive oil organic roll. 44 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9211 8710.
Vegetarian, Melbourne; The Alley
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At this all-vegan venue, the pun-tastic Mi_so Hungry burger will cure whatever ails you without having to resort to mock meat. A fried, crumbed eggplant steak stands in situ for meat and the umeboshi slaw, salad and tomato miso ketchup sandwiched in brioche make a compelling case for going vego. 417 St Kilda Road, Melbourne; (03) 9820 8314.
Vegetarian, Sydney; The East Sydney Hotel
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The pulled jackfruit burger at The East Sydney Hotel proves the imitation game can pay dividends. Fully vegan, the burger stars seasoned barbecue jackfruit (yes, it could almost pass as pulled pork) with a support cast of eggless aïoli, a toasty dairy-free bun, coleslaw and hot sauce. Corner Crown and Cathedral streets, Woolloomooloo; (02) 9358 1975.
Wagyu, Melbourne; Rude Boy Burger
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The Big Popper takes your average Wagyu burger and amps it up courtesy of jalapeño poppers, chimichurri, pickles, salad and grilled cheese. 482 Albion Street, Brunswick West; (03) 9386 4302.
Wagyu, Sydney; Bill’s
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Is there anything Bill Granger didn’t introduce us to? First came the ricotta hotcakes, then came the Wagyu burger, a fancy thing indeed with Swiss cheese, pickled green chilli, herby mayo and rocket. Add fries on the side, of course. 79 Hall Street, Bondi Beach; (02) 8412 0700, 433 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst; (02) 9360 9631 or 359 Crown Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9360 4762.
Up Next: These Are The World’s 20 Best Restaurants
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Get on the phone and start booking: tables at these spots aren’t going to last long. The best 20 restaurants in the world, as voted by the chefs, food writers and gourmands who make up the global judging panel of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, are in hot demand.