Before you start telling me what’s the best burger in Melbourne – let me put this straight. I’m not here to debate the BEST burger, I’m merely here to share some of the burgers I have tried. You may have heard of them, you may have not, and there’s plenty more on my to-go-list so please leave your suggestions!
Strange Wolf: Strachan Lane, Melbourne CBD
Introduced to this typically-hidden-in-a-dodgy-alleyway joint by my lovely film festival committee, Strange Wolf is located underground just off Collins St. Or should I say was – I think they’re closed now, as I heard they would be closing towards the end of the year and their Facebook and website has disappeared.
Alas, let me reminisce of the burger that was. It was called The Underbelly ($15, above), with free range pork belly, smoked cheese, pickle, apple slaw and BBQ sauce. Unfortunately, from this view you can’t tell the burger’s true size. I found it larger than your average burger, or than burgers from more casual takeaway places such as Huxtaburger, and thus quite filling. The apple slaw goes well with the large pork belly slices and made it stand out from your everyday beef burger. It felt like a fulfilling burger and it wasn’t too messy except for the bits of apple slaw that fall out.
Furthermore, they have large herby hand-cut chips, which is how I like my chips – nice and thick. I would usually prefer a larger serving than the small cone that comes with it – but the burger really filled me up! If this place hasn’t closed, please correct me, but the signs don’t look good.
Huxtaburger: Fulham Place off Flinders Lane
To be honest – I don’t have that much to say about Huxtaburger. It seems to be a highly rated burger shop amongst Melburnians, indicated by the excitement of CBD dwellers when they opened up Huxtaburger II (the original is in Collingwood).
Like most burger places, it has a bit of an American diner atmosphere to its decor. This place has more of a take-away feel, rather than dine-in, unless you’re after a quick munch on your work break or with one or two friends. Their menu is very basic, with their staple burgers and their beer/soft drink menus on either side.
As I wasn’t too hungry, I went for the classic Huxtaburger ($8.5) with beef patty, mustard, mayo, tomato sauce, tomato, cheese, lettuce and pickles. To me, this sounds like a typical burger. It was good – but what was so special about it? I’m still not sure. I also tried their chipotle fries ($2.50-$3?), which gives the chips a kind of smoked, Mexican chilli flavour. I probably enjoyed this more than the burger – although as I have mentioned, I’m pretty weak so it was a bit chilli for me towards the end.
Hammer & Tong: 412 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
On a bit of a different note, Hammer and Tong are more of a brunch place. One of their specialties is their soft shell crab burger ($16) and my table had 3 out of 4 people order the dish.
My friend enjoyed the mayonnaise/cheesy sauce, as it complimented and added to the texture of the crab, and seemed to provide the main flavour of the dish. I enjoyed a bite too – but I guess the downside is the price vs the serving size. Hardly enough to fill you up unless you’re after a light meal.
Misty’s Diner: 765 Gilbert Rd, Reservoir
This year, Misty’s Diner opened its second branch in the northern suburb of Reservoir. We’ve discovered this place is basically where you go if you want to have a heart attack on a plate…so it’s best not to go too often. Misty’s goes all out with it’s American theme, from its Marilyn Monroe newspaper art, to the American accented cashier at the counter.
The attraction of Misty’s is its extra goodies from thickshakes, deep fried desserts or American snacks such as Twinkies at the counter. Having enjoyed a white chocolate cookies and cream thickshake last time, I couldn’t resist trying a mixed berries and white chocolate shake this time! I think I still prefer the cookies and cream one (they’re a bit expensive though, can’t remember the price but probably $6 or $8+).
Another extra, is that they have various fries with topping. Delicious, but fills you with so much guilt after the meal. I ordered the Western & Bacon burger ($14.90, above), mushrooms, BBQ sauce, onion rings, bacon, mayo and Swiss cheese, with a side of wet fries (fries topped with meat gravy).
In complete American style, these meals are oversized but delicious, fatty but mouthwatering. The menu with its sauces and abundance of ingredients really attempt to pack lots of meat and flavours into your meal. Not for the light-hearted!
Beatbox Kitchen: various locations
Lucky last, and lucky for me, Beatbox Kitchen often stops by the front of my work building. Eager to try, I left my lunch at work in order to try burgers from this cutely designed truck. There were only two options, the Raph Burger ($11, beef) and the Shroom Burger ($10, portobello mushroom).
Never content to leave it at that, we asked if we could add a beef patty to the shroom burger. Of course, it was possible, but for a price of $15. This meant my burger had a whole marinated portobello mushroom, beef, lettuce, gouda cheese, tomato, onion and stereo sauce (tangy mayo).
Out of all the burgers, I enjoyed this one the most. It seemed to have just the right amount of everything, including sauce. That means you still get to a messy stage, with sauce dripping out, after you get about halfway. It was so good, I didn’t even need to take my tomato out (I don’t like tomato) as the other ingredients and sauce still made it taste rich and flavoursome.
The excellent flavour might have something to do with the stereo sauce, but the beef patty was juicy and tasty too. We also ordered chips with stereo sauce (at that time, I still wasn’t sure what stereo sauce was but it sounded interesting), but didn’t realise the serving was so big. The burgers were incredibly filling with the extra beef, and the chips were too similar to McDonald’s fries for me to enjoy so I didn’t finish them.
To add to an already very long post, I couldn’t help but try Beatbox Kitchen again whilst pondering what I should have for lunch the other day. Spying the truck across the road, I thought this could only be a sign! I thought I would try the Raph Burger and see how it stands on its own. This included the 170gm grass-fed beef patty (medium-rare), cos lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion and stereo sauce.
So the difference from last time was no gouda cheese or mushroom. As I was looking for something less filling, I still enjoyed the burger immensely and can deduct that the actual beef patty is cooked just right. Without the gouda cheese, it’s evidently less saucy/cheesy but the stereo sauce was still great and tangy. It also meant that this time, I could notice the buttery bun a lot more and the bun’s texture was slightly crisp and crunchy today. Goes to show what different experiences you can have with the same place!
In addition to these places, I have been to Andrew’s Hamburgers in Albert Park and The Bottle of Milk in Lorne, but due to my lack of photos and memory, I can’t comment too accurately. I do however remember I wasn’t completely amazed by Andrew’s Hamburgers after all the hype, and that I enjoyed a good messy burger from The Bottle of Milk by the nearby beach! Perhaps it’s better to try it yourself rather than trusting my bad recollections.
I am still eager to try Ribs and Burgers, Top Paddock’s soft shell crab burger and anything else you guys recommend. Let me know what burgers you liked or where I should go in the comment section below!