My brother Teddy loves hamburgers. Well, actually? He loves cheeseburgers. At every restaurant, everywhere, that’s his order.
That’s partly because Teddy, who was born with Down Syndrome, doesn’t like change. But it’s more so because he knows what he’s into—why order anything else?
Growing up in Wayzata, we frequented restaurants from Sunsets and Blue Point (both long gone), to COV and McCormick’s. By now, at the age of 29, Teddy’s an expert on the burger options at each. Which is why we recently set out to taste and compare ’em all in hopes of finding the best.
Some places only offered one; when an establishment had several burgers on the menu, we opted for the signature (that is, the one named after the restaurant or the one most highly recommended). These are our seven favorites.
The Cheeseburger at Wayzata Bar and Grill ($10)
With nine burgers to choose from at the Muni, we asked our waitress which proved most popular. She said, without hesitating: the Cheeseburger. You can’t go wrong with something ultra-classic, and that’s exactly what we got: straightforward, no frills cheese and meat. It’s a burger that tastes like it’s just come off your grill, boasting all the burger-y goodness sauces and accoutrements can mask. Lettuce, tomato, and onion were served alongside, but neither of us felt compelled to add anything at all—this one is meant for those who want to really taste the meat. Accompanying fries were substantial and not overly salty, and Teddy, as a basic-burger lover, thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity of the entire thing. 925 Lake St. E.; 612-356-5330, wayzatabarandgrill.com
The Dirty French Burger at Bellecour ($15 on the bar menu, $18 at brunch)
You can smell the flavors of Bellecour’s burger as soon as it’s set before you. Messy fingers and faces are unavoidable due to the black truffle sauce, raclette cheese, and tender beef—luckily, in a move generally reserved for a platter of saucy wings, it was served with a side plate of wet towels. The burger can spill out from the bun, but eating with fingers or forks doesn’t diminish the experience. Even with truffle, it centers on fundamentals: the quality of the dry-aged meat and uniqueness of the melty, gooey raclette. It boasts the fancy flavors of France without stealing thunder from what makes a burger a burger. It comes with super skinny, ultra-crispy pommes frites and two dipping sauces: the traditional ketchup and crème fraiche. The whole thing is very French and very good. 739 Lake St. E.; 952-444-5200, bellecourrestaurant.com
The Brick Burger at ninetwentyfive ($18)
This burger comes with a lot of add-ons: onion marmalade, bacon, lettuce, cheese, and lemon herb aioli. While some of it contributed to the overall taste (I particularly enjoyed the onion; Teddy, the bacon), it does feel a little bit like a case of quantity over quality. The lettuce was a tad soggy from the aioli, and it was the cheese that provided the most flavor—though fans of classic American cheese won’t be disappointed. Teddy, who’d opt for a plain cheeseburger any day of the week, enjoyed the lack of fancy seasoning, though not as much as the classic he’d ordered at the Muni. The fries are on the thicker side, and only lightly salted. 925 Lake St. E; 612-356-5330, ninetwentyfive.com
The COV Burger at COV ($19)
Rather than slotting the garnish on the side, here at COV it’s all piled directly onto the burger. Shaved lettuce, pickles, and American cheese are automatics (much to the dismay of my brother, who isn’t a pickle person). The creamy dijonnaise, mixed with well-melted cheese, makes for a messy meal but packs a ton of flavor—definitely no need for ketchup. Even Teddy, who easily goes through two or three dishes of said condiment per burger, used it sparingly: a huge compliment. Accompanying fries were, he says, “too salty” (a phrase that doesn’t exist in my vocabulary), and served with a sprinkling of green herbs, which we both could have done without. Overall, it’s a heck of a tasty lunch, particularly for those who enjoy a nontraditional condiment. 700 E. Lake St.; 952-473-5253, covwayzata.com
The Steak Burger at Gianni’s Steakhouse ($18)
Boasting the biggest patty of any Wayzata burger, this baby comes open-faced, and once assembled to your liking, it stands quite tall, making it a tad difficult to fit into your mouth. Any ketchup you add is likely to spill out in an attempt to squeeze it down into a more manageable size. The meat is clearly high-quality, and as its name suggests, this one tastes more like a slab of steak than a burg. Teddy loved its simplistic flavor; I was left feeling it lacked something. Add bacon, avocado, or even a fried egg to give it a little something extra. The fries are simple, without additional seasoning. 635 Lake St. E., 952-404-1100, giannis-steakhouse.com
Fat Burger at 6Smith Restaurant ($18.95)
With a bunch to choose from, we ultimately opted for 6Smith’s Fat Burger, one of two that appear on both the lunch and dinner menus. This one’s a mammoth, and between liquid cheese, additional sauce, and an unfortunately thin bottom bun, you can expect a mess—albeit a delicious one. (Teddy actually finished his with a fork.) Considering our opposite responses to a few burgers, the fact that we agreed this was a top contender speaks to its widespread appeal. Foodies will appreciate its cheddar fondue and bacon jam; traditionalists can enjoy the quality of the patties, which practically melt in your mouth. It doesn’t, however, taste as expensive as it is. At $18.95, it’s among the costliest of a costly bunch (save the Venison and Kobe “Juicy Lucy,” which 6Smith offers for $20.95). The meal comes with fries I can only describe as rather... potato-y? You’ll need a condiment to add flavor—luckily, they come with a dish of delectable garlic aioli. 294 E. Grove Lane; 952-698-7900, 6smith.com
The McCormick Burger at McCormick’s Pub & Restaurant ($14)
Braised in Guinness, the McCormick Burger tastes, and even looks, more like a short rib sammy than a traditional burger. The quality is exceptional, and its stout-essenced flavor is clearly the focus. While Teddy enjoyed the white cheddar cheese, and I the pancetta, ketchup was a must for both of us. The fries on the side were thin, crispy, and perfectly salted: a great bonus. While the dinner menu boasts three burger options, the McCormick is the only one that’s also offered during lunch. If you’re looking for a sandwich that’s meaty, in flavor and in proportions, this is the one for you. 331 Broadway Ave. S.; 952-767-2417, mccormicks.pub