Flippin' Good Burgers
Ditch the pre-fab patty, ketchup, and Kraft cheese in favor of lobster, grilled asparagus, and tomato béarnaise sauce next time you’re in the mood for a hamburger. The humble patty, be it beef or bison, can go from mouthwatering to mind-blowing with the addition of a few standard, or not-so-standard, toppings. When you’re craving an anything-but-ho-hum burger, try one of these crazy-good spots in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.
40 N. Main Street, Kamas | 435-783-4466 | (no website)
It may be hard to believe that a restaurant known fondly as “the drug store” sells some of the best burgers in the Beehive State, but doubt not. Hi-Mountain in Kamas, Utah, is a mecca for foodies who love its burgers, fries, shakes and ice cream, served with a side of nostalgia. People from across the state, country and world flock to Hi-Mountain for mouthwatering burgers, hand-formed daily from a special grind, says Gaye Pace, whose family has owned Hi-Mountain for 48 years. “If you want to go somewhere that is kind of a step back in time and where the food is good then come over here,” Pace says.
Visitors rave about the Gonbuger, named after Pace’s son Jon and his cousin Grady, who invented the massive burger when they were hungry teens. It comes topped with cheddar cheese, thick bacon, onion rings, smoky barbecue sauce and fry sauce. Try the hand-cut fries while you’re there, and order an over-the-top milkshake.
Burgers aren’t the exclusive offering at Yardhouse in Boise, Idaho, but the California-based chain restaurant knows how to treat a burger right. The menu has nine burgers with toppings a step above the average beef-and-cheese combos. There is a Pastrami Benedict with fried onions, Swiss cheese, béarnaise sauce and egg. A Black Truffle Cheeseburger with truffle cheese and tomato-bacon-onion jam. And a Surf and Turf Burger with lobster, grilled asparagus, arugula, Swiss cheese and tomato béarnaise sauce.
One buzzword in online reviews for MacPhail’s Burgers in Jackson, Wyoming, is “fresh.” The five-year-old burger joint in Jackson uses fresh ground and grass-fed certified Angus beef, fresh baked burger buns, fresh cut fries, and sliced-that-day cheese, onions, pickles, tomatoes, and lettuce. “It’s a lot of effort and it’s very intense but it’s worth it,” says Bruce Bollinger, co-owner with his wife, Dawn. Reviewers seem to agree. MacPhail’s is rated No. 1 on Yelp and No. 2 on TripAdvisor out of 133 restaurants in Jackson. In 2015, it ranked as one of the Top 10 burger joints in the U.S. on TripAdvisor.com.
The favorite burger among most diners is the Classic Cheese — a half-pound certified Angus beef patty with aged white cheddar, tomato, lettuce and red onion, served with fresh cut fries with dipping sauce and a half deli pickle. “Unlike most restaurants we actually encourage splitting because our portions are so generous,” Bollinger says. That leaves room for splitting a milkshake, too.
Part of the fun of eating at Liberty Burger in Jackson is reading through the cheeky menu descriptions for the restaurant’s inventive burgers. There’s the Jackie O, “an instant classic — always stylish — and (a) lamb patty dressed to the nines with Greek accessories.” Or the Nooner — “no need to change out of your sweatpants for me” — that combines breakfast and burgers by stacking bacon, ham, hash browns and a fried egg on a meat patty. The Texas-based restaurant was chosen as one of the Top 5 burgers in town by Travel + Leisure magazine. The restaurant is proud of its “freedom beyond the bun,” and burgers can be ordered green and leafy or stacked and cheesy. (Don’t miss ordering one of their amazing milkshakes featured in our July/August 2016 issue.)
Salt City Burger Co.
There are many burgers on the menu at Salt City Burger Co. in Sandy, Utah, but according to owners only one is a Salt City original and that’s the Smokehouse Bacon Burger. The signature burger is made from freshly ground 100 percent USDA Choice beef, hand-formed and mixed with ground premium Smokehouse bacon, then cooked on the restaurant’s proprietary grill. Try it with bleu cheese to kick it up a notch. Diners love Salt City’s condiment bar, where you can load your burger with sauerkraut, salsa, peppers, ranch dressing, Heinz 57, Grey Poupon and more for a truly custom burger.
If you’re big on burgers — or, rather, big on big burgers, Big Jud’s in Idaho should be on your radar. Known for its “man-size” burgers, the restaurant features 1- and 2-pound burgers — not surprisingly dubbed the Big Jud and the Double Big Jud. There’s also the gigantic Man Versus Food Burger, a mammoth creation that layers two, 1-pound patties with bacon, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and bleu cheese plus mayo, lettuce and tomato. All that and a basket of fries will set you back $38.
The Man Versus Food Burger was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and isn’t for the faint of heart — or those with high cholesterol. The Idaho chain has a menu of smaller burgers for those less prone to gastronomic feats. If you really want to go all out, take the Big Jud Challenge, wherein you consume copious amounts of food in 30 minutes for bragging rights and a mug shot on the Wall of Fame.
Photos by Kevin Kiernan