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Monday, February 26, 2024

Burgers Well Done

Every city claims to have the best burgers. These days, burger lists and rankings rule. (We know, because we see city magazine covers!) Evansville has loved its burgers for decades. After all, we remember burgers from The Tennessean and The Farmer’s Daughter. Choosing our 10 favorite burgers put us in a bit of a pickle, but we mustard the strength to find the best of the best. 

Fred’s Bar & Grill Double Cheeseburger

421 Read St.  •  www.fredsbar.us

Work the crossword, check your phone, or just sit and stare at the TV — Fred’s Bar is fine with it all. What’s not just fine at Fred’s Bar & Grill is the double cheeseburger. It’s delicious, in fact. But don’t expect frills. You want lettuce and tomato? Then you’ll have to ask for it. And when the barkeep gives you your burgers wrapped in wax paper and a paper bag, she’ll tell you you’ll have to add the ketchup and mustard yourself. Still, if you want a moist burger with chopped onions and enough cheese to make you wonder why you ever stopped eating bar food in the first place, then think of Fred’s — because that’s where you’ll get a burger and a smile.

G.D. Ritzy’s Double Ritz

4810 University Drive, 4321 N. First Ave., 601 N. Green River Road  •  www.ritzys.com

With locations on the West, North, and East Sides of Evansville, G.D. Ritzy’s is a convenient lunch, dinner, or snack spot for many people throughout the city. Modeled after the family-friendly diners of the 1940s and ’50s, Ritzy’s is complete with faux vintage decorating, employees in paper hats, and a delicious menu filled with fast food favorites. Along with its chili cheese dogs and original PB & Js, the Double Ritz burger is a top choice among customers. Two thin, perfectly-grilled patties topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles make this burger hard to resist. Add crispy shoestring fries and a scoop of homemade ice cream for a tasty, classic American meal.

Sportsman’s Grille & Billiards Breakfast Burger

2315 W. Franklin St.  •  Find Sportsman’s Evansville on Facebook

A staple of the West Side, Sportsman’s Grille & Billiards is the place to go for a full bar experience. Equipped with plenty of space, a sturdy wooden bar, neon signs, several pool tables, and a friendly staff, it’s no surprise many patrons make this a go-to destination for a boys’ night out or a casual date night. The food is as warm and inviting as the bar itself, though Sportsman’s has something your average bar doesn’t: the Breakfast Burger. A bold combination of meals, the Breakfast Burger is a delicious, well-seasoned burger with lots of cheese, bacon, grilled onions, and to top it all off, a fried egg. The egg may seem like an odd addition, but it gives the burger extra texture — and protein — making it that much more tasty and intriguing.

Zesto Drive-In Big Hug

920 E. Riverside Drive, 102 W. Franklin St.  •  Find Zesto on Facebook

The best thing about Zesto’s “Big Hug” burger is that there’s nothing small about it. So come hungry, and grab all the napkins you can. This cheeseburger with one very crisp onion ring drips with mayo, and they don’t skip on the lettuce and tomato, either. We went at dinner time when the line was minimal; one woman even held open the door. The staff? All smiles. If you’re hungry — and who isn’t? — then make a late-night stop at Zesto’s. Your hunger ends here.

Rí Rá Irish Pub Lamasco burger

701-B N.W. Riverside Drive  •  www.rira.com/evansville

Built from the salvaged and restored interiors of an authentic Irish pub, Rí Rá brings some good “craic” (which means “fun” in Ireland) to Downtown Evansville. A two-level building, the first floor is a traditional, cozy pub, complete with floor to ceiling wood detail, a fully stocked bar, and low lights, while the second floor provides room to dance and an outdoor patio with wonderful river views. Though there are several great burgers to choose from, we endorse the Lamasco — a mix of fresh ground beef and pork with melted Swiss cheese, roasted sprouts, bacon, and garlic mayo, all on a pretzel bun. It’s a burger as tasty as it is unique. Just don’t be afraid of the mess. You might want a fork for this pub treat.

Five Guys Burger and Fries Double Cheeseburger

5402 E. Indiana St.  •  www.fiveguys.com

When you walk into Five Guys Burgers and Fries on the East Side, you can’t help being impressed by the many awards lining its walls. A chain restaurant praised across the nation, Five Guys is fast and convenient enough for a quick lunch, but nice and spacious enough for a casual family dinner. As for the burgers, there’s a reason Evansville Living readers voted it “Best Burger,” January/February 2013. Five Guys offers towering, weighty double cheeseburgers with as many free toppings as you want. Mayo, grilled mushrooms, steak sauce, barbecue sauce, and hot sauce are just a few of the options. Two juicy patties covered with cheese and all the toppings you could ask for — it’s a burger lover’s dream.

Burger Bank Mini Burgers

1617 S. Weinbach Ave.  •  Find the Burger Bank on Facebook

Though the red, yellow, and white building that it occupies may vaguely bring to mind McDonald’s, Burger Bank is anything but a big corporation. In fact, everything about Burger Bank is quite small — including the burgers. The little local drive-through has been a staple of the Southeast Side for some time, famous for its quick, friendly service and 90-cent mini burgers. These tiny delights consist of fluffy buns, thin patties, pickles, and lots and lots of chopped-up onions. They’re very tasty, but you may want a breath mint when you’re done.

Peephole Bar & Grill Classic Cheeseburger

201 Main St.  •  Find the Peephole Bar & Grill on Facebook

The Peephole is so easy to get to (it’s on the corner of Second and Main streets) that you could just run in, grab a burger, and leave. But why would you? With its darkened corners and laid-back feel, this is the perfect place to glop ketchup on your fingers. You’ll get that chance with a juicy cheeseburger stacked to the brim with tomatoes, lettuce, and thick slices of white onions made right then.

Wilson’s General Store & Café BBQ Burger

11120 Broadway Ave.  •  www.wilsonsribs.com

It may be a little far out for those not situated on the West Side, but for a taste of anything on the menu at Wilson’s General Store & Café, the drive is well worth the reward. Covered with old-fashioned signs, posters, photographs, and even a gold-suited Elvis cutout, Wilson’s is a pleasantly nostalgic trip back in time. With the solid philosophy of “great food every meal,” the restaurant aims to please with each bite — and if you sink your teeth into Wilson’s BBQ Burger, you will definitely be pleased. A half-pound burger topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, smoked pork, and Wilson’s special BBQ sauce, it’s a treat for burger and barbecue lovers alike. The BBQ sauce undoubtedly steals the show, but the combination of flavors and textures makes this an irresistible mealtime choice.

The Pub Ultimate Burger

1348 E. Division St.  •  Find The Pub-Evansville on Facebook

With its dark green carpet and sturdy wooden tables, The Pub, a one-time hot spot for local politicos, hasn’t lost its ability to grill a delicious burger. The Ultimate is stuffed with green bell peppers, onions, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella. We ordered ours fully dressed and medium well, sitting near a poster advising us never to play leapfrog with a unicorn. The Pub has other tips, too. Ours? The Ultimate won’t disappoint.

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