Great Burger Joints in the Middle of Nowhere

Hamburger expert and photographer George Motz gives us 5 great choices for a day trip into the middle of nowhere for a great burger.

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"In a category by itself, the frita or Cuban hamburger, is only available on and around 8th St. in Miami, FL. If you are in search of unique hamburger experiences, this one should top your list. The frita was part of the Cuban Revolution exodus of the 1950s and one of the best examples today can be found at El Mago de las Fritas. El Mago is Spanish for "the magician." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"The frita starts with a patty loaded with spices and sometimes ground chorizo. After flattened on the griddle with chopped onion, the patty is doused with a thin red sauce. The burger bubbles in the sauce and is transferred to a toasted bun where a nest of thin-cut-fried potatoes are placed on top. Ketchup is added and cheese is offered but as my good friend Burger Beast told me once, 'Cheese is not traditional.' Thanks to the Beast, I never get cheese on my frita." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"Guy's is a fully-functioning meat market on the south side of Houston. People have been coming here for steaks and sausages since 1939 but when Brad Dickens added a burger to the menu 25 years ago Guy's became a burger destination. The burgers are sold starting at 11 AM but Guy's limits their output to 200 a day. If you are late, you'll surely miss out." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"What's unique about the burgers at Guy's is that they are smoked -- think slow-cooked ribs and brisket. One would think that smoking a burger would lead to disastrous results but Guy's has it down. Texas food critic and friend Robb Walsh convinced me that the best way to enjoy this burger is with pickles, chopped onions and a healthy dose of Guy's housemade barbeque sauce (not as pictured). Take the advice and take a trip to burger heaven." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"This tiny shack in the center of Prairie du Chien, WI, has been serving burgers to a faithful local crowd for almost 100 years and their signature burger is anything but a standard patty. Only open for the warmer months of the year, Pete's burgers are steamed in a big tank filled with onions and water." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"Local burger expert Todd Mcllwee said it best when he described the burgers at Pete's as 'poached.' To a large shallow-lipped griddle filled with boiling water, the cook adds wads of fresh ground beef. The wads are pressed into patties and cooked until done, bubbling and bobbing in the tank. In the center of the griddle is an enormous pile of thinly sliced onion steamed to perfection. I know it sounds gross, but Pete's burgers are pure heaven and I want one now." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"New Jersey has no shortage of great slider emporiums (the original American burger popularized by White Castle in the 1920s). For a true step back in time you must visit a place like the White Rose System in Linden, NJ, where owner Rich Belfer definitely knows how to keep a burger tradition alive." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"It may not look like much but the hamburgers from the first half of the 20th century looked like this, not bloated, dripping with 4 types of cheese and jalapenos, etc. To me this is the true essence of the American hamburger -- simple, uncomplicated, tasty and enduring." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"From the outside you'd never know that a world-class burger experience awaits. With its vintage signage and glass block facade, Workingman's Friend looks the part of a spartan comfortable neighborhood hang that also happens to serve one of the tastiest burgers in America." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"It looks absurd but the double cheeseburger at Workingman's Friend is amazing. Fresh ground beef is pressed so thin on the flattop griddle that the result is a burger that has an almost lacy, crunchy outer perimeter. Chase this beauty with their signature 32-oz. Frosty Fish Bowl of tap beer and plan on napping afterwards." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

New Burger Finds  10 Photos

Photos

10 Photos

"In a category by itself, the frita or Cuban hamburger, is only available on and around 8th St. in Miami, FL. If you are in search of unique hamburger experiences, this one should top your list. The frita was part of the Cuban Revolution exodus of the 1950s and one of the best examples today can be found at El Mago de las Fritas. El Mago is Spanish for "the magician." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"The frita starts with a patty loaded with spices and sometimes ground chorizo. After flattened on the griddle with chopped onion, the patty is doused with a thin red sauce. The burger bubbles in the sauce and is transferred to a toasted bun where a nest of thin-cut-fried potatoes are placed on top. Ketchup is added and cheese is offered but as my good friend Burger Beast told me once, 'Cheese is not traditional.' Thanks to the Beast, I never get cheese on my frita." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"Guy's is a fully-functioning meat market on the south side of Houston. People have been coming here for steaks and sausages since 1939 but when Brad Dickens added a burger to the menu 25 years ago Guy's became a burger destination. The burgers are sold starting at 11 AM but Guy's limits their output to 200 a day. If you are late, you'll surely miss out." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"What's unique about the burgers at Guy's is that they are smoked -- think slow-cooked ribs and brisket. One would think that smoking a burger would lead to disastrous results but Guy's has it down. Texas food critic and friend Robb Walsh convinced me that the best way to enjoy this burger is with pickles, chopped onions and a healthy dose of Guy's housemade barbeque sauce (not as pictured). Take the advice and take a trip to burger heaven." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"This tiny shack in the center of Prairie du Chien, WI, has been serving burgers to a faithful local crowd for almost 100 years and their signature burger is anything but a standard patty. Only open for the warmer months of the year, Pete's burgers are steamed in a big tank filled with onions and water." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"Local burger expert Todd Mcllwee said it best when he described the burgers at Pete's as 'poached.' To a large shallow-lipped griddle filled with boiling water, the cook adds wads of fresh ground beef. The wads are pressed into patties and cooked until done, bubbling and bobbing in the tank. In the center of the griddle is an enormous pile of thinly sliced onion steamed to perfection. I know it sounds gross, but Pete's burgers are pure heaven and I want one now." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"New Jersey has no shortage of great slider emporiums (the original American burger popularized by White Castle in the 1920s). For a true step back in time you must visit a place like the White Rose System in Linden, NJ, where owner Rich Belfer definitely knows how to keep a burger tradition alive." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"It may not look like much but the hamburgers from the first half of the 20th century looked like this, not bloated, dripping with 4 types of cheese and jalapenos, etc. To me this is the true essence of the American hamburger -- simple, uncomplicated, tasty and enduring." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"From the outside you'd never know that a world-class burger experience awaits. With its vintage signage and glass block facade, Workingman's Friend looks the part of a spartan comfortable neighborhood hang that also happens to serve one of the tastiest burgers in America." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

"It looks absurd but the double cheeseburger at Workingman's Friend is amazing. Fresh ground beef is pressed so thin on the flattop griddle that the result is a burger that has an almost lacy, crunchy outer perimeter. Chase this beauty with their signature 32-oz. Frosty Fish Bowl of tap beer and plan on napping afterwards." - George Motz 960 1280

George Motz  

Ramon Puig Guayaberas

Ramon Puig Guayaberas

Between burgers, George makes a stop at Ramon Puig Guayaberas for a lesson in Latin style. Brought to the US by Ramon Puig in the 1970s, the Guayabera shirt is traditional Latin formal wear. 960 1280

  

El Mago de las Fritas

El Mago de las Fritas

George eats a Cuban frita at El Mago de las Fritas in Little Havana. 960 1280

  

El Mago de las Fritas

El Mago de las Fritas

El Mago de las Fritas in West Miami has their own unique and tasty take on the frita. 960 1280

  

El Mago de las Fritas

El Mago de las Fritas

George with the magician himself, Ortelio Cardenas, owner of El Mago de las Fritas. 960 1280

  

El Rey de las Fritas

El Rey de las Fritas

The frita at El Rey de las Fritas. Opened in the 1960s, this restaurant is where the first Cuban frita in Miami can be found. 960 1280

  

El Rey de las Fritas

El Rey de las Fritas

George discusses his beverage options with Mercedes, owner of El Rey de las Fritas. 960 1280

  

Pincho Factory

Pincho Factory

The food prep area at Pincho Factory where George tries the Nicaraguan-inspired Toston Burger, a sumptuous blend of beef framed not by a bun, but by 2 large fried plantains, or tostones. 960 1280

  

Pincho Factory

Pincho Factory

Pincho Factory in Miami follows their burgers with a sweet-and-salty dessert – chocolate-covered fries. 960 1280

  

George visits Bayfront Park

George visits Bayfront Park

George visits Bayfront Park, where he finds the Latin Burger and Taco food truck. 960 1280

  

George meets Jim Heins

George meets Jim Heins

George meets Jim Heins, owner of the Latin Burger truck, which is reminiscent of Cuban street vendors, called friteros. 960 1280

  

Latin Macho

Latin Macho

This burger beauty can be found at the Latin Burger truck and is called the Latin Macho -- 2 ground beef and chorizo patties, topped with cheese, onions and caramelized jalapeños. 960 1280

  

George Motz in Connecticut

George Motz in Connecticut

Burger Land's George Motz sees the sights in Connecticut, starting with Yale University in New Haven. 960 1280

  

Louis' Lunch in New Haven

Louis' Lunch in New Haven

George’s first stop is Louis' Lunch in New Haven – the oldest hamburger restaurant in America. 960 1280

  

Louis' Lunch

Louis' Lunch

George talks with the owner of Louis’ Lunch, Jeff Lassen, who, along with his brother, is keeping their great-grandfather’s tradition alive. 960 1280

  

Louis' Lunch

Louis' Lunch

They still serve the same hamburger their great-grandfather made, even using the same upright broilers from 1898. Their traditional burger is topped with tomato, onion and a sharp cheddar spread on toasted white bread. 960 1280

  

Shady Glen in Manchester, CT

Shady Glen in Manchester, CT

George’s second stop is Shady Glen in Manchester, CT – a tribute to the '50s-style diner. Shady Glen was originally an ice cream stop, but the restaurant’s first owner, Bernice Rieg, brought in a grill for the winter months and started serving burgers. 960 1280

  

Shady Glen

Shady Glen

The manger of Shady Glen walks George through their utterly unique burger-cooking process. 960 1280

  

Shady Glen

Shady Glen

George talks with the owner's son, Bill Hoch, at Shady Glen. It is not known how the original owner came up with the “Bernice Original,” but it is one of the most unique burgers in the US. 960 1280

  

Shady Glen's burger

Shady Glen's burger

The ground sirloin burger at Shady Glen is cooked on a flattop grill with 4 slices of cheddar cheese placed symmetrically on the burger. When the cheese starts to cook through, the line cook bends the cheese upwards, forming a crown of delicious crispy cheese that sits atop the burger. 960 1280

  

Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT

Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT

Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT, has been serving steamed cheeseburgers – or “cheeseburgs” as the locals call them -- since 1959. 960 1280

  

Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT

Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT

Bill Foreman, the current owner of Ted’s, puts ground beef into small pans and slides them into his custom steam box. In a separate steam box, he melts Vermont cheddar to top this juicy, fluffy burger. 960 1280

  

Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT

Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT

The owner of Ted’s discusses the merits of the steamed cheeseburger with George. Steamed burgers are specific to the central part of Connecticut, and they are served by only 20-25 places. 960 1280

  

Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT

Ted's Restaurant in Meriden, CT

The origins of this burger, much like other burgers in this state, started with the abundance of factories in Connecticut years ago. Workers needed a quick and inexpensive meal, and Ted’s was there to provide them with it. 960 1280

  

Harry's Place in Colchester, CT

Harry's Place in Colchester, CT

Harry's Place in Colchester, CT, was opened in 1920 by original owner Harry Schmuckler, but it was only open from St. Patrick’s Day to Halloween, due to Connecticut’s cold winter months. 960 1280

  

Harry's Place in Colchester, CT

Harry's Place in Colchester, CT

George and Chris Fischer, local burger expert and George’s college roommate, try the burger at Harry's Place. 960 1280

  

Harry's Place in Colchester, CT

Harry's Place in Colchester, CT

At Harry's Place, there are a variety of toppings you can get with their burger, but the classic combination is sautéed onions, white American cheese and either ketchup or mustard. 960 1280

  

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