As a chef many people often ask me "What is my favorite burger spot?" Truth is I love a lot of different places for the different styles of burgers. For a great smash burger, I really like Barcelona Burger and Beer Garden, for a great thick 8 oz patty I dig the C.B.C.L.T at Cowfish. Going outside of the box, the lamb burger with red onion marmalade and gorgonzola fondue at 5Church is fantastic.
With that being said, I think the best question is "What makes a great burger?" For me, it is a 4 fold approach: the type of meat, how it is shaped, how it is cooked, and the bun.
1. The Meat - Plain and simple, to make a perfect burger the meat has to be top quality. I have a few different blends I like, but anything that has some brisket in it really helps to enhance flavor and mouth feel.
2. The size of the patty - The right size patty allows for the meat to cook to the proper internal temperature without sacrificing quality. I like beef and lamb at 8 oz, 1" thick. For a turkey burger a 6 oz seems to work better without over cooking parts. Big secret here is to not over work the meat. Roll the meat into a ball and gently pat into a patty.
3. The way it is cooked - It is important to cook burgers over high heat to char the outside. I am always a huge fan of cooking on an open grill. I personally love the flavor of meats over charcoal. Others prefer a pan seared to cook the meat in its own juices, but that isn't my jive. A critical finishing piece is using a thermometer and letting the meat rest after cooking for a more even doneness. Here are some temperatures to follow. Resting will give you about a 5 degree rise.
Rare - 120° to 125°F
Medium rare - 125° to 130°F
Medium - 130° to 135°F
Medium Well - 135° to 140°F
Well Done - 140° to 145°F
4. The bun - This gets really personal but I like a good Martins Potato Roll or the Milk Bread from Kindred in Davidson. IN any circumstance a fresh baked bun will usually be the winner.