So: Bristol’s burger game. Off the chain, right? Specialist burger restaurants started to proliferate here a couple of years ago, leaving some dubious as to whether so many of them could even survive in such close quarters. But here we are in 2019, still with a hefty offering across the city, each restaurant having a distinct style. It’s this diversity – which has kept punters’ appetites big and visits plenty – that we’ve been intrigued by this month, so we enlisted the help of a certain aficionado in our quest to guide you through the beefy spectrum.
Natalie Brereton – dubbed The Burger Queen by her thousands of social media followers – is a bap-loving member of team Crumbs. She co-founded the Bristol Burger Crawl and even took on (and beat) Josh Eggleton in a burger-off last year (better luck next time, Eggers). She’s given us her top tips, must-tries and reasons to visit for each of these speciality Bristol restaurants.
A set of pretty solid values form the backbone of this super-popular Colston Street restaurant – although the wood-fired grill is pretty integral, too. The organic dry-aged beef comes from cattle reared in Pilton and butchered by Popti and Beast in St Werburghs, buns are from Bertinet in Bath, and sauces are made in house. These ingredients earn the restaurant some serious gold stars when it comes to not only ethics but also – imperatively – flavour.
Natalie says: Absolutely smokin’ burgers – literally, the Asado barbecue gives them a distinctive flavour. I love owner Lucien’s passion for quality and supporting local produce. If you’ve never been, make your first order an El Don; you won’t regret it. Pink, juicy and messy – say no more.
2. Burger Joint
This place promises almost endless combinations through its 12 patties, 24 toppings, 26 sauces, 12 sides and four buns, allowing diners to build unique meals. Whatever you choose, though, you can be sure that the ingredients are of great quality; think buns from Hobbs House and meat from Ruby and White.
Natalie says: Sometimes you want to be fussy and this is when Burger Joint comes into its own, with the option to design a meal that’s exactly what you fancy. High praise for being one of Bristol’s longest standing burger restaurants, too.
This place might take burgers seriously – the full brigade of chefs pickle their own cucumbers, make their own sauces and press their own patties of fully traceable ingredients – but they have a great sense of humour. The menu is fun and imaginative and has regularly changing specials. Veggie? You’re taken care of here, with an inventive meat-free selection.
Natalie says: While I’m all about a beefy dream, I always order the Prairie Girl here: a juicy fried chicken breast covered in hot sauce and blue cheese dressing. It’s simple, but bloody banging. These guys also host regular bottomless burger clubs (genius!), which are worth checking out.
The very first Chomp burger we tried was from a truck at an Oxfordshire festival in 2014 – and we remember thinking it was one of the finest we’d ever had. So, when the first Chomp restaurant opened in Bristol later that year, we were pretty stoked. Almost five years on, the team are still keeping their heads down, knocking out really decent US-style hamburgers and offering a generous collection of bourbon to wash ’em down with.
Natalie says: Simple and classic. When the focus on high-quality beef is this stringent, you don’t need to mess around too much with the extras. These burgers are of a high calibre.
Aged beef rib cap from the renowned Buxton Butchers is the sole ingredient in the handmade patties here. They’re seasoned on the grill with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder, before being topped with house-smoked brisket, pulled pork chilli con carne or haggis – not forgetting the homemade chipotle mayo.
Natalie says: This is a cosy Gloucester Road boozer that also happens to offer some beautiful burgz. I always choose the Cow ’n’ Chicken, a beef burger topped with smoked bacon and melted brie – oh, and fried chicken. Epic. There’s another dish that you must order here, too. Three words: dirty, dirty fries.
This London-born outfit has settled right into its Bristol home, paying homage to the city in its food and drink offering. The special Bristol Burger sees a signature hand-chopped-beef patty teamed with bacon, Westcombe Dairy cheese and curds, shoestring fries, and a Pilton cider gravy. All burgers come with well-seasoned chips as standard, and the house gin is made in collaboration with Psychopomp.
Natalie says: I was really impressed when Honest Burgers first opened up in Bristol, and reckon they offer great value for money. My favourite is The Tribute, and I am officially addicted to the rosemary fries.
Born in Cornwall, this group of South West burger restaurants landed in Bristol in 2017 (having opened several sites in Devon on the way) with an edgy outfit on Whiteladies Road, all exposed red brick and neon signs. The American-style burgers are made from 21-day dry-aged Cornish rare breed beef, while fries are double fried for extra crunch.
Natalie says: You can’t visit Hubbox without ordering The Big Kahuna Burger, okay? Think 6oz beef patty, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, barbecue sauce, and onion rings. It’s a real beast.
If you like your burgers dirty and your hands greasy, this is the place to hit up – the original Picton Street site is mainly a takeaway, while the larger North Street restaurant has space to eat in. Bright coloured metro tiles and red banquette seating give a proper diner feel, and the monstrous baps will require sleeve rolling.
Natalie says: The filthiest within Bristol’s burger crew, Oowee is always my go-to the morning after too many tequilas and bad decisions. More cheese than you could ever wish for teamed with juicy meat, and the portions of loaded fries are properly meals in themselves.
9. The Ox
The Ox specialises in all things beef, being best known for its top-notch steaks. But take heed: its burgers are also banging. They feature a blend of prime cuts from local butcher Nigel Buxton, come with fries, and can be seen off with a beer for just £15 every Wednesday night. Keep it under wraps, but we’ve had word of the imminent return of the famous chicken burger, too.
Natalie says: The double cheeseburger can be pimped up by adding grilled field mushrooms, pickled jalapenos or blue cheese. It’s melt-in-the-mouth wonderful and should never be forgotten amongst our burger greats.
10. Quay St Diner
This US-inspired diner serves all manner of meat-filled buns. Aside from the Philly cheesesteak and po’ boys, there are three cheeseburgers to choose from, including the signature ‘classic’. This number shows the virtue in simplicity: a smashed patty of local dry-aged beef with house burger sauce and pickles, it’s got all the necessaries for a really decent feed.
Natalie says: I’d agree with choosing the classic cheeseburger here – unless you want to go big with the all-American double, of course. Either way, wash it down with a Negroni.
11. Smoke and Glaze
You can find baps by this pop-up outfit in The Pipe and Slippers on Gloucester Road and The Windmill on Windmill Hill. The team are fierce about making every element of their meals from scratch and have just launched a brand new burger at The Pipe, inspired by three-Michelin-starred sushi chef Masa Takayama. Like his, this number is smoked in its entirety – yup, fillings, bun and everything – over oak wood chips.
Natalie says: This underdog of the Bristol burger scene knocks out some of the most underrated baps in the city. I’d highly recommend the Chimi-Chimi-Ya: a beef patty topped with cave-aged Cheddar, chorizo, chimichurri dressing, paprika mayo and Cajun ketchup. Yes, please.
Hear the news? This place only bagged itself a place on the National Burger Awards’ shortlist for 2019. The tiny takeout likes a flat patty and promises great flavour combos from its imaginative fillings – without overloading that bap. The Reverse Cowgirl is exemplary of its style; the patty is topped with bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, peanut chipotle barbecue sauce and charred scallion sour cream.
Natalie says: Owner Alex is a burger god: his creations are the result of a talented chef having the freedom to make the buns he loves The classic St Werburger is my number one burger in Bristol. If you haven’t yet tried it, do so now.
Burger on a boat? Don’t mind if we do. Three Brothers floats on the river at the end of King Street and has a belting lunch deal, offering a burger and fries for a fiver (yes, a fiver), seven days a week, between midday and 5pm. The most popular baps here are the Smokey Bro, Buttermilk Chicken and The Mega Burger.
Natalie says: This is a Bristol burger institution. If you want a beefy challenge – I know you do – opt for the Mega Burger, with double American cheese, double sweet cured bacon and double patty. And don’t forget those chilli cheese fries, now.
14. Yoyo Burger
Yoyo is celebrating its 11th birthday this month. Almost anything goes on its eclectic menu – so long as it tastes good – from beefy creations like the New Yorker (with pastrami, Emmental, gherkins and mustard mayo) to more speciality serves, like an ostrich burger and even a Japanese wagyu number. These guys are big on delivery, too – great for the lazier of days.
Natalie says: This is a late-night favourite and has a whopping menu full of variety. If you are feeling adventurous, there are lobster burgers and even the infamous Krispy Kreme special.