These are the best burgers in the Twin Cities

From smashed to stuffed, we name a cult and classic burger in 9 beefy categories.

By Sharyn Jackson and Joy Summers Star Tribune

Photos by Alex Kormann Star Tribune

May 30, 2024

These are the best burgers in the Twin Cities

By Sharyn Jackson and Joy Summers Star Tribune

Photos by Alex Kormann Star Tribune

From smashed to stuffed, we name a cult and classic burger in 9 beefy categories.

May 30, 2024

Wanna start a fight? Try telling someone where to get the best burger in the Twin Cities.

Dedicated food fans are not above falling in love with one single burger and declaring it the best. There's something about a burger that is tied to the deep love we have for our place in the world. It's become shorthand for American eating, backyard cookouts and the ingenuity of elevating humble scraps into something unforgettable.

But what makes a great burger? Is it the blend of beef? The cooking method? The accoutrements? Or is it a combination of those meaty attributes?

With all of that in mind, we're ready to wade into the heart of the burger brawl and declare winners. In each of nine categories, we paired a classic burger that's emblematic of its style — from thick, hunky bites and lacy meat crusts to the kind with molten cheese centers — with newer on-the-scene cult burgers that have aficionados taking to the socials to spread the good word.

No matter your favored flavor, we promise that these are all damn good burgers: the best smashies, thick cut, meat skirt and stuffed burgers in the metro area. Disagree? We'll meet you in the comments.

For a Minneapolis smashie

What's become the ubiquitous burger style comes from the delicious blunt-force meeting of ground meat and hot griddle via a metal implement.

Cult: StepChld

24 University Av. NE., Minneapolis

You know you've encountered something special when you get to the mitmita aioli, a spread made with an Ethiopian spice blend that's both fiery and a little smoky. But underneath that, and the eminently meltable Cooper American cheese (from which the burger gets its name), is an expertly smashed symphony of a double-patty burger, courtesy of chef-entrepreneur Kamal Mohamed. If StepChld weren't already on the map for its craveable international menu, this burger would certainly put it there.


Classic: Parlour

730 Washington Av. N., Minneapolis

There are two distinct eras in Minneapolis burger fandom: before Parlour and after Parlour. The proprietary blend of chuck, rib-eye and brisket results in a robust steak flavor, with a steakhouse price to match. You can find the Parlour burger in St. Paul, food trucks and local stadiums, but for the best version, hit the original in the North Loop.


Also try: Petite León, Little Tijuana, Bebe Zito, Coastal Seafood, Blondette, Lake & Irving, Hazel's

For a St. Paul smashie

In St. Paul, we're just fine with not being the originators of a trend, but the perfecters of flavors that stand the test of time.

Cult: DeGidio's Restaurant and Bar

425 W. 7th St., St. Paul

We love to cling to our classics with dedicated fervor, so it was surprising to see a burger on the menu of this iconic red-sauce restaurant. It quickly sailed straight to the top of our must-eat list with two smashed patties that mingle with luscious melty cheese, cradled into a toasty, butter bun that sets the stage for big meat flavor.


Classic: Saint Dinette

261 E. 5th St., St. Paul

Doing one better on Wisconsin's claim to all things butter, this burger actually has butter melded into the ground meat for an ultrarich beef delivery system. Since opening in 2015, Saint Dinette has always toed the line of decadence and cheffy refinement, and this burger set the tenor for the divine food experiences it's been delivering ever since.


Also try: Gus Gus, Burger Dive, Brunson's, Revival

For a crispy meat skirt

A smashburger pounded so thin the edges sizzle up on the grill and become the texture of a potato chip.

Cult: Chip's Clubhouse

272 Snelling Av. S., St. Paul

Chip's Clubhouse wears its beef skirt like a full '80s prom dress, hooped out way past the bun, trimmed by beef lace that was the restaurant's first calling card when it opened to immediate success during the pandemic. The result is an adventure in eating from the outside in.

From $10.95;

Classic: The Sonder Shaker

130 E. Hennepin Av., Minneapolis

During pandemic downtime, Sonder co-owner Cassidy Flannery did a one-day volunteer stint behind the counter of a famed Wisconsin fast-food establishment and learned how to get the perfect sear. When he came back, he rejiggered the menu and applied the Culver's technique to Iowa wagyu, which gets smashed down to near-smithereens on a blazing hot griddle so that the crisp edges can only be lifted by a razor-sharp spatula. The new Sonder Burger changed everything, Flannery said. "We've had a running inside joke that the burger legitimately saved us during COVID and allowed us to still be around today."


Also try: Churchill Street, the Butchers Deli, Bina's, Dream Creamery

For a thick patty

These sink-your-teeth-into-it thick steakhouse patties used to be the gold standard, and these burgers are a strong argument to bring the big beef back.

Cult: All Saints

222 E. Hennepin Av., Minneapolis

When chef and All Saints co-owner Denny Leaf-Smith unleashed this thick and succulent burger on the Twin Cities, it was like an oasis in a smashburger-strewn landscape. This double-hander comes blushing pink through the center with a salt- and pepper-crusted exterior.


Classic: P.S Steak

510 Groveland Av., Minneapolis

Beef expectations are high at a steakhouse, but P.S. Steak knows how to deliver above whatever lofty standards there are, with a rich, hunky burger cooked exactly to temperature specifications. Topped with baconnaise, butter lettuce and a ripe tomato, it's the definition of a classic steakhouse burger.


Also try: 112 Eatery, Ike's, TokiDoki Burger, Starling

For a Juicy Lucy

We are not wading into the Matt's Bar and the 5-8 debate, because, let's face it, you've already tried them and formed your own opinions. These are our other favorite cheese-stuffed goodies.

Cult: Mandalay Kitchen

383 University Av. W., St. Paul

Based on the chapli patties of his youth, Chris Tunbaw has upped the ante in the great Twin Cities Juicy Lucy legend. Burger fans are flocking to University Avenue to wrap both hands around this burger stuffed with slow-oozing cheese, avocado Dijonnaise and yogurt.


Classic: The Nook

492 Hamline Av. S., St. Paul

There is a generation of St. Paul burger fans that has been raised on the Nookie. With lines of folks milling about on weekends, the St. Paul mainstay has long been the place to go for great burgers. And for many, the Nookie stands as the best cheese-stuffed burger to be found anywhere. Medium-cooked patties surround oozy orange cheese just waiting to drip out at first bite.


Also try: Chloe (Vincent burger), Matt's Bar, the 5-8 Club

For a fully loaded burger

Toppings, sauces and even the bun (replaced by a grilled cheese sandwich) are fair game.

Cult: 328 Grill

328 Broadway Av., St. Paul Park

The burger is the canvas where chef Mik German creates his art and there are no limits to the man's imagination. From wild rice soup to fried green tomatoes to a Tater Tot hot dish-inspired gravy, these burgers are a 12-napkin affair with big flavors and fun names (like the recent Umami Issues for Mother's Day). Even a plain old bun can be replaced when you order the grilled cheese-like Fo Cheezy burger. It's cheeky fun that wouldn't work so well if not for the beefy cornerstone of these dishes.

From $14;

Classic: The Kenwood

2115 W. 21st St., Minneapolis

With its country club vibes, the elegance of the Kenwood seems like an unlikely destination for a top-shelf burger, but boy howdy does this chef-owned eatery deliver one. The Kenwood Burger is one that beguiles fellow chefs and tempts those wearing summer whites to dance with the devil of drippy juices. Stacked with tender-crusty pork belly and a sunny yolked egg, every ingredient is given careful attention and the results are stunning.


Also try: Pau Hana, Holman's Table, Nouvelle (Umami burger), Blue Door (Jif burger), World Street Kitchen (kofta burger), Juche (bulgogi burger), Wrestaurant, Urban Skillet, Red Cow

For an old-school diner burger

This burger style is best eaten in a historic setting: humble and seared into the nostalgic core of burgerdom.

Cult: Bull's Horn Food and Drink

4563 34th Av. S., Minneapolis

Even when chef Doug Flicker was professionally cooking fine-dining food, he's always held high esteem and strong opinions about what makes a great burger. Now that he's running this neighborhood bar with his wife, Amy Greeley, he's put the ideal burger on the menu. Humble ingredients, cooked beautifully and served without artifice, this is simply a crowd-pleasing, great burger with American cheese and a griddle-toasted bun.


Classic: Lions Tap

16180 Flying Cloud Dr., Eden Prairie

There are no forks or knives at this 1958 diner, just a napkin dispenser with some very important information on it: the menu. Only a few decisions need to be made: single or double, cheese or plain, fries or none? That's Lions Tap for you, the classic burger joint with even more classic burgers that live up to the almost-70-year hype.

From $4.95;

Also try: Band Box, Flameburger, Wagner's, 50′s Grill, Annie's Parlour, Convention Grill, the Coop

For a food truck burger

Tracking down these burgers comes with a spirit of adventure, and the hard-won prize is a meaty delight.

Cult: TSC Kitchen

While standing and waiting for orders to be called, it's fun to see Brian Podgorski press that meat into the griddle and watch the juices dance between the latticework of beef. He and spouse/partner Nikki Podgorski are a two-person show of bold flavors and small-business fun. The burgers, though, are serious business, heavily seasoned with salt, black pepper and whatever creative toppers fuel them. Formerly known as the Salsa Collaborative, the duo are expected to be out and about at local breweries and events all summer long.

From $13;

Classic: Station No. 6

It might feel like it's new on the scene, but Station No. 6 has been in the works since 2015, when Josh Matthews first bought a fire department supply truck. It took four years to get it operational as a food truck, and even then, his 5-ounce smashburgers dripping in fried onions and scratch garlic aioli didn't immediately attain viral status. That changed when he stumbled onto a 25,000-member-strong Facebook group, MSP Burgers. He posted a photo of a "sloppy" double smash, and "Pandora's box was opened up." Matthews credits the group for the growth and success of Station No. 6, but he really ought to take some of the credit: His is one of the juiciest smashies we've encountered.

$15 for the OG Single; and inside the Rosetown American Legion Post 542 in Roseville

Also try: Angry Line Cook, Garillers, Sweet Lou's Meats, So & So's, Animales Burger Co.

For a veggie burger

Making a stellar meat-free burger is a tall order, but these experts exceed all expectations.

Cult: Francis Burger Joint

2422 Central Av. NE., Minneapolis

Francis began with the single-minded intention to make the very best, fully vegan burger anywhere and it's hard to argue with the results. From a trailer in a parking lot to a full-service restaurant with a full bar, Francis is a smashing ode to a vegan burger. An Impossible patty is perfectly seasoned, hugged with vegan cheese (that's actually melted) and topped with a signature burger sauce on the ideal bun: a little toasty and a good amount of squish. The diner-style burger is steeped with all those nostalgic flavors without any of the animal products.

From $12;

Classic: Mac's Diner

2526 7th Av. E., North St. Paul

The burger itself might be a newer creation, but the diner is a North St. Paul classic. It was a 1940s fixture in this suburb until it closed 20 years ago. In 2022, it came back with new owners who have a serious burger track record (B-52 Burgers & Brew and Lakeville's the Better Half are sister locations). While the beefy burgers are worth a stop, we were smitten with the herbaceous cauliflower patty, which managed to embody what we love about a great burger: a crispy sear, a texture that doesn't fall apart (we're looking at you, black bean burgers), and ingredients you can pronounce. It's been on the menu since reopening, and Bryan Campbell found the Impossible patty "uninspiring." "While the fake beef is quite popular, I believe vegetarians want something more unique," he said. Mission accomplished.


Also try: J. Selby's, Stray Dog, Altburger, Northbound Smokehouse (wild rice burger)

Correction: Previous versions of this story misstated Parlour's address.