Perfect patties: Where to find London’s best burgers

Zoe Gunn

26 August 2021

From blowout beef burgers to innovative vegan versions, indulge in the capital's ultimate comfort food 

26 August 2021 | Zoe Gunn

Burgers are the epitome of democratic decadence. Whether you consider yourself a fine-dining foodie or a fast food fan, everyone loves a burger – and London is bursting with restaurants dedicated to finessing the art of their creation. Here's where to find the best burgers in the capital.

Black Bear Burger, Brixton and Shoreditch

Black Bear’s motto is ‘simple, done well’. So, if you’re after a classic cheeseburger taken to the next level, this is your go-to. This Canadian-inspired restaurant started life as a stall in Broadway market and now has two permanent sites in Brixton Village and Boxpark Shoreditch. All meat is sourced from high-welfare farms in the UK, with a blend of dry-aged cuts from Native Breed beef cows used to create patties that are tender and full of flavour. But the attention to detail doesn’t stop there. Chips are hand-cut on site, while all condiments, rubs, sauces, pickles, ferments and even the soft serve ice creams, are homemade.

Neat Burger, various locations

Ever wondered how Lewis Hamilton stays in tip-top condition for a life on the F1 track? Well, we’re not saying he eats at Neat Burger every day but, as a chief backer, it’s safe to say he’s probably tried more than his fair share of its delectable vegan treats. There are currently four Neat Burgers in the capital – in Camden, Soho, Mayfair and Finsbury Park – with another six in the pipeline, so expect it to become your new favourite neighbourhood spot. The menu is entirely plant-based – not that you’d ever guess it from the look or taste. As well as a full complement of ‘Neat Meat’ burgers, chick’n burgers, hot dogs and Filet-No-Fish sandwiches, there are also nuggets, burger bowls, vegan shakes and gelato.

Burger & Lobster, various locations

The first Burger & Lobster opened its doors in Mayfair in 2011 as part of a growing wave of fast-casual restaurants making their name by doing one thing really, really well. Burger & Lobster’s USP, as you may have guessed, was in blending the elegance of the ocean’s most revered crustacean with the everyman appeal of a great burger – and it was an instant hit. There are now nine restaurants across the capital, plus branches in New York, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuwait and Malaysia, which should give you some idea of just how good the food is here. There are four burgers on offer (as well as a huge variety of shellfish), including the classic B&L burger; Beast burger with lobster, brie and truffle; a fried lobster tail burger; and a vegan option.

Nanny Bill’s, Wembley

Inspired by founder Darren Simpson’s own Nanny Bill, and the café she ran during the 1970s and 80s, Nanny Bill’s started life in 2015 as a vintage food truck at East London’s Night Tales market. Word about its hand-pressed burgers and Mac & Cheese croquettes quickly spread and, following collaborations with the likes of Barbour, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas and Levi’s, Nanny Bill’s found a permanent home in Boxpark Wembley. If you’re not based in North London, you’ll also find Nanny Bill’s popping up at Goose Island in Shoreditch, Monarchy in Camden and Vinegar Yard in London Bridge. The signature here is the Dalston Dip: a double-beef patty with mustard glaze, American cheese, caramelised onions, relish, burger sauce and a pot of gravy for dipping.

Hard Rock Cafe, Park Lane

Whatever your opinion of the Hard Rock franchise – musician’s paradise or overpriced tourist trap – it would be difficult to ignore any restaurant with the confidence to call its signature burger the Original Legendary when compiling this list. Said burger was, in fact, the impetus for the entire Hard Rock enterprise, which was founded by Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton after trying and failing to find a decent American burger in London. Constructed with a steak patty, bacon, cheddar, onion ring, lettuce and tomato, it has since spawned an entire series of Legendary siblings, including a BBQ bacon cheeseburger, double-decker cheeseburger and two vegan varieties, made using either Impossible burger or Moving Mountains patties.

Cafe Biltmore, Mayfair

It is a truth universally known in the culinary world that if you put a burger on your menu, it will almost always be your best seller – which is why you’ll seeing them popping up on a lot of otherwise fine-dining menus. One savvy restaurateur who wasn’t about to let this business no-brainer pass him by is Jason Atherton, whose new restaurant at the Biltmore hotel, features not one, but two, burgers. Luckily, both more than stand up to the elegant Mediterranean fare found elsewhere on the menu. Choose between a classic beef burger with Fontina cheese and tomato relish, or a buttermilk fried-chicken sandwich with lettuce and Churchill sauce.

Simplicity, Brick Lane

Fermented vegetables may not rank highly on your list of favourite comfort foods but, left in the capable hands of the chefs over at Simplicity, they are transformed into something utterly delicious. Simplicity’s ethos is all about zero-waste, vegan fare that’s every bit as indulgent as its carnivorous counterparts and it achieves this by creating burgers from fermented seasonal British and European vegetables, using the leftover liquor to make gravy and michelada cocktails. The kitchen also ferments tomatoes to create vegan cheese, ketchup and kombucha with absolutely nothing (not even the vines) ending up in the bin. The real magic though? One taste of the classic cheeseburger and you might swear off its meaty rivals for good.

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