Methodology: The methodology for this burger study was not scientific, but it was delicious. I took the top burger restaurants from various lists: City Paper, Eater, Thrillist, and Foursquare, and came up with 33 popular burger restaurants. Ten establishments were off-peninsula, 23 on. I made a lot of executive decisions regarding “default cheese,” or for that matter, what the default burger was at any place. If “Classic” was in the name, it was default. Most of those involved cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and mayo. Default cheese was kind of a crapshoot: most were obvious, but where I had to guess, I picked the first one in the list. Usually a good thing for Cheddar or American, which were nearly tied to begin with and were the default in most other places. So I’d say it’s representative. With that said, let’s take a look at the stats.
Burgers in Peninsular Charleston these days are gonna set you back about $13.50.
You’ll save a bit if you travel off the peninsula: the average burger off-peninsula is $10.20, meaning a savings of $3.20. That’s getting into draft beer territory.
The most expensive burger in Charleston is still Charleston Place Hotel’s The Palmetto Café’s $29 “Surf & Turf” burger, a decadent item topped with lobster and béarnaise.
About a third of the time, your burger comes without any side, like fries or a salad.
The average price for a burger with no side: $10.65.
The average price for a burger with side: $13.
Adding bacon, on average, is going to cost you $1.50.
Charleston loves their cheese: 16 varieties were counted among the menus.
Charleston’s default cheese? American (lovingly referred to as “government cheese” by more than one establishment, likely finding in agreement with the government who says, it “slices and melts well.”) It’s on 42% of Charleston’s burgers by default, including at HUSK, Rarebit, and Butcher & Bee.
There’s technically a difference between American cheese and “government cheese,” mostly fillers and emulsifiers. I do not know if those saying they’re serving government cheese are indeed doing so. I’d bet it’s a Kraft single.
Other default cheeses: Cheddar (a close second, at 39% of restaurants), Pimiento, Fontina, and Provolone.
Most Charleston restaurants are going to give you a choice when it comes to your cheese; three or four cheese choices, depending on how you round. But a third give you no choice in cheese at all!
70% have Cheddar
42% have American
36% have Swiss, Pepper Jack, or Pimiento
33% have a bleu of some variety
Looks like you can only get Fontina at one spot: Oak Steakhouse. Fontina beats out Boursin and Brie as the most exclusive Charleston burger cheese choice.
A handful of restaurants serve their burgers naked, with no cheese, because, I assume, they hate you and all things that are good.
Want the most cheese choices? Go to Sesame — but that shouldn’t be a surprise. Sesame’s “build your own” model means options make their business.
Double patties are popular, but the classic single patty still is most prevalent.
Most restaurants aren’t posting the burger’s weight these days. 8 oz. was the most popular of those who did, however. Keep the City Paper free We don't have a paywall. Each week's printed issue is free. We're local, independent and free. Let's keep it this way. Please consider a donation of $100 to keep the City Paper free. Donate: chscp.us
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