Where to find some of Charleston’s best every day
Seven days, seven different burgers in Charleston … go.
Ask 10 Lowcountry residents to name their picks, and you’re sure to get 10 different lists, showing Charleston’s versatility in the burger department. Here at the City Paper, we’ve made it our mission to sample as many local burgers as possible — it’s a tough job, but someone had to do it.
With such stiff competition in town, we thought: “What if we combed the long list of burger pop-ups, new restaurants, weekly one-offs and old standbys and suggested one for each day of the week?”
Below, you’ll find just that, with classic beef, turkey, vegan and even shrimp burgers making the City Paper’s Burger Week lineup. This week’s meal prep just got a little bit easier — now, all you have to do is venture out and see what our city has to offer between two buns.
Gobble Gobble Burger with a fried egg
Gobble Gobble at Palmetto Brewing Co.
289 Huger St. Downtown
Burgers and beer — it’s a pair that seems destined to kick-off Burger Week, so head over to Palmetto Brewing Co. for a turkey burger from Austin-based Gobble Gobble food truck, which landed in Charleston in January.
Have a hankering for Sunday brunch? Fear not, owner Joey Ryan gives guests the option to add a fried egg to any of his four staple burgers: the Gobble Gobble, Spicy Gobble Gobble, Moo Moo and Veggie. According to Ryan, “Our signature ‘Gobble Gobble’ pairs great with an egg.”
To make the Gobble Gobble turkey patty, Ryan combines ground turkey with organic vegetables before topping with white cheddar, arugula and lemon aioli. The response to this family recipe and other Gobble Gobble burgers “has been amazing” since Ryan parked the truck on Huger Street, he said. “We are getting busier and busier and are very excited about our future in Charleston.”
Little Jack’s Tavern
710 King St. Downtown
It’s only day two, but you might be ready for a “Meatless Monday” — we have a long week of burger-eating ahead of us, after all.
When dining at Little Jack’s Tavern, you can’t go wrong with the lauded Little Jack’s Tavern Burger, served simply with American cheese, “tavern” sauce and griddled onions. But next time you stop by the King Street restaurant, listen to co-owner Brooks Reitz and give the shrimp burger a try.
“My favorite burger on the menu at Little Jack’s is not the award-winning beef version, for which we have an awkwardly large trophy perched behind the bar,” Reitz wrote back in March in his newsletter, “A Small and Simple Thing.”
“Oh contraire, dear reader: I prefer the sheepish little fella lurking in the corner: the Shrimp Burger.”
Panko breadcrumbs help bind ground local shrimp and give the patty that quintessential burger mouth-feel. Stuffed inside a fluffy hamburger bun and topped with a Duke’s mayonnaise and sour cream-based “special” sauce, this burger, sandwich or whatever you want to call it was destined for a coastal restaurant’s menu.
Red Chile Cheeseburger
JL’s Southwest Brisket Burgers
484 Nassau St. Downtown
Lewis Barbecue owner John Lewis’ signature Texas-style brisket plays a prominent role in the burgers at JL’s, the Southwest-style trailer that’s parked outside his downtown restaurant.
“We’re famous for brisket, and we’ve got lots of it,” Lewis said. “It’s a coarse grind
— it’s almost like a steakburger a little bit.”
Brisket and chiles from Hatch, New Mexico, show up throughout the small menu, from sundaes to two of the three burgers
— the green and red chile cheeseburgers.
According to Lewis, almost all of the chiles are picked when they’re green, but if you leave them in the sun for a couple extra days, they turn red and sweet for a short window before drying out. Lewis said “he’s convinced people out [in New Mexico]” to pick, roast, cryovac and ship the red chiles found on JL’s Red Chile Cheeseburger to Charleston year-round.
“I don’t know that there’s anyone else — maybe in the country — doing a red chile cheeseburger,” Lewis said.
654 King St. Downtown
It’s burger week hump day, and we have an unexpected treat for you, courtesy of Neon Tiger executive chef Doug McNish, who char-broils a Beyond Burger patty to make the all-vegan eatery’s BBQ Burger.
“The texture and the flavor of the Beyond Burger is incredible. I love supporting them because they’re industry leaders,” McNish said. “Being able to support a company like that with the same ethics and values was really important to me.”
Joining the “burger” inside a pretzel bun is melted Follow Your Heart “cheese,” barbecue sauce, caramelized onions, crispy vegan bacon and garlic aioli. McNish doubts guests will miss the meat on this burger — he does sell 300-500 per week, after all.
Buford T. Justice Burger
Blackout Burger at Hobcaw Brewing Company
496 Long Point Road. Mount Pleasant
The tantalizing smell of Blackout Burger is a Thursday staple at Hobcaw Brewing, where owner Cameron Wetzler parks his burger-themed trailer each week. His standard burger comes with “fancy sauce,” house-made curry dill pickles, American cheese and caramelized onions, while the “Blackout-Style” is topped with house-made chili and bleu cheese coleslaw. But according to Wetzler, there’s one burger that only weekly visitors will know to order.
“A secret menu item for the true fans is the ‘Buford T. Justice,’ ” said Wetzler, who serves all of his burgers inside Brown’s Court Hawaiian buns. “[The burger has] our Frito pie on top of the standard burger.”
Wetzler’s recipe for Frito pie, a messy combination of beans, beef and, well, Fritos, stems from his father’s time at Frito- Lay — so you know it’s authentic. And messy. Like, really messy.
Cabin Smash Burger
247 Congress St. Downtown
Harold’s Cabin reopened in downtown’s Westside neighborhood after an 18-month pandemic-prompted closure with a new 12-item menu that includes a revamped Cabin Burger, a longtime staple at the local favorite. It’s an unembellished take on a cheeseburger, and one that’s executed to perfection.
“We did a lot of research on the burger,” said Harold’s Cabin owner John Schumacher, adding that they started with a double patty “but couldn’t dial it in.”
Bun, burger, cheese, onions and pickles combine to form one cohesive bite that’s jumping with flavor.
“Oftentimes, when you see a burger on a menu, the proportions are off. What I mean by that is sometimes there is too much meat or too much bread,” Schumacher said. “Besides the overall flavor, one of the critical aspects is the burger-bun-condiment ratio. All the ingredients have to be harmonious; the first bite has to be the same as the last.”
According to Schumacher, the hardest part about crafting an elite burger is choosing the trimmings. For Harold’s, he found a trifecta that just works.
“After multiple tastings we zeroed in on cheddar, caramelized onions and dill pickles,” Schumacher said, adding that the burger is the restaurant’s top seller since it reopened in September. “The last two facets that helped take it over the top was [our] ‘Comeback Sauce’ and one [member] of our kitchen staff, Derek, makes an incredible onion bun. So far the customer response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
334 East Bay St. Downtown
Ted’s is known for its gourmet greats — provisions, sandwiches, soups, charcuterie and more — but punch your ticket to “Ultimate Burger Saturday” for one of just 48 burgers that owner Ted Dombrowski grills on his Big Green Egg. The weekly tradition started in 2014, Dombrowski said.
“The way we started doing it was we did tributes to known burgers around the country,” he said. Tributes to In-and-Out’s “animal style” and Matt’s Bar & Grill’s
“Juicy Lucy” led to today’s Ted’s offering — a new special burger every month along with a classic “Backyard Burger,” both of which are made using patties ground the night before each Saturday service.
“I think the biggest difference is because we cut meat everyday,” said Dombrowski, who combines steak trimmings with chuck and brisket, forming the mixture into seven-ounce patties. “There’s trim from cutting steaks, and that all winds up in the burger blend.”
In November, Ted’s specialty burger is topped with bacon, pickled red onions and gouda cheese sauce.