While Kansas City's slow-smoked barbecue might get all the fanfare, its burgers are worth chasing down. From big-and-juicy mega patties on chewy onion rolls to skinny-and-savory sliders on fluffy buns, there are a ton of delicious options to choose from. Throw in some crispy tater tots and a rich, smooth milkshake, and you've found yourself a Midwestern meal as American as apple pie. If you’re looking for a great burger in the KC area, swing by one of these great burger joints.
When it’s 2 a.m. and you're hankering for a burger and a shake, there's really only one place worth going to: Town Topic. Open 24 hours a day, the downtown location on Broadway is an old-school diner, where the patties are greasy and the waitress calls you "hun."
When the first location opened in the late 1930s, the burgers sold for 5 cents each. The prices have come up a bit since then, but it's still one of the best KC sites to find a cheap-yet-tasty burger. A single patty rings up at around $3. The low price is a result of its complete lack of muss or fuss—just juicy patties with some grilled onions on a steamed bun. Toss in some matchstick fries and a shake, and it's the perfect way to end a night out on the town—or recover from one.
Pro tip: This place is small. If you want to order food during peak hours, you might be better off opting for takeout.
If you're looking for a burger with a lot of personality and myriad combinations to try, it's hard to beat BRGR in KC's Power and Light District. In addition to the standard ground chuck and short rib blended patty, you have the option to get your burger made with local all-natural beef, ground turkey or bison meat. And that's just to start. There's also a wide selection of buns to choose from, including an onion bun, egg roll, sourdough, and brioche bun—proving no burger staple is a given at BRGR.
The menu boasts an impressive selection of both traditional and out-of-the-box flavor combos—like the Fast Cow. With espresso-encrusted bleu cheese (you read that right), rosemary aioli, arugula, caramelized onions and bacon all smothered across a patty that sits atop an English muffin, it's hard to tell where your tastebuds will go next with each and every bite.
Pair any one of their burgers with an order of the "Not-So-Standard Tots." At $12 a pop, they aren't exactly cheap, but they are shareable. For a real adventure, try the totchos. The crispy tater tots topped with gooey cheese, pico de gallo, black beans and jalapeños, make for an interesting—not to mention calorie-packed—spin on a Tex-Mex classic.
Pro tip: For a lighter side dish, try the charred broccoli. The crunchy florets are cooked with chile oil and a sprinkle of parmesan that makes for a healthier—yet still crispy—alternative to fries.
You wouldn't call Max's Burgers and Gyros "fancy," but then again, it's not trying to be. The first thing you see when you pop into this West Waldo hole-in-the-wall is a backlit, all-caps menu board that looks like it hasn't been touched since it was installed. Small knickknacks sit in plain view behind the counter, and the red swivel-seat barstools and checkered tile floor complement the Coca-Cola paraphernalia nicely. The cafe's decor might be a little dated—but it's not a grimy dive. Everything is scrubbed clean and well maintained.
Nowhere is this high standard of care more evident than in the food. Well-seasoned burgers are served on light, fluffy buns and dressed to order with lettuce, onion and pickle. The ingredients are simple, but it works. Add in some curly fries or tater tots, and an ice-cold soda, and all the flavors work together like a finely tuned orchestra.
Pro tip: When the weather is decent, enjoy your meal out on the patio.
This Independence, Missouri hot spot is a bit of a hike to get to, but it's become a sort of destination drive-thru. Locals cherish it. Kansas Citians road trip to it. It's a whole thing. Much like its chain counterpart White Castle, the burgers are thin and greasy and seasoned to perfection. For some, the sound of the foil as you unwrap your sandwich is enough to bring tears to your eyes—the deeply rooted nostalgia for this place is just that strong.
You can round out your burger with any number of deep-fried sides, including the quintessential tater tots. But the real draw here are the stuff spudz. Crispy potatoes, stuffed with creamy cheese with a spicy finish—they are the perfect pairing to the simple-yet-flavorful burgers. Afterward, treat yourself to a Peach Nehi float (another local favorite) or one of more than a dozen different shake flavors.
This bar and grill located near the intersection of West 43rd and Summit appears to operate by the motto "Go big, or go home." At about a quarter pound, Westport's "Mini" Market Burger is the size of a standard burger at your average American restaurant, and the Flea Market Burger has over a half-pound of ground chuck. But neither compares to the "Super" Flea. The five-patty burger—yes, five—is served with cheese and bacon, with two pounds of fries on the side. Finish it all in 30 minutes, and you get a t-shirt, your picture on the wall, and likely a recommendation to seek immediate medical attention.
Place your order at the bar, as servers only bring drinks—and the drink menu is unsurprisingly extensive. At any given time, the bar has 44 different brews to choose from, along with a wide selection of cocktails and sodas. The menu also features some other Midwestern delicacies like fried ravioli, potato skins and chili.
Pro tip: Westport only accepts cash—no credit cards, checks or anything other than good, old-fashioned American currency. If you don't have enough on-hand, however, don't fret. An ATM is available on site.