UPDATED MAY 2014
When this article was originally posted in 2012, there was an uptick in new burger joints. While that uptick has since slowed, there are still more ways to get a burger in Tucson than there are ways to skin a cat. (But don’t skin any cats, please).
With National Burger Day upon us, it’s time to update and repost this oldie but goodie – a Tucson fast food burger breakdown.
This post isn’t about every burger available in town, although keep your eye out for an extensive burger list coming soon. Also, let’s not forget that great burgers aren’t restricted to burger joints. Great burgers abound in Tucson. Downtown Kitchen and Cocktails has an amazing burger with foie gras, manchego, and bacon. BK Carne Asada & Hot Dog’s burger is highly recommended. And, Zinburger consistently puts out some of the best burgers in town. If you’re into grass fed burgers, Wilko is a winner, and let’s not forget about locally sourced extraordinaire Diablo Burger. Other restaurants worth mentioning are 47 Scott, Monkey Burger, Fleming’s affordable happy hour burger, The Abbey, Sullivan’s, Lindy’s, and The Parish. Of course, this isn’t an all-inclusive list and many will disagree. Burger preference is a very personal thing.
This article uses a 0 – 3 rating, with 3 being the highest. Although Smashburger has held the title for some time now, In’N’Out had to be added. And, there’s no denying the power of the Double Double Animal Style.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
This is a lean, bland burger, with tasteless toppings. I like the idea of the toppings. I like their bare-bones, minimalist aesthetic with self-promotional quotes all over the place (as if to reassure you that, yes, you’ve made the right choice), but add some salt. Or some Old Bay. Something. It just plain lacks a flavor punch. And, the half-bag serving of fries is absurd.
Flavor Profile: 0
Overall Score: 4
The Classic Butter Burger
Culvers’ Butter Burger is a tasty burger. It’s not the tastiest of the bunch, but it’s not the least tasty, either. Cooked “…only after you order, topped just the way you want it and served on a lightly buttered toasted bun,” this is what makes it a “butter” burger. It’s less messy than an Animal Style burger from In’N’Out, and it does taste fresher. The bun is slightly greasy, too.
Flavor Profile: 2
Overall Score: 5
Original Double Cheeseburger
Freddy’s seems to offer very little originality to the mix with a very simple menu. But, the burger does pack a flavor punch. Called a “steakburger,” this burger is slightly crisp at the edges – like Smashburger’s – and has heavy amounts of mustard and pickle. It’s tasty, salty and just a hair closer to a McDonald’s burger than an In’N’Out burger. Great fries, by the way.
Flavor Profile: 3
Overall Score: 7
One of the best of the bunch. This is a great burger. It’s full of flavor and juicy. The lettuce, tomato, and pickle are fresh. The slightly crisp edges, while slightly off seeming at Freddy’s, works well at Smashburger. The bread complements the burger perfectly. But, for the most part, it tastes the best. One of my favorite things about Smashburger is that, while normally one would order french fries with a burger, they offer flash fried veggie sticks. It’s a great alternative. Still, the french fries are hard to resist.
Flavor Profile: 3
Overall Score: 8
Double Double Animal Style
A classic. There are three things going on here. 1) In’N’Out in general. I hope you’ve been. 2) Double Double is the way to go. 3) Animal Style. It’s on their not-so-secret menu. This is not a picture of it. It’s a “burger of your choice with hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, a mustard cooked beef patty; add pickle, extra spread with grilled onions.” It’s delicious. But it’s delicious in one of those road trip food kind of ways.
Flavor Profile: 3
Overall Score: 9