PM dining critic Hal B. Klein spent months eating scores of hamburgers in and around Pittsburgh. Find out how he narrowed his list down to 19 — and see which ones made the cut.
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photo by Teghan Simonton
Bubba’s Gourmet Burghers & Beer
Leave it to the son of a butcher named “Big Ed” to get serious about his meat. Bubba’s Owner Marc “Bubba” Snider — best known for his morning Bubba Show on 100.7 Star— worked with Speciality Steak Company to craft a custom blend of NY strip, sirloin, ribeye and brisket. The juicy burger is cooked in a multi-step process: first, it’s seared on a high-temperature flat-top, next it’s charbroiled and then it returns to the flat-top for cheese and other toppings. BreadWorks provides the buns, which are delivered daily; add fresh toppings such as a dippy-egg or order any of the specialty builds and you’ll likely knife-and-fork it here.
[3109 Washington Pike, Bridgeville; 412/564-5638, bubbaspgh.com]
The Kaya burger is busy, and it’s messy … and it’s marvelously satisfying. A tight patty consisting of a 50/50 mix of Weiss Provision Co. short rib and chuck is seared on cast iron and placed inside a toasted BreadWorks sesame seed bun. It’s dressed with pickles, bacon, avocado, tomato, Chihuahua cheese and “Kaya sauce” and then topped with a fried egg; even with all of that, the burger doesn’t get lost in the mix. Although this is a knife-and-forker — with everything going on, the bun eventually will fall apart — the Kaya burger never feels heavy. Must be the avocado.
[2000 Smallman St., Strip District; 412/261-6565, bigburrito.com/kaya]
Smoke Barbeque Taqueria
Add the Smoke hamburger to your list of “you want to get this when you can get it” hamburgers. Executive Chef/Co-owner Jeff Petruso started making burgers because he loves to eat burgers, and now the Lawrenceville barbecue restaurant serves flat-top-cooked 5.5-oz. patties of house-ground, Australian-wagyu brisket and sirloin every Tuesday. Go for a “deluxe” burger, a treat that features a litany of housemade items: brioche bun, American cheese, bacon, smoked-tomato mayonnaise, ketchup and pickles, plus caramelized onions and Bibb lettuce.
[4115 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/224-2070, smokepgh.com]