I remember when I was living in this little town in Le Marche a few years ago and I got overwhelmed with all the delicious Italian food (yes, it can happen, it's like the Stendhal sydrome but with food), my only choices were: 1) the sad Chinese restaurant 3 towns and a 30-minute train ride away or 2) the perfectly healthy but ordinary burger of the local pub... Then I moved to Milan, and with the rain, the fog and the Milanese custom of complaining of everything, came also (thank God) the variety in foreign foods!
In the past couple of years there's been a burger-boom in town, everything from kosher, fish, lamb, veggie to vegan burgers, and I must say there's been an overuse of the word "gourmet". The thing is that, if a couple of years ago you wouldn't dare to pay more than 10 euros for a burger, now there are few places in town where you can get one for less than that (then if you add extra ingredients you can go waaaay over 10).
Anyhow, it has become a personal challenge of mine to find the best burger in town, I still have to try many other places but so far, here's my Top 5:
The Coffee Shop
This tiny restaurant in Porta Nuova area won the fifth spot on my list because of the kindness of the staff, the retro-vibe of the place and the yummy patty made of Piedmont top quality meats.
Prices: between 9 and 12€
Pros: good quality of the meat, cozy atmosphere
Cons: not good for groups of more than 4
My order: Ovada - Piedmont fassona meat, gorgonzola cheese, onion jam, salad and mustard. (12€)
Contact info: C. Bastioni di Porta Nuova 48 - 20100 Milano (MI) - Tel. +39 391 3971136
This artisanal brewery from Piedmont opened last year a bar with surprisingly good burgers in Via Solferino (what I like to call "Milan foodie street"). Nice to watch the game with friends (they have a big seating area downstairs with screens) and to enjoy a good burger with a beer (only one though..)
Prices: between 9 and 18€
Pros: good portions, big seating area, good for groups, good quality beers, orders come with fries
Cons: although good quality, beers are a bit expensive, also the burgers at 18 €
My order: Parigi - 180 gr. SlowFood meat, salad, roquefort fondue, caramelized onion. (14€)
Contact info: Via Solferino, 56 - 20121 Milano (MI) - Tel. +39 02.6597758
Al Mercato Burger Bar
Tiny burger bar (3/4 tables for 2 and bar seating for 3/4), no reservations policy. When you get there they'll tell you more or less the time you'll have to wait - cause you'll have to wait! - just remember to add 15/20 minutes more to the time they tell you. The place should be a temple of street food from different parts of the world with what allegedly is Milan's best burger (too high expectations!). While I hated the jalapeño poppers (they were neither jalapeños, nor poppers, just red peppers with almost no cheese, and some bread crums), I really liked the burger: it's nice that you can add ingredients to your burger (which costs 10 euro without any extra ingredients). Prices: between 10 and 17€
Pros: huge burgers, good ingredients, nice staff, good bar selection
Cons: tiny place, looong waits, high prices, no reservations
My order: Burger with cheddar, avocado, jalapeño mayo (14€)
Contact info: Via Sant’Eufemia 16, 20122 Milano - Tel. +39 0287237167
Ham Holy Burger
As I wrote in my post about HHB, I thought Ham Holy was going to be my Top first (but wait until you read about #1), I keep coming back to them because I love their formula: iPad orders, now there's even an "order ahead" option, few burgers, excellent ingredients, original combinations, fast service, cool atmosphere. They change the menu once or twice a year and always add something different. They have 5 stores between Milan and Rome, a new opening in London and a book with their recipes!
Prices: between 9 and 12€
Pros: iPad orders, efficient and fast service, good quality ingredients, original combinations, good fries (extra cost), non-stop service from noon to midnight
Cons: bad wine list, burger order doesn't include fries (like in other places)
My order: last time it was the Keepburger - Slow Food Piedmont meat, goat cheese, speck, caramelized figs and onions, rosemary sauce (11€)
Contact info: the three Milan shops: Via Palermo, 15 Tel. +39 02 875510 / Via Marghera, 34 Tel. +39 02 36706382 / Viale Bligny, 39 Tel. +39 02 36595557
After all these "gourmet burger" places, is it possible to find an unpretentious, good, hearty burger? Yes! Burger Wave! The place is not big so booking is compulsory. Decor reminds me of a surfer's shack, no fancy tablecloths, no ipad orders, just plain good burgers with good ingredients, a nice relaxed atmosphere and low prices, the way it should be! I'm still drooling remembering my lamb burger, nice portion but not huge, juicy meat not overcooked and good ingredients. I have gotten used to all these gourmet burger places that charge 12+€ for a burger because it's "gourmet" and has "premium/DOC/DOP/SlowFood ingredients"that finding this place with reasonable prices and yummy real burgers made my day, that's why it made it to the Top spot of my list!
Prices: between 4.90 and 6.50€
Pros: good ingredients, fair prices, juicy meat, vegetarian burger options, Australian beers
Cons: small place, difficult to get a table on weekend nights
My order: Lambi - lamb meat, guacamole, cheese, salad, herbs mayo and tomato relish (6.50€)
Contact info: via Ascanio Sforza, 47 Milano (MI) - Tel. +39 02.365.604.61 New Opening: Corso di Porta Ticinese, 59 Milano (MI) - Tel. +39 02.894.278.15
Others I still have to try: 212, Trita, Macinata, Polpa, Burbee, Baobab, Hamburgeria di Eataly