We eat our way through the city's flame-grilled favourites
Time Out staff
It’s been two years since we last loosened our belts and ate our way through more than 30 of the city’s best burgers, which is why we thought it’s high time we did it again. After all, Dubai loves burgers – a sentiment that has been exemplified by the recent spate of openings (Burger Rebels, South St Burger and Best Burgers Forever earlier in the year) and pending openings (Elevation Burger on Sheikh Zayed Road, and yet more branches of Kiwi franchise BurgerFuel).
In fact, the city boasts burgers to suit all tastes and budgets: there are 54 McDonald’s outlets, as well as countless high-end burger options featuring all manner of luxury ingredients, from wagyu to foie gras. In our latest quest to find the best beef patty in town, we’ve steered away from the bigger fast food chains in order to showcase the venues grilling up something healthier, more innovative or more gourmet. We rated each burger according to the quality of the meat, the bun, the accompanying relish, its overall taste and (importantly), how messy it is to eat. We’ve also categorised the burgers by price, meaning when you next get that calorific craving, you know exactly where to go and what to order.
Dhs49 and under Best Burgers Forever Camel burger This restaurant is as kitsch as the name suggests: a sprawling white space teeming with enthusiastic staff. Thankfully it lives up to the ‘burger’ part of its title too: the camel burger tasted somewhat sweet (albeit over-dressed in cheese and mushrooms).
BurgerFuel Hot Rod Burger Sandwiched between two halves of a more savoury, grainy bun than its rivals, the thick, generous patty was well seasoned, nicely salted and not too greasy – the bun held firm, but the burger wasn’t sloppy enough to make this a real battle. The relish was just enough to offer tangy flavour rather than an all-out soaking, and the acid heat of the jalapeños was balanced by the melted cheddar. The aïoli dip on the side was a nice, garlicky extra.
Mess factor: 2/5 Overall: 3/5 Dhs32. Various locations including The Walk, JBR (04 445 8220).
Burger Rebel Burger Rebel Sliders These burgers may have been mini, but they were still pretty generous and satisfying. The bread was good and, instead of the usual patty, was stuffed with slices of tender and full-flavoured beef tongue, all enlivened with an attention-grabbing horseradish cream.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen Kiwi Burger This majestic (and slightly intimidating) stack of beef patty, fried egg, pineapple and beetroot made for an odd but unexpectedly pleasant combination. The egg offered an extra edge of gooey, oozy richness, while the pineapple and beetroot freshened things up. That said, on our visit the beef was neither well cooked, nor great quality.
Shake Shack Double Shack Stack The vague excuse for a bread bun encased an inconceivable concoction of beef patties (two of them – we ordered a double) and fried portobello mushrooms with melted muenster cheese. There was also an inconsequential lettuce leaf and a tomato slice, as well as an almost unnoticeable dollop of ‘Shack sauce’. It was fun to eat, but, once we were done, only the greasy aftertaste and the inflated price tag lingered in our memory.
Mess factor: 5/5 Overall: 2.5/5 Dhs49 (for a double Shack Stack). Mall of the Emirates (04 347 5513).
The Burger Joint Mighty Veggie TBJ’s ‘classic’ meat-free burger is a 180g veggie patty topped with iceberg lettuce, onions, tomato, pickles and TBJ Original Sauce. The whole thing came sandwiched between a not-too-stodgy bun, and tasted and looked rather like a falafel, freshened up by the delicious, tangy pickles. Carnivores may not be persuaded to forgo beef, but those after a 'healthier' option won’t be disappointed.
The Butcher Shop & Grill Cheeseburger The great-value cheeseburger scored highly in terms of quality: the patty was thick, tender and flavoursome, and cooked to our requirements (we’d expect nothing less from a dedicated steakhouse). The toasted bun remained structurally sound to hold the tomato, lettuce, onion and cheese, though we sliced it in half for ease of consumption.
Mess factor: 4/5 Overall: 5/5 Dhs46. The Walk at JBR (04 428 1375). Other locations: Mall of the Emirates (04 347 1167), Mirdif City Centre (04 284 0740).
Wild Peeta Chicken Shawarma Burger Touting itself as gourmet fast food, the chicken shawarma burger isn’t really what we consider a burger. Basically it’s a donner kebab in a cheap bap, with radioactive cheese and a heap of tasteless extras. More expensive than its backstreet equivalents due to its ‘no junk’ philosophy on sourcing ingredients, with dry chicken and no apparent evidence of anything approaching health food (beetroot in a sugary white bun isn’t balanced nutrition in our book), we fail to see why you’d pay a premium for this type of food.
Mess factor: 4/5 Overall: 2/5 Dhs25. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Saeed Hall (055 8957672).
Dhs50-99 Barasti Barasti Burger This sizeable burger was served in a large, soft bap that made it all the easier to pick up (though not quite as easy to fit our mouth around). The beef patty itself was generous in size, though in spite of our requests for it to be cooked medium, it wasn’t as flavourful as its appearance suggested. On the plus side, the tomato relish was tasty, as were the accompanying curly fries.
Mess factor: 2.5/5 Overall: 2.5/5 Dhs85. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort, Dubai Marina (04 399 3333).
Belgian Beer Café Cheeseburger Such is this establishment’s dedication to Flemish fare, burgers aren’t even on the menu (but are available on request). Their innocuous presence at BBC might explain why the kitchen neglected to encase their burgers in fresh bread buns. However, in spite of falling at the first hurdle, the dish regained some dignity thanks to the quality meat patty, which was cooked medium as requested. The burger was accompanied by a token lettuce leaf and tomato slice, as well as some commendable chunky fries.
Mess factor: 2/5 Overall: 2/5 Dhs70 (with a side of fries). Belgian Beer Café, Grand Millennium Hotel, TECOM (04 429 9999).
Bidi Bondi Mini Angus beef burgers The minimum number of mini burgers you can order here is eight – it may seem overwhelming, but it’s a perfectly achievable feat for a large, hungry man. Served on mini toasted buns, the patties themselves were simply seasoned and, to their credit, tasted home-made. The fact that each burger was so small meant there was little room for packing in too many extra ingredients, so the red onion, gherkins and sliver of cheese were allowed to complement each other perfectly.
Mess factor: 1/5 Overall: 4/5 Dhs75 for eight, Dhs110 for 12, Dhs170 for 18. Shoreline Apartments, Palm Jumeirah (04 427 0515).
The Burger Joint El Pollo Loco On paper, this ‘TBJ Rockstar’ burger sounds pretty appealing, with spicy crispy fried chicken fillet, baby gem lettuce, sun-dried tomatoes, cheddar cheese, turkey bacon and pesto mayonnaise. In reality, however, there’s little to actually go loco about – no spice, the chicken’s rather tasteless and the bacon overpowers any of the potentially more ‘refined’ flavours of the sun-dried tomatoes and pesto. It’s a big ‘un though, so if you’re famished after a day at Aquaventure (and just want to fill up), tuck in.
Jones the Grocer Jones Wagyu Burger Simply outstanding. The wagyu burger was juicy and not at all oily, while the wonderfully sweet and soft brioche bun was a great foil for the salty veal bacon. We opted for caramelised onions, which further accentuated the sweetness of the bread. Green salad added a slight crunch without taking away from the stronger flavours.
Little More Little More Burger The big burger, wrapped in a sizeable sesame bun, was served with four little pots: ketchup, mayo, mustard and fried onions. It tasted fantastic – our only quibble was that we felt uncomfortably full afterwards (reminder: you don’t have to eat it all!). Tip: ask for it cooked medium to well-done; we’ve ordered medium before and it arrived too greasy.
Mess factor: 0.5/5
Nezesaussi Queenslander Beef Burger The type of sandwich you would expect from a rugby-themed sports bar; thick, juicy burger with man-sized toppings of gorgonzola cheese, bacon, mushroom and pickles, served in a soft, sweet, not-so-manly-but-ever-so-delicious bun. The only criticism is that it was topped with slightly too much cheese.
Nezesaussi Waikato Lamb Burger New Zealand, of course, is famous for its lamb, and the lamb burger at Nezesaussi more than lived up to that fame. It was so filled with the flavour of the meat that the burger actually tasted more like a lamb chop. It combined surprisingly well with the goat’s cheese and tomato aïoli.
Ribs & Rumps Rib meat Burger The chef’s speciality burger offered a great alternative to a standard patty, tasting more like a steak sandwich. The generous chunk of beef rib was a little fatty, although this did add extra flavour, and the barbecue sauce made a nice mess of our fingers as it oozed out of the toasted sesame bun. Unfortunately, the accompanying fries were a letdown.
Ribs & Rumps Wagyu Burger After forking out a little extra cash for the wagyu burger, we were impressed with the quality and flavour of the meat, although it was rather overcooked – we’d asked for ‘medium’, but there was no pinkness in sight. Luckily, the juicy baste added moisture, and the lightly toasted bun held everything together.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House Ruth’s Bistro burger A soft, white sesame-topped bun, a beautifully seasoned patty and a scattering of salad (lettuce, tomato, onion, gherkin) combined for a fantastic-tasting burger that was less gluttonous than some – it was fairly diminutive, making it much easier to eat. We loved the accompanying apple coleslaw.
Mess factor: 2/5 Overall: 4.5/5 Dhs75 (served at lunchtime only, and as part of the all-day bar menu at The Address). The Address Dubai Marina (04 454 9538). Other location: The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 501 8666).
St Maxim’s Wagyu Burger The Australian wagyu burger at this French-style steakhouse was surprisingly indulgent, boasting a tender, flavoursome patty nestled in a toasted bun, with lettuce, tomato, pickles and tangy relish, and served with fries and crispy onion rings. When we bit into it, the juices oozed out through the bread, making an enjoyable mess.
Mess factor: 4/5 Overall: 3.5/5 Dhs80. Mall of the Emirates (04 341 3415).
Hard Rock Café Legendary 10oz Burger This burger is apparently ‘legendary’ – perhaps for its calorific content (1,551, according to the Hard Rock New York menu). The beef was well cooked to order, but overpowered by slabs of uninventive toppings; a huge onion ring, double beef bacon (too crispy) and double slices of a radioactive-looking cheddar, stuck between a disappointingly stale bun. Meanwhile, salad was optional, so it was easy to avoid any concession to health.
Mess factor: 2/5 Overall: 2.5/5 Dhs59. Dubai Festival City (04 399 2888).
Grand Grill Beef Burger Presented in a crumbly, almost stale sesame bun, this burger is a surprising disappointment from the South African steakhouse. Inside, the patty is homemade, but any effort that may have been put into seasoning is wasted by a sweet, sticky barbecue sauce that each burger arrives basted in, and in addition makes it all but impossible to discern any flavour from the meat itself. Order it with cheese, and you may be alarmed to find two flaccid, ‘plastic’ square slices within.
Mess factor: 2/5 Overall: 2/5 Dhs65. The Grand Grill, Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 399 5000).
The Meat Co Cheeseburger From the list of five burgers, we chose the small-sized cheeseburger with lettuce, onion, tomato and relish. The meat was flame-grilled and served pink in the middle for maximum juiciness, as per our request. You can also pay Dhs12 extra to add a sauce: we chose creamy mushroom for an indulgent treat.
Mess factor: 3/5 Overall: 4/5 Dhs60 for 200g. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 420 0737). Other location: Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 368 6040).
Wavebreaker Hilton’s Burger There was an earthy quality to this signature, home-made-style burger. The decent meat was served to order, with ample cheese and beef bacon in a fresh sesame bun – the only oddity was the wrinkly, stale salad below the beef. Served al-fresco on the beach, there was a freshness and zing to the finished product that we loved.
Mess factor: 3/5 Overall: 4/5 Dhs85. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, The Walk at JBR (04 399 1111).
Dhs100-199 Gaucho Gaucho Burger The high-end Argentinian hotspot’s signature burger was served open on the plate, with a crusty sesame bun top on the side. The beef patty was thick and juicy, and the meat was high quality; we’d recommend requesting it to be cooked medium rare to medium. The simple burger was served with lettuce and an option of tomato and portobello mushrooms. The only issue we found was that because the meat was so juicy, the bottom bun soaked up the juices and had a tendency to fall apart and become soggy. aïoli
Manhattan Grill Wagyu burger What a beast: this huge, pricey wagyu burger was crammed with veal bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, tomato, lettuce and onion, plus the fattest patty we’ve ever laid eyes on. Unfortunately, the multitude of fillings was a step too far and made it difficult to make out any individual flavour. After spilling most of it down our shirt, we reverted to deconstructing the burger and eating the meat with a knife and fork.
Rhodes Twenty10 Rhodes Twenty10 burger Purists beware: Gary Rhodes’ foie gras fillet-steak burger is served – gasp – without a bun. In its place was a slice of roast confit potato, topped with the most flavoursome, tender patty we’d ever tasted (it’s made with minced steak), rounded off with a succulent chunk of beautifully wobbly foie gras. The rich, meaty devilled sauce made an ideal accompaniment – it’s just a shame the price made our bank manager cry.
Mess factor: 1/5 Overall: 5/5 Dhs165. Le Royal Méridien, Dubai Marina (04 316 5550).
The Rib Room Wagyu burger This high-end burger weighed in at an eye-watering Dhs110 without any of the additional extras (there’s a foie gras option should you wish to shell out more). The quality reflected the price, with a fresh bun, mature cheddar, crisp salad and meat cooked exactly as requested. However, we found the wagyu beef’s refined texture too smooth, and wondered whether a more authentic and grittier consistency would suit this staple comfort food better.
Dhs200+ At.mosphere Lounge Wagyu beef sliders This trio of mini burgers features on the menu of bar food sharing plates and is in fact the only burger option served in either the Lounge or Grill. The three neat bites of juicy beef were served with fresh rocket leaves, with a touch of chilli heat to add an extra dimension. Even so, they were fairly greasy, and pretty pricey at that.
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Daniel Nov 08, 2012 03:01 pm
You have without a doubt missed the city's best burger! Those of us that really know the city will guarantee that the burger at Harvesters in the Crown Plaza on SZR is the fairest of them all and has been for years!
Peter Nov 01, 2012 01:39 pm
If you test Burger Places you should order the same Burger everywhere (that is a simple cheeseburger) to be able to make a fair comparism!!