Better Burgers

Where to get yours in the South Sound

With access to better produce and meat and a glut of creative cooks and chefs working in restaurants across the region, it seems like there’s never been a better time for the burger. The South Sound is full of options that span the culinary spectrum of the American classic — from simple, greasy gut-bombs to sophisticated sandwiches. Here are some of our favorites.


Flip-N-Out. Photos by Jeff Hobson

Need another retro-style burger hot spot to satiate your craving? Give Flip-N-Out (4008 S. 12th St., Tacoma) a try. Get a classic burger made with 1/2 pound Angus beef patty or try their chili burger, or hand-dipped corn dog! 253.267.7002

You can get a double cheeseburger, fries and a drink at Legendz (1201 S. Sprague Ave., Tacoma) for about $7. The burgers are a dangerously delicious combination of meat, cheese and grease stacked between a fluffy bun. The calorie count for one of these meals is off the charts but who cares, it’s that good. Try the onion rings. 253.572.2510

Burgers aren’t typically a gluten-free item but Friesenburgers (308 E. 26th St Tacoma) has it covered. Friesenburgers has a whole gluten-free menu that includes classics cheeseburgers as well as a cheesy onion burger and a jalapeño and pepper-jack burger. For the non-meat eater, order a glutenfree grilled cheese.

Tatanka Take-Out in Ruston, by the Point Defiance Zoo entrance, is known for its lean, juicy bison burgers. The six different bison burgers (including the BBQ Biso Roast burger) are massive and on the healthier side as far as burgers go. The small and funky-decorated restaurant is full of character. We hear their burritos are good, too.

If you’re looking for variety, eat no further than Blazing Onion at Uptown Gig Harbor. With more than 25 gourmet burgers, including standouts like the meatloaf burger, buffalo burger and wild boar burger and the sweet hickory BBQ burger, Blazing Onion has something to satisfy any meat-eating palate.

Many diners are perfectly satisfied with the quick grab-n-go cheeseburger and fries, but Marrow (2717 6th Ave., Tacoma) takes its burger to another level. Beware of sticker shock ($17) but know that you’ll be getting what you pay for with ingredients like Painted Hills Wagyu, a duck egg, bacon-onion jam, white cheddar and mustard seed aioli on a Corina Bakery bun, served with fingerling potatoes.

Frisko FreezePhoto by Jeff Hobson

Frisko Freeze

Frisko Freeze (1201 Division Ave., Tacoma) has been serving old-fashioned burgers wrapped in wax paper for 60 years. The 1950s-era sign and drive-in building is a Tacoma landmark and the burgers are a local treasure. Try a root beer milk shake with your cheeseburger (or double, or triple) for a real Frisko experience.

Pick-Quick Burgers, a walk-up burger joint with outdoor seating, opened in Fife (4306 Pacific Highway) in 1949, serving burgers and hotdogs. This family-owned business now has a second location in Auburn (1132 Auburn Way N.) with indoor seating. Get the double bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions or go crazy and order a triple cheeseburger. Don’t forget the handcut fries and thick shake made with real ice cream. Blackberry is to die for.

When you think “Argentinean steakhouse,” a burger probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind. While the steak at Asado (2810 6th Ave., Tacoma) may be divine, the Asado Burger with in-house ground sirloin and chorizo, fried provolone, serrano ham, sautéed onions and peppers, poblano aioli, all on a brioche bun packs some serious f lavor.

McMenamins Spar Cafe (114 4th Ave., Olympia) serves several juicy burgers, but one of it’s unexpected offerings is the Hammerhead Garden Burger. Bite into a house-made veggie burger patty made with McMennamin’s own Hammerhead Ale and malted grain, served with lettuce, tomato, red onion and secret sauce on an artisan bun.

El GauchoPhoto by Jeff Hobson

El Gaucho

When it comes to burgers, sometimes it’s fine to go gourmet. The El Gaucho Burger (2119 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) is a half-pound of Certified Angus Beef, Niman Ranch allnatural bacon, pepper jack cheese, chipotle aioli, lettuce, tomato and onion, served with a side of fries. Priced just right at $10 during happy hour.

At Eastside Big Tom (2023 4th Ave. E., Olympia) it’s all about the GOOP — they have actually trademarked that term to describe their burger dressing. Dip your fries, rings or tots in the GOOP, too. Wash it down with a peanut butter shake. Go crazy.

Burger purists need to try the BMC — it stands for bun, meat, cheese — at Out N About Burger (14212 Meridian Ave. E., Puyallup). The BMC includes two handpressed juicy patties and three slices of the melty goodness you crave. Nothing green. Pair it with sweet potato fries. You’re welcome.

Hop Jack's

Hop Jack’s

With locations in Bonney Lake, Lacey, Silverdale and Maple Valley, you don’t have to go too far to taste one of Hop Jack’s delectable burgers. Try the Western with cheddar, bacon, frizzled onions, lettuce, tomato, zippy barbecue sauce and Hop Jack’s spread.

As expected, a place with a name like Dirty Oscar’s Annex (2309 6th Ave., Tacoma) has a burger called the Down & Dirty — a half-pound natural Open Prairie Angus patty with thick-cut hickory bacon, aged white cheddar, caramelized leeks, arugula and roasted garlic aioli on a f lavorful pretzel bun.

Cheap, fast and delicious, Frugals (10727 Pacific Ave. S., Tacoma and 1815 Howard Rd., Auburn), those cute shiny silver drive-thrus, are known for their quarter-pound, value-priced Frugal burger. Their shakes and fries are good, too. And if your dog is in the car, ask for a free doggy treat!

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