In Search Of The Perfect Burger

What makes a perfect burger? There may be as many answers as there are burger enthusiasts.

By Sarah Shemkus | Photography by Dan Cutrona

For the purists, it might be a thick, juicy patty fire-grilled to a rosy medium-rare, topped with only a slather of ketchup. The epicure, on the other hand, might look for something a little different: bacon jam or housemade sriracha aioli, perhaps. A traditionalist might want to dig his teeth into a towering stack of beef, bacon and sharp cheddar cheese (with crispy fries on the side, of course).
Indeed, there is no such thing as the one ideal burger. Finding that superlative sandwich is truly an individual quest. Thankfully, Cape Cod offers dozens of options for the diner in search of burger bliss. We’ve gathered just a few of our favorites here to help you kick off the hunt.

FLYNN’S IRISH PUB

With Gaelic décor, live Irish music and a warm ambiance, Flynn’s embodies a true Irish pub experience. Its burger menu, however, serves up truly American levels of extravagance. Skim past the few basic burgers at the top of the list and you will soon be contemplating toppings like bacon aioli, fried eggs and even peanut butter and jam. For a hybrid of the Irish and the American, try the Belfast, a burger crowned with Murphy’s stout-braised pulled pork.

119 Cranberry Highway, Sagamore
508-833-8626, gotoflynns.com

RED NUN BAR & GRILL

A longtime Chatham institution, the Red Nun opened a second—instantly successful—location in newly revitalized downtown Dennisport two years ago. Both spots are big hits with locals who respond to the affordable prices, low-key atmosphere, and, of course, the award-winning burgers. The base of every burger is seven ounces of Angus beef served on an oversized English muffin. Topping options range from the classic to the exotic (the Thai-flavored option, for example), but we recommend keeping it old-school with the bacon-and-blue-cheese-trimmed B&B.

746 Main St., Chatham, 508-348-0469;
673 Main St., Dennisport, 508-394-BUOY
rednun.com

EMBARGO

If Flynn’s burger menu goes to indulgent extremes, Embargo’s offering demonstrates the virtues of a more restrained approach. This martini and tapas bar brings a touch of urban style to downtown Hyannis, serving an extensive cocktail list and a range of fun and tasty small plates. One of the most popular—and a must-try for those seeking the Cape’s best burger—is a pair of petite Kobe beef sliders, topped with chipotle ketchup, pickled onions and crispy bacon.

If Flynn’s burger menu goes to indulgent extremes, Embargo’s offering demonstrates the virtues of a more restrained approach. This martini and tapas bar brings a touch of urban style to downtown Hyannis, serving an extensive cocktail list and a range of fun and tasty small plates. One of the most popular—and a must-try for those seeking the Cape’s best burger—is a pair of petite Kobe beef sliders, topped with chipotle ketchup, pickled onions and crispy bacon.

453 Main St, Hyannis
508-771-9700, embargorestaurant.com

LOCAL 186

This eatery on the very end of Cape Cod is the ideal destination for diners who really care about their meat. The burger-driven restaurant boasts high-end meat sourced from farms that are listed on the menu—beef from Painted Hills farm, lamb from Niman Ranch—and accompanied by local seafood and salad options. Burgers can be embellished with housemade accoutrements like black truffle aioli, guacamole, and feta tzatziki, but if you’re feeling like a purist, try ordering the Basic to let the painstakingly selected meat shine through.

186 Commercial St., Provincetown
508-487-7555, local186.com

THE KNACK

One of the newest entrants onto the Cape burger scene, The Knack is owned by a pair of brothers who grew up in the restaurant business on the Cape and are now attempting to put a modern twist on the old family trade. The menu is based on classic Cape Cod casual fare—onion rings, lobster rolls and milkshakes all have their place—but the burgers are the real stars. The meat is sourced from nearby Nauset Farms and the toppings range from traditional basics to more gourmet formulations. Particularly popular is the Pickle and Spice burger (emphasis on the spice), which is decked out with pickled red onions, housemade pickles, roasted jalapeno and spicy mayo.

5 Route 6A, Orleans
info@theknack.com
theknackcapecod.com

LOCAL BREAK

Behind an unassuming storefront along the Lower Cape’s busy Route 6 sits a new gastropub that is winning praise from locals and out-of-towners alike. The eatery has the cozy charm of a local hangout, but offers an elevated level of pub fare certain to please even those with more gourmet tastes. The burger selection is limited, but never fear—you really don’t need to look beyond the House Burger, a patty made of ground short rib and chuck, topped with cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, house relish and bacon-inflected mayo, all served on a fresh brioche bun.

550 State Highway, Eastham
508-255-6100
local-break.com

QUAHOG REPUBLIC DIVE BAR

Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to pronounce “quahog” (it’s KOH-hog, in case you were wondering)—there’s no special vocabulary required to order one of this Falmouth eatery’s creative burgers. The restaurant emphasizes well-executed twists on traditional pub-food classics, with a hearty portion of local seafood thrown in. For burger lovers with a bold palate, we suggest the Island burger, a half-pound beef patty topped with barbecue sauce, caramelized onions, grilled pineapple, applewood smoked bacon and a grilled jumbo shrimp.

97 Spring Bars Road, Falmouth
508-540-4111, quahogrepublic.com


OTHER PLACES TO TRY

Still not burger-sated? Here are a few more spots you can check out:

JD’s Burger Company:

JD’s has a broad perspective on burgers, with turkey, chicken, pork and salmon options joining traditional beef on the menu. Perfect for grabbing dinner before a movie.

280 Route 130, Heritage Plaza, Sandwich,
774-413-5701, jdsburgercompany.com

Black Sheep Bah and Grill:

Head to this out-of-the-way spot on Route 6A on Sunday for Burger Day, when the menu includes 25 different topping variations.

720 Route 6A, Yarmouth Port,
508-362-5004, blacksheepbah.com

Lost Dog Pub:

Find yourself in the perfect pub atmosphere for a classic burger-and-beer combo at the Lost Dog.

1374 Route 134, East Dennis, 508-385-6177,
63 Route 6A Orleans, 508-240-3647, lostdogpubs.com

Rock Harbor Grill:

The basic burger at this laid-back eatery features three kinds of beef—chuck,
brisket and short rib—topped with pickled red onions and accompanied with truffle fries.

18 Old Colony Way, Orleans,
508-255-3350, rockharborgrill.net

Pain D’Avignon:

This acclaimed bakery-café has just one burger on the menu, but with maple-smoked cheddar and a freshly baked brioche bun, who needs more options?

15 Hinckley Road, Hyannis,
508-778-8588, paindavignon.com

Brax Landing:

Grab a seat on the deck overlooking Saquatucket Harbor and enjoy one of the most scenic burger experiences available on Cape Cod. Options range from the basic beef-and-cheese to more adventurous choices topped with flavors like avocado and wasabi mayo.

705 Route 28, Harwichport,
508-432-5515, braxlanding.com

Black Cat Tavern:

With burger choices named after Barnstable neighborhoods—the Hyport boasts boursin and caramelized onions, the Osterville is topped with fried oysters—this waterfront restaurant is a local favorite.

165 Ocean St., Hyannis,
508-778-1233, blackcattavern.com

Do you dare? If you truly want to break burger boundaries, forget the fancy cheeses and aiolis and head to South Yarmouth during a Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox baseball game, part of the summer Cape Cod Baseball League. At the concession stand, ask for a Hurler, then wait patiently to be handed a beef patty topped with canned cheese and sandwiched inside a jelly doughnut. Fans say the jelly-and-cheese combo is a unique delight. We’ll let you decide for yourself.
Red Wilson Field, 210 Station Ave., South Yarmouth, ydredsox.com

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