There is no other food quite like it. Nothing feels the same as biting into a blessed hunk of burg, juice dripping down your chin, cheese oozing out of a pillowy bun. Burgers are comfort food at its best, and they hold a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of eaters worldwide.
Three, perhaps four years ago, Aucklanders started to take note of the potential held within the glorious burger, in dripping sauces, melting cheeses, and a prime B2B (beef to bun) ratio. That led to a proliferation of burger joints, first in the city centre, then out to neighbourhoods and 'burbs' Supercity-wide.
Today we're blessed with countless establishments who take their burgers seriously. And serious burgers deserve attention, so we enlisted a team of self-described 'burger experts' (one man and his appetite) to scour the city with the ultimate mission of finding the best in Auckland.
If you've got a craving, hankering or hangover that can only be satiated by two curvaceous buns and a bounty of flavourful fillings, then the following establishments are your best bet. This is a definitive guide to the best burger joints in Auckland.
Technically The Bearded Clam isn't a burger 'joint' as it doesn't actually have a permanent home, but the food is so downright dirty, delicious and delectable it has to be included. Two lads with a passion for fine burgers - Adam Crickett and Ryan Kneebone - are behind TBC. It started out with a pop-up at Laneway before taking over the kitchens at both the Late Night Diner and Goodness Gracious.
Their creations are a perfect mix of high quality, homemade 100% beef patties and custom baked semi-brioche buns— capturing the perfect beef to bun ratio— and dirty additions like pre-sliced American cheese and Best Foods mayo. Our favourite is the brisket chilli cheeseburger, a saucy and spicy mess of a thing, packed with huge flavours and featuring an astronomical calorie count.
The menu changes frequently and so does the location, so keep an eye out on the TBC Facebook page and track them down soon. You won't regret it.
Big J's is a two-time winner of Concrete Playground's best burger round-up, and with good reason. This humble takeaway shop in the heart of Mt Wellington has long impressed with its down to earth yet irresistible burgers, from their reliable regular menu to their incomparable weekly specials. Our favourite day-to-day burger is the beef and sautéed mushrooms— it's big, juicy and effective with well-executed simplicity. Everything on the everyday menu features big flavours, and perfectly seasoned patties guaranteed to drip all over your hands as you devour them.
The special burgers are another story though. These bad boys are the ultimate in outlandish burger experimentation. A recent favourite is the 'Plum Outta Luck', which features, garlic and herb marinated steak with sautéed onions, grilled streaky bacon, creamy camembert cheese, roasted garlic aioli and plum and tamarillo chutney all topped with wood-fired BBQ crisps. It's ridiculous and it's unnecessary but by jove is it delicious.
New Zealand's answer to cult burger joint In-N-Out, doesn't mess about. There are only four burgers on the menu at Better Burger: hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger and a vege-burger that features a massive juicy mushroom patty. But that isn't a bad thing. Every burger is a masterclass in delicious simplicity; there aren't any flashy or unexpected ingredients, just good quality locally sourced fare, served fresh and fast.
The double cheeseburger is our go-to, with two 100% pure Angus patties sandwiched between lightly toasted honey buns, topped with special sauce and homemade pickles. It's a classic American cheeseburger served with the best local ingredients.
Each of their two locations are open late, conveniently located close to some of the city's best bars making them the perfect late bite for those looking to soak up the night's libations. Simple burgers done right.
Velvet Burger's website says it was founded after secret burger recipes were discovered on a scroll of parchment hidden in the walls of the Captain Cook Tavern. Legend says they were written by the 17th century discoverer himself, which is a cool story but also totally bogus. This joint was founded by four Scarfies lamenting the lack of good late night eats, and created with the firm belief that it's a rite of passage to enjoy a good drink with a burger. They started in Dunedin where the need for burgers to soak up booze is the greatest, then moved to Christchurch before finally opening up in the big smoke.
The burgers are homemade monstrosities featuring patties that are always crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The ingredients aren't lavish or exotic, but they're reliably fresh and the flavours are always massive and satisfying. Each of the restaurants sport laid back vibes, perhaps helped along by the fact they serve 745ml bit bots of Lion Red. This is undoubtedly the most Kiwi entry on the list and a must try if you're a fan of good beer and great burgers.
BurgerFuel has 88 locations across the globe, spanning New Zealand, Australia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It's a miracle that each branch can still keep the same high standards despite being constantly busy and often-frequented by late night delinquents in search of a greasy feed. The great thing about BurgerFuel is that everytime you go there you know exactly what to expect. I've probably eaten over 100 American Muscle burgers and each one tasted exactly the same— packed with impossibly juicy beef, laden with sweet and sour butter pickles and lathered with house made aioli.
It's the same for the establishment's wide range of chicken burgers, vege burgers and gourmet sides— all of which are created by the thousands everyday, yet still somehow retain the care, attention to detail and high standard more typical with smaller owner-operated joints. Since the flagship Ponsonby store opened in 1995, BurgerFuel has been raising the bar for burger joints in Auckland and we expect they will be for many years to come. It's is the ultimate Kiwi success story, and undoubtedly, the best burger chain in Australasia.
Ravi Thotha has been cooking for many years now, mainly in the kitchens of high-class hotels. Eventually, he decided that he wanted something for himself and brought out The Flaming Onion, creating his vision of the perfect neighbourhood burger joint in the process. His little burger shop in Northcote doesn't look like much, but the food speaks for itself.
The everyday menu features classics done well, like the brilliant beef and cheese with relish, or the grunty steak with lashings of caramelised onion. But what really grabs our attention is the specials menu, which features monstrous creations that impress with their size and decadence. We struggled our way through The Detention— a towering burger packed with two wagyu beef patties, melted swiss cheese, chipotle aioli, manuka smoked bacon, jalapeno relish and you name it. Our second favourite has to be the Pirate Life, a unique creation featuring panko prawns, bacon smoked cheddar and delicious sambal sauce.
Completely devoid of any pretension and featuring a dollar-a-play Street Fighter machine, this is what a neighbourhood burger joint should be like.
Corner Burger on Pah Road is your classic neighbourhood burger joint, with a gourmet twist and an admirable focus on using the best possible ingredients. The new Mt Eden venue brings the same approach to a larger 100 seat venue in the heart of Mt Eden, pouring a range of awesome craft beers. All sauces are made onsite using closely guarded secret recipes, the brisket and pulled pork are slow cooked for over 14 hours, and their chips are cut out of agria potatoes everyday.
The classics menu screams 'homemade' and 'hearty' in the best possible way. Our favourite is the Moroccan spiced lamb with minted coriander pea salsa, and a generous helping of ultra-rich feta. But the Icon burgers are what really sets this place apart. 'That Burger' is a phenomenal creation that has to be considered amongst the best in Auckland, featuring two incredibly juicy beef patties, sour dill pickles and a generous slathering of the most incredible truffle mascarpone. This beast will set you back $20 but it's well worth it.
If the top button on your pants hasn't popped after gorging on one of Corner Burger's beauties, try a Kohu Road shake or one of the immaculate dessert burgers, with flavours like Snickers, and Jaffa all sandwiched between two cronut buns.
A year or so ago when Stephen Lynch was working as a quantity surveyor, he priced up a fitout for the owner of the St Kevin's Arcade. After the owner mentioned his intentions of filling the vacant spaces with owner-operated cafés and restaurants, Stephen realised it was time to quit the nine to five and realise his dream of opening a burger joint. Soon after, he designed and built the place himself, came up with the menu from scratch and began trading.
He's in the shop 70 hours a week and his dedication, impossibly cheerful demeanour and refreshing approach to food is the reason it's been such a great success. The Burger Bar only uses high quality, sustainable local ingredients bought from small suppliers, and literally everything from the patties to sauces are made in-house. To make sure everything is as fresh as can be, they don't even own a freezer and Stephen minces beef and lamb daily.
The result is burgers and fries that taste phenomenal and are surprisingly healthy. The specials change every week but our favourite so far is the beautiful Jamaican burger, led by thyme and pepper smashed kidney beans, jerk marinated chicken thighs, charred capsicum and passionfruit aioli. Other inventive specials include the kimchi burger, with a soy-soaked beef patty, smoked cheese and sweet chilli sour cream. This dude really cares about the food he serves and it shines through on the plate. It's also got 57 local craft beers in the fridge, by far the best beer selection of any burger joint in Auckland.
Burgers infused with traditional Korean flavours are an incredible idea no matter how you look at it. Tiger Burger makes the most of that initial spark of genius by executing Korean fusion burgers to utter perfection, and nothing more so than the beautiful Kimcheese. This incredible thing features a beef patty cooked medium rare (like it should be) below a generous serving of ultra-flavourful kimchi and salty gochujang mayonnaise. It's topped with aged cheddar, which adds a strong cheesy bite, and of course brioche buns that are just as warm and soft as they should be. It's a complete reinvention of the humble cheeseburger, and it's also a considerable improvement. There are only five other burgers on the menu (including the special), as well as a small range of Korean-inspired sides, but each of them are bloody delightful.
All this inside a slick minimalist space in Grey Lynn, with one of the city's best courtyards out back. As great as the space is, it still feels completely relaxed and without pretension. That's mainly thanks to the owners - Esther and Matt - a friendly young couple with no hospitality experience before quitting their day jobs and launching the Tiger Burger food truck. Esther's roots in South Korea bring the Asian flavours to life, helping them to stay true to the real flavours of Korean cuisine by making everything from scratch (including fermenting the kimchi and gochujang). The Kimcheese is our favourite burger in Auckland, that, as it stands, no one can match the all-round brilliance of.
Burger Burger has been unlucky not to be named as the best joint in Auckland every year we've written this list. The company takes the humble burger very seriously, so much so that they had to repeat 'burger' twice in their name, and fight off bureaucrats to retain their signature medium rare patty. Slightly charred brioche buns, locally sourced premium ingredients, snazzy sauces and the perfect example of a B2B ratio bring the burgers to life.
Few burgers in Auckland are as simple but perfectly executed as the beef with cheese. Few are as moreish and rich as the pulled pork. And as far as sides go, the potato skins with truffle oil and aioli are absolutely unbeatable.
As if all that wasn't enough to convince us, they've recently come up with the 'Jazzy Burger' menu that offers an even more satisfying and premium experience. The Big Mat is the far superior version of the McDs classic, and the Moroccan Melt tastes better than a burger ever should with 12-hour smoked lamb, grilled halloumi and red pepper harissa. Each of the three branches in Newmarket, Takapuna and Ponsonby are constantly busy, and led by staff that are far cooler than anyone.
On any given day these legends host the best burger joint experience in Auckland. No one does it like Burger Burger does.
Ponsonby Central // 3B York St, Osborne Lane, Newmarket // 40 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna
Andy's Burgers & Bar
Right in the guts of SkyCity you'll find a massive burger joint decked out in classic old school sports bar decor. It serves basic burgers cooked with care, phenomenal chicken wings and a full range of craft beers. Try the classic beef with cheese.
This Ponsonby institution practically gives its monstrous creations away at only $10 a pop. Look out for The Big Easy— a loaded masterpiece comprising a bacon beef patty, Swiss cheese, bacon jam and a mac 'n' cheese croquette. Together with Italian bakery Il Forno, the chefs have crafted their own custom-baked burger bun, containing 10% potato to create a soft and chewy burger bun experience.
Brand new sour beer brewery and bayside burger joint, Brothers Orakei, is hard pressed not to make the top ten after only a few weeks open. With ex-Clooney and Botanist chef Sara Simpson at the helm, the burgers are homestyle creations with a touch of gourmet flare. Try the pork and mussel along with any of the 18 tap beers on offer.
232 Orakei Road, Orakei
Two Southland lads started this wee burger shack with the goal of providing a relaxed environment and delicious no-fuss burgers to the people of Auckland. The burgers are well priced, well made and most importantly, bloody delicious. Go try them if you're in Takapuna.