The 11 Best Burgers in Cleveland

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Photo of Laura Dorwart
29 May 2018

Cleveland is famous for its thick, juicy burgers, especially creative versions of the classic. There are so many great burgers in this beef-obsessed city that it’s hard to pick just 11 favorites, but we’ve narrowed it down to an eclectic list that includes dive-bar standbys, trendy artisanal patties with quirky toppings, and upscale options for date night.

Dynomite Burgers

Restaurant, American
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Dynomite Burgers is a casual walk-up hamburger joint in Playhouse Square, Cleveland’s theatre district. In addition to creative, artisanal takes on some of the city’s best burgers from chef Zack Bruell, the menu offers vegan options (including a vegan burger and vegan chili), pickled veggies, chili cheese fries, sandwiches, salads, beer, wine, and milkshakes. Try the Chinato burger, with balsamic onions, mozzarella, and salami, or the Cowell & Hubbard burger, topped with smoked paprika caramelized onions and sherry vinegar.

Brown Bag Burgers

Restaurant, American, Fast Food
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Often named the home of one of the best burgers in the Cleveland area, Brown Bag Burgers offers up affordable, traditional cheeseburgers and fries in an unassuming casual atmosphere. The buns are especially to die for, while the patties are fresh and grilled to your liking. In addition to build-your-own options and classic burgers, the menu includes the Mexican-inspired Bandito Burger (smothered in guacamole), a shrimp burger with garlic mayo and bruschetta, and Foo Foo Fries topped with nacho cheese, jalapenos, and chili.

Meal service:

Dinner, Lunch

Atmosphere:

Casual, Fast Casual, Family Friendly, Relaxed

Johnny's Little Bar

Creperie, American
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Johnny’s Little Bar, tucked away in an alley in Cleveland’s Warehouse District, has the cozy feel of a speakeasy and the food of an upscale bar. The menu is simple, with salads and much-loved mozzarella sticks, but the real gems are the “world famous” Little Bar Burgers. Juicy and flame-broiled on the grill, the burgers at Johnny’s are the real deal and can be topped with bleu cheese, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, or bacon. But most diners say they don’t need anything at all.

Meal service:

Dinner, Late Night, Lunch

Atmosphere:

Casual, Traditional, Relaxed

Bearden's

Diner, American
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At this old-school diner in Rocky River, Ohio, you can watch a toy train rolling around the ceiling while you chow down on nostalgic, retro dishes. A local favorite eatery established in 1948, Bearden’s is famous for thick steakburgers on butter toasted buns paired with onion rings or fries and specialties including the Peanutburger (a classic burger topped with melted peanut butter and sweet pickles). Or, if you’re really hungry, try the Big Bear: a double patty on tiered buns with all the fixings.

Betty's Bomb Ass Burgers

Restaurant, American, Vegan
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Betty’s Bomb Ass Burgers, a female-owned and operated food truck, is run by Cleveland’s self-described “Burger Queens.” They’ve earned their title, serving up some of the city’s most offbeat, creative burgers. Alongside poutine and cheesy tater tots, Betty’s Bomb Ass Burgers include the Harlow—smoked avocado creme, pickled jalapeno, braised boar, and chihuahua cheese—and the Boeing Fortress, with chunky peanut butter, cheddar, habanero jelly, and sliced foie gras. The Burger Queens inspire long lines, so get there early!

The Greenhouse Tavern

Gastropub, Restaurant, American, $$$
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Veggie burger | © Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

The Greenhouse Tavern is a trendy hotspot for craft cocktails, locally sourced foods, and new American eats in downtown Cleveland. It’s perhaps best known for its unique lamb burger, topped with stinky cheese fondue, tangy yogurt, and champagne shallot mignonette. Vegetarians also flock here for the top-notch veggie burger, topped with aged cheddar cheese, crafted from brown rice, beets, and beans, and served alongside a homemade pickle. The traditional burger at the Greenhouse Tavern, meanwhile, is made with Ohio’s Only certified Angus beef and topped with raclette cheese.

Meal service:

Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, All Day

Atmosphere:

Gourmet, Modern, Stylish, Nightlife

B Spot

Restaurant, American, $$$
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B Spot Burgers is a Cleveland-based chain (since gone national!) headed by celebrity chef Michael Symon. B Spot’s burgers have been voted “best burgers in America” four times by the SOBE Burger Bash. The hipster-industrial eatery offers a supercharged, upscale dining experience, with craft beers, a wide selection of high-quality bourbons, and creative milkshakes along with a lengthy burger menu. Some quirky favorites include the Fat Doug (with coleslaw, pastrami, mustard, and swiss cheese) and the Porky (with Cleveland barbecue sauce and pulled pork). The Thin Lizzy, made with the plant-based Impossible Burger, is an option for vegan and vegetarian diners.

Heck's Cafe

Cafe, Restaurant, American, $$$
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Heck’s Cafe has two locations – one in a renovated 120-year-old townhouse in Ohio City and another in a refurbished warehouse in Avon Lake. Known for farm-to-table dining and gourmet burgers made with grass-fed Ohio beef and a special blend of Heck’s seasonings served on brioche buns, Heck’s Cafe also has one of the best brunches in Cleveland and plenty of healthy options. For a locally-sourced treat, order the Ohio City burger, topped with a variety of herbs, local mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese. Or, to indulge, try the BrieBerry Burger, with brie cheese, bacon, and blueberry-ancho sauce. Salmon burgers, a tasty veggie burger, and a Greek burger made with gyro meat are also on offer at Heck’s.

Hodge's

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Hodge’s, a spacious modern American restaurant in downtown Cleveland run by a former food truck owner, is best-known for whipping up fun takes on traditional comfort food. The Hodge burger is a whopper of a dish, with bacon, Bibb lettuce, dill Havarti cheese, onion and bacon jam, and rosemary aioli. The burger is paired with crispy tater tots that diners rave about. There’s also a generous wine menu and lots of handcrafted cocktails to get the night going.

Eastland Inn

Gastropub, American, $$$
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In the small college town of Berea, OH, the Eastland Inn is a dining mainstay, serving as both an all-American gastropub with great food and drinks and a fun nightlife spot. The chargrilled burgers here are one of the restaurant’s main draws. You can build your own burger with the traditional toppings or more eclectic options such as fried eggs, jalapenos, Cajun spice, crumbled bleu cheese, and sour cream. The Eastland Inn also offers a signature burger with salami, provolone cheese, and Italian dressing, a veggie burger, and a Cleveland favorite – the patty melt.

Meal service:

Late Night, Dinner, Lunch

Atmosphere:

Cosy, Casual, Family Friendly

Tremont Taphouse

Gastropub, American, $$$
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Tremont Taphouse is Cleveland’s first gastropub (located, of course, in Tremont, Cleveland’s trendiest neighborhood), well known for its wide selection of over 100 craft beers. But its massive burgers, paired with hand-cut fries, are nothing to scoff at either. Try one of four signature Tremont Taphouse signature burgers: the Joshua, with bacon, smoked cheddar, and a variety of secret house sauces; the Bleu Burger, with Roth Kase buttermilk bleu cheese and caramelized onions; the Green Chili Burger, topped with pepper jack cheese, jalapeno aioli, and crispy shallots; or the house special, which varies depending on the night and season.