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We want to take you behind the scenes, to give you insider information you won't find anywhere else. This is where we pull Bloomington's hip happenings together with recommendations from our team, first-hand accounts from project producers, and guest blogs by local gurus.  The Backstage Blog helps you stay in front of it all.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Bloomington's Best Burgers

Categories: General, Wine & Culinary

There's nothing quite like a juicy burger. Whether you're craving a classic cheeseburger, a vegan patty, or an out-of-the-box creation, Bloomington offers them all. You won't be disappointed in the range of flavors and the wealth of restaurants that offer the famous American sandwich in the area — in fact, each burger joint's creations sound so delicious, you'll want to try them all!
 

Big Woods Bloomington

Burger from Big Woods Bloomington

Big Woods offers four incredible burgers on their menu: the Brew Burger, Go Big Burger, Spicy Bacon Ranch Burger, and Candied Bacon Bomb Burger.

  • The Brew Burger // Hand-pressed ground beef patty, arugula, tomato, onion, pickles, and your choice of cheese on a brioche bun.
     
  • The Go Big Burger // Hand-pressed ground beef patty, twice-smoked bacon, pulled pork, caramelized onions, Big Woods sauce, and white cheddar on brioche.
     
  • The Spicy Bacon Ranch Burger // Blackened, hand-pressed ground beef patty, twice-smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese, fresh jalapenos, and peppercorn ranch on brioche.
     
  • The Candied Bacon Bomb Burger // Hand-pressed ground beef patty, house-candied bacon, caramelized onions, garlic aioli, arugula, balsamic glaze, and white cheddar on brioche.

Each creation sounds so incredible that it's nearly impossible to choose just one — and this is only the first restaurant on our list.

Insider Tip: Upgrade your side to the Truffle Parm Fries or Tavern Fries for even more unreal flavor.
 

Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream

Burger from Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream
Photo by Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream

Bub's Burgers serves a traditional cheeseburger, but don't let that deter you from giving it a try. While they offer classic beef burgers with your choice of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, jalapenos, and cheese on their own freshly-made buns, they also offer elk burgers with the same choice of toppings. Elk meat is low in fat, calories, and cholesterol, and it's high in protein — we highly recommend opting for elk rather than beef because the flavor is seriously unreal. 

Bub's also offers a fun food challenge: order (and finish) the "Big Ugly," a one-pound elk or beef burger with your choice of toppings, to have your photo taken and posted in the restaurant for years to come.

Insider Tip: Bub's doesn't only offer some of the best burgers in B-Town; they also serve some of Bloomington's best ice cream! Save room for a hand-dipped milkshake for the complete Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream experience.
 

BuffaLouie's

Sweet Lou burger from BuffaLouie's

BuffaLouie's is known for their insanely delicious chicken wings, but they also serve nearly ten burgers. Customers can choose between two all-beef patties or an Impossible Burger, which is great for those with a plant-based diet. BuffaLouie's offers a classic American cheeseburger, but some creative favorites include:

  • The Shroom 'n' Swiss // Bacon, Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms & onions, and Louie's 87 sauce.
     
  • The Parmigiana // Provolone cheese, marinara, and Italian seasoning.
     
  • The Sweet Lou // Bacon, cheddar cheese, an onion ring, and sweet barbecue sauce.

Insider Tip: Order a side of loaded curly fries or tots — they come smothered in sweet barbecue, bacon, cheddar cheese, and ranch.
 

FARMbloomington

Lugar Burger from FARMbloomington
Photo by FARMbloomington

FARMbloomington offers two burgers, one of which has been named the Best Burger in Indiana by Food Network Magazine. The award-winning Lugar Burger includes a bison patty seasoned with FARM's Columbus Cowboy rub, potato salad, lettuce, onion, tomato, and kosher dill pickles on a brioche bun. It's a burger you're not likely to find anywhere else!

While the Hoosier Legacy Beef Burger doesn't have any accolades, it's just as delicious. The burger is assembled with a beef patty, cheddar cheese, pickled red onions, tomato & bacon jam, potato salad, lettuce, onion, tomato, and kosher dill pickles on brioche.

Insider Tip: You can't leave FARM without ordering a bowl of FARMFamous Garlic Fries. Their signature French fries are seasoned with parmesan, garlic, herbs, chili flakes, and lemon zest, paired with a turmeric aioli.
 

Fat Dan's Chicago-Style Deli

Wake 'n' Bake Burger from Fat Dan's Chicago-Style Deli
Photo by Fat Dan's Chicago-Style Deli

Fat Dan's is a Chicago-style deli that serves nearly 15 insanely creative burgers. While they do offer a good 'ole American-style burger, everything else on the menu is extremely unique. Just a few of their burger concoctions include:

  • The North Ave. Fat Burger // Teriyaki glaze, Swiss cheese, and sautéed mushrooms. 
     
  • The Fat Havana Burger // Smoked pork, smoked maple ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, Goya mojo, and yellow mustard.
     
  • The Wake 'n' Bake // Smoked bacon, smoked maple ham, smashed tater tots, American cheese, a fried egg, and a butter-brushed bun. 
     
  • The Gobble Gobble // Ground turkey patty, provolone cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and honey Dijon mustard.
     
  • The Not-so-Fat Veggie Burger // Veggie patty, avocado, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, shredded carrots, and honey Dijon.

For those who are indecisive because every burger on the menu sounds so ridiculously good, the restaurant also offers burger flights with your choice of three sliders. 

Insider Tip: Order the Dirty Tots (tots with smoked pork, scallions, cheese sauce, and Fat Dan's hot sauce) or the IPA Beer Cheese Fries (fries with smoked bacon, IPA beer cheese, bleu cheese crumbles, and scallions) to complete your flavor-packed meal.
 

Hinkle's Hamburgers

Double Hinkle with cheese from Hinkle's

Hinkle's Hamburgers is Bloomington's no fuss, no frills burger joint. Serving the community since 1930, Hinkle's is that hole-in-the-wall establishment you want to find in every town you visit. Their burger selection is extremely simple: the Hinkle burger, the Hinkle burger with cheese, the double Hinkle, and the double Hinkle with cheese.

All meat is grinded in-house on a daily basis. King of cheap lunches, the Hinkle burger rings in at the low price of $2.49, and the double Hinkle with cheese comes out to be a whopping $4.89.

Insider Tip: Save room for one of Hinkle's hand-dipped milkshakes — flavors include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, raspberry, and cherry.
 

Hive

Smashburger from Hive
Photo by Hive

Hive now serves four mouth-wateringly delicious smashburgers:

  • The Hive Burger // A single or double smash-patty with pickles, grilled onions, and American cheese.
     
  • The Fried Egg Burger // The Hive Burger + a fried egg.
     
  • The Bacon Burger // The Hive Burger + bacon.
     
  • The Deluxe // The Hive Burger + shredded lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mayo, and mustard.

Between Hinkle's and Hive, there's no reason to visit Steak 'n' Shake ever again — the B-Town businesses serve the same style of burger, but so much better.

Insider Tip: Order a side of Hive's fries. They're crunchy on the outside, pillowy on the inside, and seasoned with a delicious spice blend.
 

The Tap 

Turkey Burger from The Tap
Photo by The Tap

The Tap is known for their enormously robust beer selection (they serve over 400 brews), but their food is not to be underestimated. Everything on the menu is delicious, but the burgers in particular are something special. They serve six different burgers:

  • The Beer Cheese Burger // Half a pound of premium beef, smothered with house-made beer cheese and topped with Applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and red onion on a brioche bun.
     
  • The Mac 'n' Cheese Burger // The Beer Cheese Burger + mac 'n' beer cheese.
     
  • The Black & Bleu Bison Burger // A blackened bison patty, melted bleu cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion on brioche.
     
  • The Black Bean Burger // A black bean patty, lettuce, tomato, red onion, fresh guacamole, sun-dried tomato aioli, and cilantro cream sauce on brioche.
     
  • The Angus Slider // Angus beef, Brie cheese, and bourbon bacon jam on a pretzel bun. 
     
  • The Sriracha Turkey Burger // A ground turkey patty, chimichurri sauce, white cheddar cheese, red onions, pickled jalapenos, tortilla strips, and sriracha aioli on a brioche bun.

Insider Tip: The Tap serves their famous Tap Fries with every burger. The side of fries includes their parmesan garlic aioli, but you should request the other three dipping sauces that come with the appetizer version of the fries: beer cheese, sun-dried tomato pesto crema, and chipotle ranch.
 

Upland Brewpub 

Burger, fries, and beer from Upland Brewpub
Photo by Upland Brewpub

Upland is Bloomington's most well-known brewery. Their hand-crafted beers are what landed them on the map, but their food is a force to be reckoned with as well. Their menu includes seven burgers with the choice of a beef, bison, veggie, or Impossible Burger patty:

  • The Classic Burger // Lettuce, tomato, onion, and your choice of cheese.
     
  • The Bad Elmer's Fav Burger // Sharp cheddar, Applewood-peppered bacon, house-made Bad Elmer's Porter barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion. 
     
  • The Blue Flame Burger // Bleu cheese jalapeno spread, lettuce, tomato, and onion.
     
  • The Inferno Burger // Jalapeno pepper jack cheese, banana peppers, house-made Campside habanero sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion.
     
  • The Beer Cheese Burger // Applewood-peppered bacon, house-made Dragonfly IPA cheese, and grilled onions.
     
  • The Sweet Plum Burger // Smoked gouda, Applewood-peppered bacon, arugula, and sweet plum.
     
  • The Million Dollars Burger // Crispy onion strings, Swiss cheese, and house-made Champagne Velvet special sauce. 

Insider Tip: Upland's Brewery Fries are some of the best French fries in Bloomington. They're beer-battered, fried to a crisp golden brown, and super silky on the inside.
 

Yogi's Bar & Grill

Burger and waffle fries from Yogi's Bar & Grill
Photo by Yogi's Bar & Grill

Yogi's, like Nick's, is an Indiana University rite of passage. The restaurant is decked out in Hoosier fanfare and trendy art, making it a seriously cool space. Even better than their decor is their burger selection — they offer four burgers, all served on a brioche bun with your choice of lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles:

  • The Yogi's Cheeseburger // A premium beef patty covered with your choice of cheese.
     
  • The Smash Burger // Two smash-patties, American cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and spicy yo sauce.
     
  • The Fried Dorito Smash Burger // Two smash-patties grilled with Cool Ranch Dorito mozzarella cheese in between, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and Cajun ranch.
     
  • The No More Mr. Rice Guy // A veggie burger made with grains and vegetables, topped with fresh guacamole.

If you've made it to the end without gnawing your arm off, we're sure the Fried Dorito Smash Burger just put you over the edge. 

Insider Tip: A burger is but half of a whole without fries, which is why you should order Yogi's Fry Flight with your burg of choice. Enjoy a sampler of tater tots, sweet potato fries, buffalo chips, and waffle fries with sriracha ketchup, maple aioli, yo sauce, and Cajun ranch.


Looking for more of Bloomington's best food? Check out the following blogs:

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa is the Digital Content Coordinator at Visit Bloomington. She's a proud Indiana University alumna, mom to four cats, and Formula 1 enthusiast. When she isn't at work, you can find Alyssa checking out the newest restaurants in the area with her husband, curled up at home with a great book, or planning her next trip to a destination near or far.

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