Our Editors Draft the Best Burgers in Vancouver

What did we get right? And, more importantly, wrong?

Who makes the best burg in the city? We have some ideas. Good ideas? Arguable, but they are authentic and the result of some epic chowing down.

After our recent pizza draft, we decided that everyone could really use some more comfort food right about now. So, this time around, we’re drafting the comfortiest of them all—burgers. No chicken burgers allowed—that’ll be for another draft, but veggie burgers were welcome.

We put our editors’ names into a random draft simulator (snake style, obviously) and off we went. Be sure to vote for your favourite assemblage of burger talent at the bottom of this page.

And be warned: after reading this post, you will be forced to order burgers tonight. Sorry about that.

Round One

1. Anicka Quin, editorial director: Trans Am

I feel like I measure every single burger against Trans Am. Once again, I need to qualify that I’m gluten free. But theirs is the one burger that was just so good even in a lettuce wrap. It’s just the best patty I think I’ve ever had.

I was also a vegetarian for some 22 years, but it was definitely one of the things that wasn’t letting me turn back when I first discovered it. Here’s hoping it opens back up sooner rather than later.

2. Alyssa Hirose, assistant editor: Hundy

The Hundy burger is a classic. It’s simple and great, and honestly probably the closest thing to a fast food burger that doesn’t feel ridiculously greasy (all those comfort food feels without the meat sweats after). Really well done.

3. Neal McLennan, food editor: DownLow Burgers

I can’t tell you how psyched I am to pick this up at #3 —it was my #1, so there were a few anxious moments as Anicka and Alyssa made their selections. Here’s my burger ethos: you have to be a generous person and a good soul to make a great burger. And Downlow’s proprietors Doug Stephen and Lindsey Mann are the most universally beloved people I know. I’ve never heard someone say a bad word about them, and I’ve never heard them trash talk about anyone else.

The burger itself is all Two Rivers Meats (more on them later) and that costs a swack more than some huge supplier. The bun is from Livia but the prices are all keepin’ it real, all the time. The patty straddles the line between smash and thick and it enables you to get the best of both worlds. Nice and pink, beefy but not all beef all the time. And they way they pack for takeout is the best in town hands down.

4. Nathan Caddell, associate editor: Popina

Speaking of awesome people in Vancouver’s food industry… I first came across Robert Belcham’s genius when I was an idiot 21-year-old who happened to stumble into his old Kits outpost Refuel (now Fable), where I had what has stood the test of time as one of the best burgers of my life.

Sadly, Refuel and Belcham’s next venture, Campagnolo (and its incredible Dirty Burg up the stairs) have both since closed (the latter due to COVID). But thankfully there’s still an outpost for his magic in Granville Island’s Popina. Great view, an incredible smash burger and delicious, spicy fries. Not sure you could ask for more.

Round Two

1. Nathan: Between 2 Buns

I’ve only had this popup once (they usually operate a couple days a week out of either the now-closed Bestie or one of East Van’s breweries), but man it was absolutely delicious. Again, it’s a smash burger, and I’m hoping the folks behind this spot will open up their own location. I’m already carving out time in my schedule to go this weekend. Get the double. Just remember: no mods, no tomatoes. They need to put that on a t-shirt.

2. Neal: Pourhouse

Getting this sixth overall?? That going to church business is really paying off! This might be the most beloved burger in town, so much so that the restaurant just retooled to make itself a burger-centric operation. The nice thing is you can go for the classic Pourhouse burger (which features the confit pork belly, which is bonkers) or if you’re all about the  smash burger you can have the double bacon cheese that tastes a lot like a classy Big Mac.

The only downside is it’s on the pricier end of the spectrum—$20 plus $5 more for fries—but you shouldn’t eat that many burgers, so why not pay for greatness?

3. Alyssa: Calabash Caribbean Bistro

I tried the Jerk Burger at Calabash last weekend and purposely kept it a secret from everyone for fear they’d snatch it, but now I’ll say it loud and proud: this is easily one of the best. It’s also totally different from my number 1 (the classic Hundy). This burger has spicy jerk beef and a sweet mango salsa, it’s really ideal if you’re looking for something other than the ketchup-and-mustard usual. It’s super refreshing, the jerk fries are awesome, and it comes with fries. (What is up with the ones that don’t? Get it together, please).

4. Anicka: Au Comptoir

It has caramelized onions and raclette and that speaks to me. It’s also $18 and includes fries. I really think a burger should be under $20 all in, but that’s me.

Round Three

1. Anicka: Cactus Club

Specifically the Feenie Burger. I stopped ordering gluten-free buns a long time ago because they usually just completely dissolve (lettuce wraps, at least don’t ruin the meat underneath), but they have a really good gluten-free bun. Great sauce, loved the mushrooms, it’s just super tasty.

3. Alyssa: Romer’s Burger Bar

A chain! Sue me! Sorry not sorry, this burger is good. Another classic that’s on the cheaper side ($13.75 and, once again, it comes with fries as all burgers should).

3. Neal: Bells and Whistles

James Iranzad is also a mensch and his spot also springs for the Two Rivers meat. And while B&W has always had a solid burger line-up, the relatively new Royale With Cheese is the star for me. Great potato bun, the Kaylyn & Hobbes pickles are the best of any place I’ve been and great gooey factor. I do find the greatness of the bun is highlighted at dine-in more than takeout, but this is a winner. And I’m a winner for picking it.

4. Nathan: MeeT Restaurants

Yes, a meat eater is taking a vegetarian spot in a burger draft. My partner is veg and this place’s Main location is her favourite restaurant in town. And I have to say—I’ve been converted. I always dial up the Angry Burg (a delicious take on buffalo chicken), and it never disappoints. Yep, the sauce (which has a pretty potent spice level) is slathered on there generously, but it’s complemented nicely with guacamole and ranch.

Round Four

1. Nathan: White Spot

I couldn’t leave this draft without White Spot. It would feel dishonest, as there’s no question I’ve had it more than any other burger in the city. And yeah, scoff at that if you must. I get it.

But hey, a ferry trip is not complete without a Spicy Ultimate Crunch or a BC Burger. For a former UVic kid that once upon a time was doing long distance with someone in Vancouver (like almost everyone who has gone to UVic), White Spot served as both delightful anticipation on the way there and warm comfort on the way back.

Not to mention that young me was a Pirate Pak fiend.

2. Neal: Two Rivers Specialty Meats

A bit of cheat, because only the butcher side is currently open, but I don’t think we can overemphasize the debt Vancouver burger lovers owe Two Rivers and their support of local ranchers. When I see that a restaurant is using their beef I know right off the bat that they’re people who share many of my ideals and are putting their money (in terms of less profit) where their mouths are.

But when they re-open, any of their burgers—some, if I recall featuring 65-day dry-aged beef—are off the charts for those who want big and bold. And eating in a butcher shop (even a really swanky one) seals the deal.

3. Alyssa: The Flying Beaver Bar & Grill

Really wasn’t expecting Nate to pick Meet, but that means I get to show my Richmond roots: The veggie burger at The Flying Beaver is absolutely my favourite plant-based burger. It’s topped with guacamole and goat cheese and could rival any of its beef counterparts. It’s the best view in town and probably the closest anyone’s getting to the airport for a while. Also, oh yeah, it comes with fries.

4. Anicka: Vera’s Burger Shack

I can’t believe I’m drafting two chains, but it’s a decent burger, and when you get a lettuce wrap, they actually hollow up a half a head of iceberg lettuce and the burger sits right in it. It’s way easier to eat, and the burger is delicious.

Honourable Mention

Nathan: Cannibal Café

Really excellent burgers, both at their location on Commercial and at their sister restaurant Alphabet City. At the latter you’re expecting basic pub fare—prepare to be very pleasantly surprised.

Neal: Como

The hamburguesa with the morcilla and  squid ink buns was awesome, but It’s not on the menu anymore. It was special.

Neal: D.I.C.E.D Culinary

At $5.95 this handcrafted wonder is the best deal in town by a mile and you have Quang Dang cooking it. So awesome.

Nathan: Hawksworth

I don’t want to get hate mail, but Hawksworth has always had a supremely good burger.

Neal: Superflux Beer Company 

I haven’t had this, but Chef Justin Ell made a wicked burger at Crowbar and I hear this version with a monster thick patty, is even better. It’s not always on the menu though.

The Picks

Anicka – Trans Am, Au Comptoir, Cactus Club, Vera’s Burger Shack
Alyssa – Hundy, Calabash Caribbean Bistro, Romer’s Burger Bar, Flying Beaver
Neal – DownLow, Pourhouse, Bells and Whistles, Two Rivers
Nathan – Popina, Between 2 Buns, MeeT Restaurants, White Spot

Who made the best calls? And what did we miss? Vote below or share your thoughts on our Instagram page. Voting results will be shared when we come back in a couple weeks for our next draft (we won’t give away the subject just yet).

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