Melbourne’s Best Burgers, a beefy smackdown
David Hagger and Simon Leong / Courtesy of Simon Leong
FOODIEHUB asked David Hagger, author of The World Loves Melbourne in Australia, and Simon Leong, author of Simon Food Favourites in Sydney, to take part in a Burger Smackdown. The duo was asked to rate the best burgers in both cities. We flew David to join Simon to rate the best burgers in Sydney. Then we flew Simon to join David to rate the best burgers in Melbourne.
The duo rated each burger from 1 to 5 based on:
- Beef -Should have a “pleasant” meaty flavor
- Seasoning – Should have a light pleasant seasoning
- Cooking - Should be medium rare
- Juiciness – The center of the burger should ooze when squeezed
- Char/Sear – Outside should have a “dry” char/sear
- Bun – Must hold the burger together
- Bun – Should be soft, pleasant and tasty on its own
- Cheese – Tasty, well integrated, important
- Condiments and sauces – Should enhance but not overwhelm
- Overall – How does it all come together
David Hagger / Courtesy of Simon Leong
In the second of our three-part series, here are the burgers David and Simon tried in Melbourne and how they rated.
Coming next: We crown the best burger city.
The Melbourne report counting down to our number 1:
Score by David: 41/50
Score by Simon: 37/50
The McDowell of Grand Trailer Park / Courtesy of theworldlovesmelbourne
“The McDowell reminded us of a Big Mac,” David said. “I couldn’t work out why it was a hefty $18.50. The meat was excellent, and juicy cooked medium-rare. A standout was the char on the meat. But the cheese factor wasn’t as impressive as The Chunk. The bun was a bit dry on this particular burger, but held the burger together. The presentation was a bit ‘all over the place,’ not as well presented as The Chunk. The McDowell sauce didn’t grab me. A solid burger, but not at the top of the list.”
“This would have been one of my most disappointing burgers during my visit,” Simon said. “The char on the patties and flavour were good but the bun crumbled too much when held and the ratio favoured the bun compared to the meat. Presentation was messy and the McDowell sauce overpowered the balance of the other ingredients.”
Score by David: 46/50
Score by Simon: 37/50
The Chunk of Grand Trailer Park / Courtesy of theworldlovesmelbourne
“The chunk lives up to its name. This is a true “double-double” burger. The beef is juicy and on point with light seasoning. The burger was medium-rare, but could have been slightly rarer and a tad juicier,” David said. “The soft bun held the burger together well. Cheese was excellent, although we expected more integration with the double cheese. The burger had good balance.”
“This is a pretty cool themed restaurant,” Simon added. “The Chunk was a bit of a meat lover’s burger with nice patties with some decent sear. Pretty tasty, although I found the bun a bit dry.”
Score by David: 49/50
Score by Simon: 41/50
The Double Major of Tuck Shop Take Away / Courtesy of theworldlovesmelbourne
“When you get guys from Attica, The Fat Duck and Vue De Monde, you know it’s getting serious. Tuck Shop Take Away is where the top chefs come for burgers,” David said. “You may see Ben Shewry here. Everything is made from scratch.
“A favorite here is the secret menu ‘The Bully,” David continued. “But it comes with jalapeno heat, so for the purposes of this exercise, we sampled The Double Major.
“Meat cuts are top notch from Gippsland and the burger was cooked perfectly with medium-rare juiciness and the delight of light seasoning on the grill,” David said. “The burger was perfect for me, apart from wanting to see a slight bit more char on the meat.
The soft bun was outstanding (everything else is made from scratch, including the sauce),” David said. “Cheese was tasty and well integrated. The burger had lettuce and tomato, and if there’s one place that can do this well, it’s Tuck Shop Take Away – not overbearing, but added a refreshing touch to the meaty burger. Fabulous burger and surely one of the best burger joints in Australia.”
“I love the retro corner shop theme of the Tuck Shop for a good old-fashioned burger with down-to-earth local gem service,” Simon added, “It was a big and meaty burger with good flavors, although it did become a bit messy to eat when the bun base started to soak up the juices. Hats off to the tasty house made sauces. Triple cooked chips as a side is a must.”
Score by David: 48/50
Score by Simon: 42/50
Double Dragon of 8bit / Courtesy of theworldlovesmelbourne
Enter the Double Dragon with double beef, double cheese, double bacon, pickles, mustard, lettuce, ketchup and 8 bit sauce. One of Melbourne’s favorite burgers, the Double Dragon is a true “double burger,” David said. “The double patty was first class with cheese oozing and lingering, with char almost perfect. Juiciness of the meat was evident. The bun was compelling and so soft, and the balance of the burger excellent. Pickles added a welcome tang to the experience.”
“This was my first taste of a Melbourne hamburger,” Simon added. “Pretty juicy flavors, although the bun was perhaps a little on the dry side but still held together well. There was a lingering cheese taste that perhaps overpowered the meat and, overall, it was a bit greasy around the bun itself when holding.”
Score by David: 50/50
Score by Simon: 46/50
The Theo of Huxtaburger / Courtesy of theworldlovesmelbourne
Huxtaburger changed the Melbourne burger scene a few years ago when they launched their gourmet burgers, David said. “Chef Daniel Wilson is a genius and burgers here are ‘chef driven.’ ”
“Theo was the energetic growing teenager on ‘The Cosby Show,’ so we thought he would require a big meaty, cheesy burger with barbecue sauce,” Daniel said about his creation of a double beef patty with double cheese, bacon, barbecue sauce, tomato, lettuce and pickles. “This is definitely not one for the faint-hearted!”
When cut in half, The Theo displayed perfect burger formation, David said.
“The beef is first class with superb meaty flavor, and seasoning is evident but not overpowering, as salt and pepper was mixed through the patty mince. The wagyu patties were perfectly cooked with pink juiciness in the middle and char on the outside,” David said.
Simon Leong / Courtesy of theworldlovesmelbourne
“The soft burger bun had a brioche element and held the bun together. While soft and pleasant on its own, we loved the touch of clarified butter brushed inside the bun, which was also lightly toasted. The Cheddar cheese was tasty and well integrated, bacon delightfully crispy, and condiments and sauce enhanced, notably the spicy mustard,” David continued.
“The balance of the burger was a highlight; it came together in burger harmony. One of the best.”
“I really enjoyed this burger,” Simon added. “It had a good balance of ingredients and remained well-presented when cut in half to reveal all the layers. Easy to handle and wasn’t messy to eat. Nice soft buns and good crispy bacon.”
While Simon was unable to try the following burgers, David rates them among the best burgers Melbourne has to offer:
Score by David: 48/50
Double Cheeseburger of Leonard's House of Love / Courtesy of theworldlovesmelbourne
“Leonard’s House of Love is a must-visit burger destination in Melbourne. Like many great burger houses, it has chefs with fine pedigrees behind the scenes. Chef Nick Stanton is a Melbourne legend and we have enjoyed his spectacular cuisine in recent years. The venue has a 1970s-style retro vibe in the theme of a log cabin. It feels more like a clubhouse than a restaurant. The burgers here are some of the best in Australia,” David said.
“If you enjoy a classic style double cheeseburger, this is the place for you. The Double Cheeseburger features a double beef brisket and short rib patty, American cheese, special burger sauce, pickles and green oak lettuce. The patty is premium, juicy and with a good amount of char. Added bacon, a soft bun and gloriously melted cheese set off this burger.”
Score by David: 48/50
Double Smash Patty with Bacon of Rockwell and Sons/ Courtesy of theworldlovesmelbourne
“The Double smash Patty burger consists of a sexy savory (not sweet) brioche bun, excellent juicy patty action, cheddar cheese drooled all over the meat, crunchy gherkins and a killer sauce,” David said. “This sauce reputedly includes three kinds of mayo. Chef Casey Wall doesn’t make a burger ‘patty’ as such, but rather a ball of beef is rolled and then smashed on a flat grill to form a ‘pancake.’ The meat consists of grass-fed brisket, chuck and a few other cuts. The Double Patty Smash burger is a triumph of juicy pink meat with awesome caramelization on the outside. It’s juicy bliss! Casey doesn’t believe in tomato in burgers for integrity of the dish, as tomatoes aren’t always in season. The price point of this burger is kind to the wallet.”
Prices are subject to change. Please check for current prices.
Meet our contributors in this mission
David Hagger is a self-described bald headed man and former rock vocalist with a penchant for finery, convivial dining and festive culture.David worked as an accountant in many industries and gets buzzed by numbers....Read More
I'm a passionate Sydney food blogger, keen photographer and international cuisine lover. I strive to provide comprehensive and honest reviews of restaurants, cafés, bars, pubs, festivals and products to whet your appetite...Read More
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