Photographer: Peter Frank Edwards

Eight Burger Joints With Great Wine Lists

Burgers and beer? Snore. This summer, it’s all about burgers and wine.

Meet the new holy trinity of luxe summer living: burgers, flip flops, and a fine bottle of wine. From coast to coast, you’ll find chefs that subscribe to that philosophy, not just in their own back yards but in the kitchens of their most casual restaurants. So if you’re in the market for a double decker and a glass of Grenache, head to one of these eight spots—and leave the charcoal at home.

Burger & Barrel, New York

The main dining room at Burger & Barrel.
The main dining room at Burger & Barrel.
Source: Burger & Barrel

So often, burger joints are narrowly focused on their beer lists, but that’s not the case at Burger & Barrel, in Manhattan's SoHo. Thanks to sommelier Mike Duffy, this place is all about the wine, which means that you can have grower champagne from Jacquesson, New World reds, and even orange wine with chef Josh Capon’s award-winning, bacon jam-topped burgers. There are plenty of affordable bottles on the list, but the 2005 Cos d’Estournel Bordeaux for $350 is a worthy splurge.

FLX Wienery, Finger Lakes, N.Y.

As if the scenery weren’t enough, New York’s Finger Lakes have become a go-to destination for outstanding rieslings and pinot noirs. Yet another reason to make the drive: FLX Wienery. Chris Bates, a master sommelier, and his wife Isabel run this summer-only hot dog and burger joint just off Seneca Lake. Here, the burgers are made from steak-quality meat from a local ranch, seared on a 500-degree flat top and served on sesame-topped milk bread buns from a nearby bakery. The wine selection seals the deal: In addition to an exceptional list of bottles from around the world (Bérêche & Fils Champagne, Huet Vouvray, Graillot Crozes-Hermitage) Bates has created a secret wine fridge for guests to rummage through, filled with cult Napa Cabernets and Spanish and Italian reds from the 1980s and '90s.

The Bristol, Chicago

The line-commanding burger at The Bristol.
The line-commanding burger at The Bristol.
Source: The Bristol

For years, Chicagoans have lined up at the Bristol in Bucktown for chef Chris Pandel’s brunch-only, hangover-curing quarter pounder with cheese and duck fat fries. But those who love wine would be equally justified to line up for the Bristol’s wine list. It’s one of the greatest menus in town, with nearly 50 by-the-glass options and an exceptional selection of premier and grand cru Burgundies. This time of year, though, sommelier Charles Ford is reaching for something a little more light-hearted to pair with the burger. His pick is a juicy, California sparkling rosé: the 2015 Sparkling Valdiguié from Cruse Wine Company.

Little Jack’s Tavern, Charleston, S.C.

Little Jack's Tavern, in Charleston.
Little Jack's Tavern, in Charleston.
Photographer: Peter Frank Edwards

The new and buzzy Little Jack’s Tavern has all the hallmarks of an immediately familiar classic tavern: leather banquettes, checkered tablecloths, black-and-white boxing photos covering the walls. It also has two very different, equally delicious burgers—one topped with caramelized shallots and buffalo milk cheese, and one with shrimp and Old Bay mayo that pays homage to coastal Carolina fare. As long as you pair the beef version with Napa favorite Corison Cabernet and the seafood with the Willamette Valley’s Eyrie Pinot Gris, there’s really no wrong choice.

Acorn, Denver

The Source, a marketplace in a 19th-century foundry building in Denver’s emerging RiNo district, is the place to go for the Mile High City’s best coffee roaster, wine shop, bakery, and burger place. The latter is called Acorn, and it's where chef Steven Redzikowski’s towering double-decker cheeseburger is served with delicious Old Bay tater tots. Beverage director and certified sommelier Bryan Dayton’s wine list is stacked with tiny producers of Napa Cabernet such as Di Constanzo, back vintages of Barolo, and smoky Syrahs that are transcendent with Redzikowski’s meaty creation.

Salt’s Cure, Los Angeles

The bacon cheeseburger at Salt's Cure.
The bacon cheeseburger at Salt's Cure.
Source: Salt's Cure

The decadent, lunchtime-only bacon cheeseburger at Salt’s Cure—West Hollywood’s go-to for all things pork and charcuterie—is so popular that the spot recently relocated and expanded to help meet demand. Everything here is local and organic, so it’s no surprise that the wine list follows a sustainably-minded slant; it focuses on natural and organic wines from small, family-owned wineries, many of them from California.

The Dutch, Miami

Andrew Carmellini's outpost of The Dutch in Miami Beach.
Andrew Carmellini's outpost of The Dutch in Miami Beach.
Photographer: Noah Fecks

Restaurants in Miami have always had to strike a balance between catering to club-goers and satisfying wine enthusiasts. The Dutch, a South Beach outpost of New York's beloved SoHo restaurant, toes the line remarkably well. Here, beverage director Josh Nadel offers an international selection of bottles—big-name California Pinot Noirs, bold Rhône reds, back vintages of Barolo—that are fantastic with chef Andrew Carmellini’s cheddar-topped prime burger. That said, no one will fault you if you want to have it with a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos du Mesnil instead. 

Essex, Seattle

Brandon Pettit and Molly Wizenberg have claimed a corner of Seattle’s cool Ballard neighborhood with their wood-fired pizza place, Delancey, and bar Essex next door. The cocktails get all the attention at Essex, but its wine list is exceptional—full of mostly European, limited-production discoveries. Here you can have a bottle of Elisabetta Foradori’s brilliant Teroldego—an indigenous varietal of Italian red—alongside Pettit’s wood-oven burger, which is made in Delancy’s kitchen but served up at the bar. What you’ll get: an 8-ounce, grass-fed, local beef patty with two secret sauces, cheddar, and pickled peppers. Show up early. He only makes a few of these each night.

Honorable Mention: Salvation Burger, New York

Assembling the signature dish at Salvation Burger.
Assembling the signature dish at Salvation Burger.
Photographer: Eric Medsker/Bloomberg

April Bloomfield’s Salvation Burger has had lines out the door since it opened early in the spring. That's no surprise, given that the chef created one of the city’s most enduringly trendy burgers at the Spotted Pig. Here, Bloomfield does everything— from butchering whole animals to dry-aging meat and making an improved facsimile of American cheese singles—in-house. Her epic, $25 signature burger is decked out with hen of the woods mushrooms, onions, taleggio, and oozy blue cheese; toppings change with the seasons. And the short but sweet wine list is all hits, with fruit-forward choices that pair perfectly with the namesake entrées. (Think Chave Saint-Joseph and Sicilian reds.). The caveat: You’ll have to wait weeks to get in the door, literally. A major fire has closed Salvation Burger for repairs, but it’s a must-go once it reopens.

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