Words: Shamim de Brún
After much racking of brains, trawling the internet and bleeding heart email threads, we are proud to present CHAR’s Ultimate Food Guide. A guide that cuts through the mire of food and drink reviews made by every Tweedledee, with opposable thumbs and access to WiFi.
Kicking off this year’s series is the most essential food group, the burger. Burgers mean a great deal to Dubliners, and the competition has never been so stiff with mainstays expanding and noobs coming up in the world. We’ve interviewed ten industry heads who know what they’re talking about to bring you the decisive guide to Dublin’s best burgs.
What makes a good burger is as subjective as fine art. It is subject to fashion, trends and personal preference. Burgers are the ultimate comfort food; they have gone from working man’s food to Haut cuisine and back again.
Let’s get one thing straight before we dig into it. A chicken burger is a burger. A Veggie burger is a burger. A burger is not just beef. Some of your favourite burgs even have a touch of pork in them, so don’t fight me with “a burger is beef, and only beef” on this or I’ll prove you wrong in front of all your mates. I have the receipts.
According to Mick O’Connell MW and co-owner of Neighbourhood wine, it’s all about “fat content”. A good burger needs the right amount of fat to make it juicy.
We have all tasted the dreaded dry burger at some stage. But you can go too far and load up too many sauces and toppings until you lose sight of the burger.
The patty can be beef, chicken, pork or veggie but it is a truth universally acknowledged that if the burger falls apart, it’s not good enough. Getting a burger to not fall apart varies, but it requires quality bread. If you skip on the bun, the customer can tell, even if they don’t know why.
The bottom line is it always comes down to the quality of ingredients; like Patrick and Russell of Gastro Gays say, “when you use good quality ingredients, that shines through, and when you don’t … that shines through”.
WingMan does everything from grilled chicken to vegan to a Motz-style smash. Make no mistake. However, these are not your typical burgers. Gone are the soggy buns, frozen patties and plastic cheese slices of the 1990s. Instead, wing Man has an excellent curated burg menu, and they lash them out to you at record speed.
Half of the best dynamic duo that is Gastro Gays Russell nurses a particular soft spot for WingMan because it saved his life during a nasty hangover. He maintains that it got all the way back from Dublin to Drogheda in one piece and maintained its integrity. It is a burg that still comes to him in his dreams.
Most Popular Burger: LA Style Smash burger, quickly followed by their Tipsy Chick and Bacon Double Cheese!
Locations: Naomh Barróg GAA Club, Kilbarrack Rd, Northside, Dublin 5, D05 DY65. Malahide Rugby Club, Estuary Rd, Yellow Walls, Malahide, Co. Dublin, K36 R654. AstroPark, Oscar Traynor Road, Coolock, Dublin 17, D17 Y998.
Opening Hours: See their website for the latest changeable info
WoWBurger is as ubiquitous as PressUp itself. Whether they’re plonked in the middle of Dublin’s most notorious smoking area or obscured in “haberdasheries”, the burger joint is omnipresent on the city streets. It’s even expanded to the neighbouring counties.
Politics aside, the taste of the burgers makes them a feature of everyone’s list. The Gastro Gays namedropped the “customizable nature” of their menu. Tara Deery, a sommelier from Sweeney’s D3, said they were an excellent go-to after hours. The ability to build the burger to your saucy specifications appeals to almost anyone, especially the three o clock in the morning crowd, and hey, it’s a whole heap better than MacDonald’s.
Most popular burger: Bacon & cheeseburger.
Locations: Ranelagh’s 3 The Triangle, Tallaght’s The Square Shopping Centre, Dublin 2’s 16 Wexford Street, Mary’s Bar & Hardware 8 Wicklow Street, Temple Bar’s 2-5 Wellington Quay, Rotunda’s 198 Parnell Street, Sandyford’s the Beacon South Quarter, Glasnevin’s 125 Ballymun Road, Walkinstown’s The Cherry Tree Pub, Beaumount’s Circle K, Blanchardstown Centre’s Captain America’s, The Red Cow Inn on the Naas Road, Monkstown’s 18a Monkstown Crescent, The Pound Bar in Swords, The Foxhunter in Lucan, John’s Bar & Haberdashery off Thomas Street and City West Business Campus, plus more around the country.
Opening Times: For complete information on the opening times of each location, visit the Wowburger website.
From tumultuous beginnings, chicken between two pieces of bread has been a stalwart of pop cuisine. Cluck is an industry favourite and somewhat of a hidden gem. This year they embarked on a series of collaboration burgers with every head in Dublin, or so it seemed. From Marcus O’Laoire to Mickael Viljanen of Chapter One, a new burger was there for the devoted taste seekers of Walkinstown and anyone willing to hop on the 27 for a quick 20-minute jaunt out to Dublin 12.
In some ways, it remains a more niche part of the burger zeitgeist. But, if you haven’t made the pilgrimage yet, I recommend doing it as soon as possible. This spot is only gonna get busier and busier.
Rob, co-owner of Big Fan on Aungeir Street, said he “Can’t wait for that Chapter One burger,” which I can confirm was one of the best things I ate all year.
Most popular burger: the Mother Clucker is the “most popular by far.”
Locations: 22 Greenhills Rd, Walkinstown, Dublin, D12 K7F4
Opening Times: Wednesday to Friday from 17:00 and Saturday/Sunday from 15:00.
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Fourth Corner is a prime spot for a bit of city centre people-watching, and no better way to people-watch than with a burger in hand. Riggz Castillano of Bahay named these guys as one of the best burgs he had chowed down on recently, saying he was lucky to live so close to them. Rob of Big Fan fame said, “four corners burger is a good one, has a good burger”. That’s all you want to know when looking for a burger.
Most popular burger: Bolt Double Smash
Locations:50 Patrick Street, Dublin 8
Opening Times: Bolt Burger is open Wednesday-Friday from 17:00-21:00 and Saturday-Sunday from 12:00-21:00
Happy Endings arrived on the Dublin food scene with a cocked shotgun-level bang, thanks to their fusion of far-eastern flavours and quintessential diner-style comfort food.
Richie and his partner, Alex from Bahay, would go to Happy Endings regularly. Alex, herself is all about them because they have a little something for everyone, be they carnivores, vegans or vegetarians. She said: “Happy endings do a deadly vegetarian chicken burger with loads of pickles and sauces. Burgers that have loads of extra bits are really, really good, but mainly that pickle. That’s the thing that matters to me the most”.
We’ve written extensively about our love of Happy Endings flavour bombs, so it’s heartening to see them crop up among our industry experts.
Most popular burger: Jimmy Burger
Location: Aston Quay
Opening Hours: Every day from 17:00 and Brunch from 13:00 on weekends
For the uninitiated, The Saucy Cow is a joyful place full of fun and saucy flavours. The menu is structured like any burger shack, but with alt meat subs instead. The oyster mushroom chick bites are a mainstay that all snack-happy people should try. Opt for them instead of chips, and you won’t be disappointed.
Tara Deery thinks Saucy Cow is “just brilliant” and called it “definitely the best thing to happen to the veggie world”. However, Alex was more exclamatory, saying, “The Saucy Cow is a big love. Those Saucy Cow burgers *chefs kiss”.
It’s a testament to how good they are that they rank among the best burger spots in Dublin and aren’t relegated to veggie only. So if you’ve never had their BBQ Buckfast burg, you should fix that.
Most popular burger: The Buckfast BBQ Burger
Locations: 19 Crane Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin, D02 R891
Opening Times: Tuesday 16:30 – 21:00 and Wednesday to Sunday 12:00 – 22:00
Bujo is the burger chefs love. Every chef we talked to name-checked them with a nod of reverence and respect.
Bujo is a burger for chefs. They flame grill their burgers, so as the fat drips onto the flames, the smoke flavours them. They also have a 3 Star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, use renewable energy to power their joints, and all packaging is compostable, reusable or recyclable.
It is the burgerie that most definitely best caters to anyone with dietary restrictions, with Tara Gartlan, our resident gluten-free-er testifying to the perfection of their GF bun. Newly GF Mick O’Connell is stoked to try it.
Of all the burger spots on this list, it is the one that ticks the most boxes. As the Gastro Gays put it, “They just have great quality ingredients. I think they’re always inventive and exciting. … they innovate constantly.”
Tara Deery said, “Bujo is amazing. The chicken burger actually is probably better than their base burger”.
Our token veggie Alex was devout in her stanning of their veggie offering. But, she said, “I love Bujo’s Meat Free Burger. I think Beyond Meat is just the thing that hits it. It gets crispy, gets the right kind of caramelization, and it’s just cooked really, really well”.
Holly Dalton of Conbini condiments has a “Big spot in (her) heart for Bujo.”Kevin of Nomo Ramen infamy said he thinks Bujo “is obviously a great burger”, While Richie said it was his “favourite burger at the moment.”
Most Popular Burger: The classic BuJo by Gráinne O’Keefe
Locations: 6A Sandymount Green, Dublin 4, D04 XY70
Opening Times: Monday – Tuesday: 16:00 – 21:30, Wednesday – Thursday: 12:00 – 21:00, Friday -Saturday 12:00 – 22:00 and Sunday: 12:00 – 21:00.
If burgers are the food of the people, chicken burgers are the food of the Dublin people. We disproportionately love a chicken burger, and at the moment, the team slinging the best chicken burgs in the piping hot poultry section is most definitely Chimac. The team brought in Korean-style fried chicken when we were completely unaware of how much we needed it.
They barrelled straight into our lives via their Aungier street shop and have gone from strength to strength, expanding to Terenure and the Aviva this year, as well as launching their own brand of sauces and ice cream sandwiches as well as teaming up with a team of local artists to produce stellar merch.
“If I’m gonna chicken, I go for a KimCheese at Chimac,” said neighbour Rob from Big Fan. That sentiment seems to be the sentiment of the city. Every expert we polled picked Chimac as one of the top spots in the city for a burger despite not doing anything but chicken burgers. Tara Deery was probably the most hyperbolic, proclaiming, ” At the very beginning, I think I ate about like five of them like in like a week”. Thankfully now she settles to “once every few months” because it “hits the spot, that little bit of extra oomph.”
It’s no secret that the Gastro Gays are “obsessed by all things Korean food” anyone who has read their book, Hot Fat, knows this to be gospel. So Chimac was always going to rank high with them, as it was with Holly Dalton. The Conbini Condiement CEO was full of effusive compliments for Chimac; she emphatically said, “ the honey butter, the jalapenos, the melty sauce. The chicken’s like falling out of the bun. It’s just gorgeous”.
Kevin: I’ve been to many of the chicken burger places, but Chimac stands out for me again. Amazing work there. Just putting something different to Chicken Burger is that Korean aspect and taste to chicken burgers, and it’s splendid.
Most popular burger: At the moment, it’s The Good Good
Locations: Aungier Street & Terenure
Opening Times: Check their website for more info on their opening times.
Arguably the renegades of the burger scene, Bunsen was one of the first to create quality burgers with an edge in Dublin. It will shock many people that they are not number one this year after quickly claiming the top spot last year. I can, however, disclose that there were only two points between this OG powerhouse and our winner.
Bunsen, long ago, perfected the simple burger. Their somewhat secret recipe is concocted of freshly minced Black Aberdeen Angus with a ratio of “three different forequarter cuts”, layered with their own cheese combo of Comte/Jack blend, toppings of lettuce, onion, and tomatoes all padded into an in-house made Amish dinner roll. The burger is cooked to order, but Bunsen recommends customers have it medium with all the trimmings.
Bunsen claimed the top spot with GF Michelin-level pastry chef Tara Gartlan formerly of Chapter One. She said they always have just what she’s looking for in a burg and that their GF bun withstands the elements and makes for an excellent dining experience. Tara Deery was on the same page when she said, “Number one, for me, is definitely Bunsen always has been. Never will change for me that”.
GG nodded at its consistency and ubiquity throughout the city. Holly called it “timeless.” Keven credited them with changing the face of the burger scene when he said, “Bunsen really made burgers simple and grate for me and Dublin”.
Most popular burger: The Single Cheese Burger
Locations: South Ann Street, Ranelagh, Blanchardstown, Temple Bar, Dame Street, Baggot Street and Wexford Street
Opening Times: See their website for the complex matrix of opening times.
Dash is one of those businesses that feel like they were an overnight success to us but have been built by the team’s passion, blood, sweat and tears. Harnessing the smash-burger craze that gripped the internet and, by extension, the world, serial restauranteur Barry Wallace launched Dash Burger back in October 2020.
These days, Dash slings more than just the George Motz-inspired burger they made their name on. They have collabed with Ger’s Hot Honey and ALLTA to create deity-level glorious burgs that people have travelled from all over the country for. But don’t take my word for it. See what the experts said:
Mick: “Dash Burger is pretty epic”.
Holly: “It’s perfect. It’s perfect. Every time I’d eat ten of them, the triple smash, some people would say, ” Okay, three burgers are going to go crazy. I like their sloppy crispy on-the edge-like lovely melted cheese. Their sides are so good. It’s the only place in Dublin doing incredible smash burgers that I know prove me wrong.”
Gastro Gays: “My instant answer is always Dash. We’re obsessed with Dash Burger. The beefy, crunchy, crispy, scraggly edges you get from one of those smash burgers are just out of this world. And the chicken tenders, hot honey again, hot one obsessed. So, so good.”
Kevin: “The top for me, Dash Burger is just so tasty, so incredible. They’ve done I think they’ve really brought what a Smashburger really is into for the likes of myself to understand… they’re so consistent, they’re super tasty all the time, and when they did the collaboration with Allta and the miso butter that was out of this world, so I’m just blown away by what Dash burger are doing”.
Most popular: Miso Double Smash Burger
Locations: Portobello’s 6-11 Kevin Street Lower and North City’s 159 Capel Street
Opening times: Kevin Street: Monday-Thursday 12:30-15:30 and 17:00-21:00, Friday-Saturday 12:30-21:30 and Sunday 12:00-21:30
Capel Street Monday-Sunday 12:30-21:30
Elsewhere on CHAR: The Enduring Appeal of a Burger and Chips