Hamburgers are as All-American as it gets. On summer holidays, Americans celebrate by stoking up their backyard barbecues — hopefully with Grade-A meat from local butchers and supermarkets. But you have to go to a restaurant to get the trendy — and priciest — burgers that have sprung up in dining emporiums across the country.
We don’t absolutely guarantee there aren’t other more expensive burgers out there — especially at the lower end of our expense account — but they’re the best and priciest we could locate.
It’s not just a modern phenomenon. Luxury burgers have been around for years In 2001, famed French chef Daniel Bouloud introduced a hamburger stuffed with short ribs, foie gras and truffles at New York’s DB Bistro Moderne that now sells for $32. A few months later, the Olde Homestead Steakhouse debuted a $41 Kobe beef burger; from there, luxury hamburgers became popular in the nation’s high-end eateries.
For many diners, luxury hamburgers can show off a kitchen's imagination. In Beverly Hills, Spago’s burger is a comparatively modest $22, but it’s made with Kobe beef, Vermont farmhouse cheddar and a garlic aioli.
Newcomer Taste offers a $21.75 Kobe burger topped with gorgonzola, onion jam, bacon and crimini mushrooms just down the road in West Hollywood. They may not be the most expensive hamburgers in the country, but they're among the best.
A brazen burger can be found at Le Burger Brasserie, inside the Paris Las Vegas casino. Their $777 Kobe beef and Maine lobster burger is topped with caramelized onion, brie cheese and prosciutto, all of it accompanied by Dom Perignon champagne.
Not so high-end is Southgate’s Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps baseball team.
Their $20 Fifth Third burger is a staggering 1.66-pound beef patty topped with lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, chili and Fritos (yes, Fritos) on an eight-inch sesame seed bun. According to the Whitecaps, it is designed to feed “one to four people.” (And believe it or not, there's even a gold-plated burger, served in New York. Click on the slideshow to see the world's only gold-dusted hamburger.)
How about our travelers and expats? Are they fated to suffer from hamburger withdrawal when barbecue season starts back home? Oh, cry not — the luxury burger knows no borders.
In Jakarta, Indonesia, the local Four Seasons hotel offers a one million rupiahs ($96) hamburger topped with Portobello mushroom, wasabi mayonnaise and foie gras. Hong Kong’s Steak House restaurant sells a massive 'Devil Hug' burger for HK$1098 ($141) that tops a giant, 35-ounce beef patty with foie gras and gruyere cheese.
And for a more “down to earth” luxury-priced burger, a dinner favorite at Hong Kong's Duke's Burger is a HK$300 ($38.50) oxtail-meat burger stuffed with chorizo sausage, toppped with Manchego cheese and accompanied by wasabi tater tots.
Who would have thought that the words "luxury" and "hamburger" would be spoken in the same breath?