Burger Time, KC
Kansas City is world-renowned for its meats. Barbecue in particular. That being said, it seems not enough people give burgers the attention they so justly deserve. There are many excellent places to eat here, and we can all agree that burgers deserve a little more love. You’ve got fine dining options, food trucks, and diners all waiting to assist you in experiencing that most righteous of nirvana that is enjoying a nice, juicy burger. Clearly this is not a comprehensive list of all the finest beeferies in this the City of Fountains, but follow along for five locations Emily and I feel deserve your attention and you deserve to indulge in.
Though they only just opened last April, Corvino quickly established itself as one of the top fine dining experiences in Kansas City. Don’t be shy about going in and trying the burger, though. It’s a cool place, with live music playing consistently, and an extremely welcoming vibe– a tone consistent with head chef Michael Corvino, who was kind enough to give us some insight on how he developed this burger. The goal was to design the perfect version of the old-school diner burger. Mission accomplished. This burger is rich and savory, and was the perfect size. They grind and make their own chuck patties, smash them flat to get that perfect crispiness, serve them on an airy house-made sesame seed bun and top it off with a classic aioli, gooey Muenster cheese, extra sour dill pickle slices, and charred onion. Not to be missed. Fair warning, the menu states, “modifications politely declined,” so leave it be: it is more than worth it.
A legendary greasy spoon, KC standard. Everything about this place feels like history. Not just for this particular town, but for the burger joints of days gone by. It’s this style that inspired burgers like Corvino’s. It’s a tiny, fast-paced, fundamentally classic taste of the past. No frills to this burger. Just a couple thin patties and gooey American cheese, topped with grilled onion. We had it with fries and a Coke. It’s all just so comforting in its culinary nostalgia. Snagging a piece of pie for later never hurt anyone either. Never.
This was without a doubt the heartiest of the burgers we consumed. Double patty, melty American cheese, two of the thickest cuts of chewy bacon these two Midwesterners have ever seen, a fried egg, creamy dijonnaise, some legit hops pickles from KC Canning Co. and chopped red onion. It was like breakfast on a bun. This was a messy mouthful, in the best possible way. Personal recommendation: cut this thing in half before you start, so the yoke of that egg can cascade down the walls of this most epic of protein palaces. Totally decadent and a meal in and of itself. The Cajun style fries were good, too, if you’re feeling especially indulgent.
By far the youngest addition to the Kansas City restaurant scene in our sampling, Black Dirt from Chef Johnathan Justus has another great burger to try. Their goal was to have everything sourced as locally as possible and to make everything in-house as well. The beef came from Barham Family Farms in Kearny, Missouri, and they made their own ketchup, mayonnaise, buns and even pickles. This was a thick, juicy one, stacked with lettuce and onion, and nice crispy bacon. The perfectly melted white cheddar cheese brought in from farms in Kansas was one of the big stand outs for us. Definitely the most traditional burger we tried– and this was its greatest strength. It was like a classic quarter-pounder with cheese, turned up to 11.
Established in 2013 and attached to the back of Local Pig, one of the top butcher shops in the city, this food truck is a little bit of a trek, but a journey worth taking. Another double cheeseburger. Which we found to be the expected portion of almost all our tasting locations. Carnivores want more– as it should be. We found it to be very reasonably sized, though, so you don’t feel too gluttonous snarfing it down. We really liked the thin patties, which were crispy and juicy all at the same time, as well as the arugula and smoked provolone. The big stand out (and our favorite characteristic) was the tomato jam, providing a sweetness not offered by any other burger on this list. There is a bit of a wait, so don’t be in a rush. Take your time, peruse the butcher shop, and load up on some other great cuts of meat, all from local farms.