Baton Rouge's

Burger Bucket List

My Rouses Everyday, July/August 2017

Baton Rouge has always been a burger town, but the city and its environs are in the midst of an extended burger moment.

You can find everything from that old diner classic, the flattop, to a newfangled gastropub blend, to a not-your-dad’s Peanut Butter & Jelly Bacon Burger courtesy of Your Mom’s. For big spenders, Fat Cow Burgers & Salads offers a foie gras topped Hundred Dollar Burger that ironically only costs $15.

Our Burger Bucket List wasn’t easy to make, so we polled people from Baton Rouge, Hammond, Gonzales, Plaquemine, Plattenville, Donaldsonville and Zachary. Everyone had an opinion, and a favorite. Clearly, the trend is to blend.

Mason’s Grill’s Cajun Shrimp burger has been named “Louisiana’s Best Burger” by Food Network magazine and Zagat. It’s an 8-oz. burger stuffed with diced jalapeños and sautéed shrimp, then smothered with Monterey Jack cheese. The kitchen crew is always thinking up creative burgers and then pitching them head to head in a weekly “Burger Battle.” So far, the Crabby Patty burger (topped with crabmeat, grilled onions and Jack cheese) has dominated the contests, beating out contenders like the French Connection burger with grilled ham and Brie cheese, topped with an egg and fried onion strings; the Pineapple Express burger with a beef patty, pulled pork, diced pineapple, red onions and Swiss cheese; and the HindenBurger with sausage, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese.

This family-owned and -operated restaurant opened in 1998, originally as a coffee shop (in a different location), until chef-owner Mike Alfandre started adding lunch service, then dinner, then breakfast. Mason’s is as well-known for brunch as for burgers, so don’t pass up the unbeatable combination of the Breakfast burger and their out-of-this-world Bloody Mary.

(13556 Jefferson Hwy., Baton Rouge)

The Dixie Maid Drive-In opened in 1946, and Baton Rouge natives have fond childhood memories of the burgers, root beer floats, ice cream cones and friendly service that’s been offered here for more than 70 years. Dixie Maid hasn’t changed too much over the years — it’s still the place to go for simple, old-fashioned burgers done right. The fresh patties are flattop grilled and served dressed with cheese and/or BBQ sauce, with optional add-ons like jalapeños and bacon available.

Dixie Maid is cash only (though there is an ATM on-site) and regulars advise calling in your order ahead of time, because this local institution’s popularity might have you standing in line for a while.

(4769 McClelland Dr., Baton Rouge)

One of the best handmade burgers (and cracklins) I’ve eaten is at this St. Amant spot that also serves as a gas station. Fill ’er up at Duckroost Seafood & Deli with the 8-oz. Certified Angus beef bacon cheeseburger.

(13277 Hwy. 431, St. Amant)

The decor at Curbside honors the burger joint’s food truck beginnings; a food truck facade is the centerpiece of the restaurant’s seating area. The brick and mortar “artisan grubbery” (as it’s billed on the website) restaurant just opened in late 2016 but is firing on all cylinders by keeping its most popular and beloved burgers on the menu — like the K.G.B. burger, topped with salty-sweet praline bacon, a runny-yolk fried egg and sharp cheddar cheese, or the Brian 3.0, which is topped with pork belly preserves, gorgonzola cheese and fried onion strings — and adding new items as well as ever-changing burger specials. Other regular standouts on the menu made with Curbside’s proprietary blend of freshly ground beef cooked to juicy perfection on a flattop grill include the GC2 with green chili relish, bacon, Pepper Jack fondue, Fritos and a Cholula® aioli, and the Naq Attaque, topped with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, a Parmesan crisp and garlic mayo, and served with a French onion soup dipper. Wash them down with the boozy adult milkshake!

(4158 Government St., Baton Rouge)

Fat Cow Burgers & Salads opened in 2011, kicking off what some describe as the “gourmet burger” trend in Baton Rouge. It has 13 specialty burgers on the menu, plus an impressive array of ingredients for concocting your own. Get your standard (but delicious) hamburgers, cheeseburgers and bacon burgers in double or triple size, or try one of the unique signature burgers. They’re all made with in-house ground Angus beef and flame-grilled to a smidge past medium.

The Sicilian burger is topped with basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, broiled, then finished with balsamic vinegar; the Wentworth burger comes with Black Forest ham, red onion marmalade, brie and apple slices; and the Hundred Dollar burger is topped with foie gras, Parmesan cheese, truffle aioli, balsamic vinegar and arugula.

(4350 Highland Rd. B1, Baton Rouge)

Riverside Patty has an image of a steer in its logo, a surefire way to entice beef and burger lovers. If you’re craving a chili cheeseburger, or a classic patty melt served on rye bread — or just your standard home-style enormous burger — this is the place.

The family-owned spot has been part of the community for 35 years, although it’s changed locations in that time. The half-pound, chargrilled burgers are made and cooked to order — the time necessary to cook the burgers inspired its slogan, “The Weight is Worth the Wait!”

All the burgers are exceptionally large, but if you’re up to a challenge, try the Super burger, which comes topped with jalapeños, bacon, mushrooms, mayo, cheddar and Swiss cheese. It’ll either put you in a meat coma or bust the buttons of your pants, but it is oh so worth it.

(10933 Cloverland Ave., Baton Rouge)

Downtown Seafood is located just off the Mississippi River. You may have passed this hole in the wall a hundred times without noticing it, but step in and you’ll find one of the most underrated burgers in Baton Rouge.

The cheeseburger is where it’s at for the downtown lunch crowd — it comes out seasoned and seared perfectly, dressed with fresh, crisp lettuce and tomato, in a matter of minutes. It’s also very reasonably priced as well as enormous. The old flattop grill is well-seasoned so it adds a distinctive flavor you just can’t miss — like your favorite cast-iron skillet.

(130 3rd St., Baton Rouge)

Baton Rouge diner institution Louie’s Café has been around since 1941 and is open 24 hours a day. The menu’s heavy on breakfast foods, but they do have four burger options: the Louie Burger, the Louie Cheeseburger, the Big Lou and the Big Cheesy Lou.

Word is that the Big Cheesy Lou is the best late-night, booze-soaking burger, and the breakfast food menu focus means you can — and definitely should — order the hash browns as a side.

The café’s 24-hour availability and extensive diner-style menu offer something for everyone, at any time of day or night. Except the biscuits — you can only get those during “regular” breakfast hours, from 6AM to 11AM.

(3322 Lake St., Baton Rouge)

Louie’s Cafe

“Baton Rouge has always been a burger town. Back in the late 90s, when I was at LSU, my girlfriend (now wife) Elizabeth and I were regulars at Louie’s Café, a 24-hour diner near campus. I played drums and sang in a cover band, Freight Train. At 2am, when the bars let out, we’d head straight for Louie’s. When we were lucky, we’d catch a seat at the bar, which wrapped around the open kitchen.

For a kid who grew up on Camellia Grill, where patties are cooked on a griddle seasoned with bacon fat and 60 years of burger juices, Louie’s charred flattop burger with chopped, grilled onions tasted very familiar. But it was the hash browns I craved. Louie’s huge servings are available plain or loaded with chili and cheese, jalapeños and cheese, or mushrooms, cheese and sour cream.

These days Louie’s is in a new location with more seats and more parking. And I’m more likely to grab lunch then a late-night second dinner. But the burgers are just as good, and oh those hash browns.”

—Marc Ardoin, Rouses Corporate Chef

Let us take a moment to mourn the (hopefully temporary) loss of another Baton Rouge staple, Dearman’s, an almost 60-year-old burger and sandwich shop that burned down in March 2016. Their no-frills, greasy-spoon burgers were simple yet delicious. Topped with lettuce, tomato and large slices of onion, this juicy burger could be had as a single or a double with cheese. However, they’re planning to reopen in 2017.

Several popular burger joints have opened multiple locations in the area.

Brew-Bacher’s has been serving up classic grilled burgers since 1983. Head to one of its four Baton Rouge locations or its Gonzales location for a Mexican burger on those days you can’t decide between a burger or a taco. It’s seasoned with Mexican spices and comes wrapped in a flour tortilla with guacamole, jalapeños, grilled onions and cheese.

It’s also perfect for when you’re craving a bacon cheeseburger, or the old-fashioned, hard-to-find but darn delicious patty melt. The locally baked sesame seed buns have been a constant since Brew-Bacher’s early days as well.

And what’s the origin of the name? The owners aren’t saying, but you can email them your best guess.

(3554 Drusilla Ln., 5580 Government St., 8415 Bluebonnet Blvd., and 5251 Nicholson Dr. in Baton Rouge and 909 E. Ascension Dr., Gonzales)

George’s Restaurant’s three Baton Rouge locations all offer the neighborhood bar and restaurant experience that almost feels like home. The kitchens sling out terrific burgers, cheeseburgers and bacon burgers, along with the Heavy Hit burger topped with cheddar and avocado and the Swiss mushroom burger. All burgers are built around a homemade patty with chuck, inside-round and brisket beef cuts.

(The “Original” George’s is at 2943 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge, with additional locations at 15321 George O’Neal Rd. and 8905 Highland Rd.)

When you think of Sammy’s Grill, seafood and fried cheese may be the first things that come to mind, but Sammy’s half-pound, juicy, chewy 100% Certified Angus beef burger — available on bun or po-boy bread — is just too good to miss.

(20335 Old Scenic Hwy. in Zachary, 16400 Airline Hwy. in Prairieville, 14800 Wax Rd. in Central and 8635 Highland Rd. in Baton Rouge)

It’s very important (and challenging) to be able to distinguish Roul’s from Raul’s. Of course, devotees of either won’t have that trouble. But for the Baton Rouge burger layman, Roul’s Deli, in Baton Rouge, Baker and Gonzales, offers a greasy-spoon experience along with its burgers, including the SHAM triple burger or a burger topped with chicken, steak and/or shrimp. Get over to Raul’s for its Mega Burger with Shrimp, a food bet in the making if we’ve ever seen one. It’s a 10-ounce burger, dressed, with 5 ounces of fried or grilled shrimp on top of it.

(Roul’s locations: 3327 Highland Rd. and 5230 Plank Rd. in Baton Rouge, 812 N. Burnside Ave. in Gonzales and 150 Main St. in Baker) (Raul’s locations: 7111 B Airline Hwy. and 1183 S. Flannery Rd. in Baton Rouge)

Burgersmith, with two locations in Baton Rouge, one in Lafayette, and one in Denham Springs, has the tagline “Let the drooling begin.” Sounds like a good idea, and easily achievable just by reading the menu. All locations of Burgersmith are full-service and family-friendly, and the burgers are chargrilled and many of the condiments are made from scratch.

It’s also one of the only spots offering a grass-fed bison burger, served with lettuce, tomato, red onion, chipotle mayo and smoked gouda. And the much-loved turkey burger sacrifices no flavor while using a leaner protein. For traditionalists, check out the brisket burger, and don’t overlook the signature Smith burger seasoned with Louisiana spices and topped with grilled onions and secret “Smith Sauce.” I don’t know what’s in that sauce, and I’m scared to ask. But a little mystery makes life worth living.

(3613 Perkins Rd. and 6212 Siegen Ln., in Baton Rouge, 27853 Juban Rd. in Denham Springs, and 1314 Camellia Blvd. in Lafayette)

Burger joints, diners and casual restaurants aren’t the only place to get great burgers in the Baton Rouge area. Some fancier places also offer hamburgers, often limited to their more casual lunch or brunch menus.

Family owned Sno’s Seafood & Steakhouse in Gonzales serves a first-rate cheeseburger on a soft sesame seed brioche bun, but the bacon gorgonzola bleu cheese version is the real standout. Save room for caramel custard.

(13131 Airline Hwy. in Gonzales)

Juban’s, a fine-dining restaurant that opened in 1983, kicked off the high-end, Creole-influenced trend in the Baton Rouge area. Although dinner dishes run to duck breasts, bone-in double-cut pork chops and Juban’s signature Hallelujah Crab, you can find their insanely excellent burger hidden on the lunch and brunch menu.

The Creole Sirloin burger is made with a combination of ground sirloin and pork sausage — Juban’s is one of the only places in town that serves a mixed-meat burger, taking the same kind of daring culinary approach that has done them well these last 30+ years. It’s dressed simply, to accentuate the quality and flavor of the meat, but add-ons include cheddar, gruyère, bleu cheese or havarti and/or a fried egg.

(3739 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge)

Overpass Merchant is Baton Rouge’s newest gastropub and makes its own house blend of ground chuck, brisket and short rib cuts for its burger. “The Merch,” as it’s nicknamed, isn’t particularly fancy but it’s a bit more than a burger joint. Try the burger topped with an egg, bacon, onion jam and your choice of American, aged cheddar or Maytag blue cheese. It’s available on the lunch, brunch and dinner menus.

Along with what many local gourmands are calling one of the best burgers in town, Overpass Merchant also has 12 taps of microbrewed beer including local and national brands.

(2904 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge)

Everything at Bin 77 Bistro and Sidebar is delicious, including the Bin Burger — a gourmet beef burger with caramelized onions, fire-roasted garlic ketchup and roasted bell pepper aioli. The burger’s received local props for being an approachable, casual menu item that stands out among the more fine-dining, Italian-influenced dishes.

The bold flavors of the burger pair perfectly with many reds on the wine list, like the Tuscan Podernuovo a Palazzone. But don’t overlook the cocktail list or the selection of beers — a burger’s best friend.

Note: Although it has an extensive food menu, Bin 77 is considered a bar, so kids under the age of 18 aren’t permitted.

(10111 Perkins Rowe, Baton Rouge)

Another hidden menu item gem at a more upscale restaurant is the burger du jour (on Beausoleil’s new bar-only menu) with toppings that change daily according to the chef’s whims and served by what’s been called one of the best bartending staffs in Baton Rouge. Beausoleil also has a classic cheeseburger with caramelized onions on its lunch menu, which is ooey-gooey delicious.

(7731 Jefferson Hwy., Baton Rouge)

Even though it’s a national chain, the only Louisiana location of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar boasts one of the best burgers in the city. The Prime Burger is made with the best-quality meat scraps and topped with your choice of cheddar, Swiss or bleu cheese, along with thick slabs of smoky, peppered bacon.

It’s only available at the bar, though, so belly on up there — especially for Happy Hour, between 5PM and 7PM, when this $10 burger can be had for only $8.

(7321 Corporate Blvd., Baton Rouge)

Baton Rouge-based Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar, with locations throughout Louisiana and expanding into more of the South, is the place to go to watch the game, drink a beer and have a burger. Try the Stuffed burger oozing with American and mozzarella cheeses and topped with bacon on a sourdough bun. Or the Jalapeño Jack topped with Pepper Jack cheese, fried jalapeños and chipotle mayo. They’ve also got the classic burger and classic burger toppings like mushrooms and Swiss cheese, bacon and fried egg, and BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese and bacon.

(Multiple locations in the Greater Baton Rouge area — the original location is located at 3838 Burbank Dr., Baton Rouge)

Your Mom’s Restaurant & Bar has locations in both Baton Rouge and Hammond, and its burger game is on point. Some of the state’s most original burgers — like the burger topped with a boudin patty; the burger topped with fried pickles, Pepper Jack cheese and ranch dressing on a jalapeño and cheese bun; the Aloha burger topped with grilled ham and a BBQ-sauce-marinated pineapple ring; and the Peanut Butter and Jelly Bacon burger — populate Your Mom’s menu. Also, the name Your Mom’s is pretty awesome.

Everything’s made from scratch, and the hand-formed burgers are all a half-pound. When you include the insane toppings, that’s a big ole burger. Wear something you don’t mind getting burger juice on. Or a bib. Your Mom says so.

(111 E. Morris Ave., Hammond and 250 W. Lee Dr., Baton Rouge)

When your group can’t decide between sushi and burgers, head over to Cate Street Seafood Station in Hammond. Not only does it have a very diverse menu, but the burgers are creative and executed to perfection.

Executive Chef Jason Wong says that his kitchen grinds its meat in house from its ribeye, filet and sirloin steak trimmings. The standout burger on the menu is the Hangover burger, a half-pound, handmade patty topped with Pepper Jack cheese, fried egg, bacon and avocado on a pretzel bun. The eponymous Cate Street burger is also a winner, topped with mozzarella cheese, sautéed mushrooms and baby spinach.

This place also has a great beer list and live music, and occupies a historic former train station.

(308 S. Cate St., Hammond)

The Mariner’s Inn in Hammond has been serving up steaks and burgers since 1979. You can get one of their half-pound burgers on Texas toast, French bread or a house-made bun, baked daily.

Try the Cajun-style Black & Bleu burger topped with the restaurant’s bleu cheese dressing while studying the antique firearms (and a cannon) on display, or try the Mushroom-Bacon cheeseburger they call “the Heartstopper.” You get your choice of sides, which includes a baked potato with butter, sour cream and chives.

(117 W. Thomas St., Hammond)

MOOYAH is the local outpost of an international chain that plays hard in the game of beef. It’s got an old-school-diner vibe, and its griddle-cooked burger can be customized — choose bread, sauces, fresh vegetables and other toppings. MOOYAH’s also gets props for having a decent gluten-free/low-carb option for its burgers: You can put one of MOOYAH’s specialty burgers — or one you built yourself — in an iceburg lettuce wrap called the Iceburger.

(6555 Siegen Ln. #6, Baton Rouge)

Coming Soon: Bud’s Broiler

In the very near future, New Orleans’ local bare-bones burger chain Bud’s Broiler will open its first Baton Rouge location to share the joys of 65 years (and counting) of chargrilled burger goodness. It’s about as basic as you can get, and economical to boot. Although straight-up dressed hamburgers and cheeseburgers are always a good bet, try the much-loved #4, topped with grated cheddar cheese (New Orleans style) and your choice of chili or hickory sauce.

Bud’s Broiler hopes to have its Baton Rouge location (4343 Nicholson Dr., Baton Rouge) open by football season of 2017, so stay tuned for that.