To foodies, especially burger lovers, May is known as National Hamburger Month. All throughout May, events are held with restaurants offering up special burgers. Many places hold competitions to vote on the best burger. And all types of publications and blogs provide their list of favorite burgers. As The Appropriate Omnivore, I’ve decided to do my first annual list of best grass fed burgers.
While more people understand the concept of grass fed beef, unfortunately the USDA requirements for a grass fed label simply mean the animal was fed grass one day. So now ranchers are using the term “100% grass fed”. All of the entries on this list both use meat from farms I’m familiar and meat which is indeed 100% grass fed.
Belcampo is a chain of butcher shops supplied with meat from its own 25,000 acres of farmland in Mount Shasta. All their shops also have restaurants serving a wide variety dishes featuring their meats, including burgers. One of their most popular burgers is the Belcampo burger. This is a take on the gourmet burger with 28-day dry aged, beef, caramelized onions, and served in a brioche bun. Their other well known burger is the double fast burger. The double fast is reminiscent of the fast food burgers we grew up with, but with better ingredients and a much better taste. Many of their shops also offer fries cooked in beef tallows and ones cooked in duck fat. Belcampo has additional locations in the Bay area and one in New York City.
Another successful grass fed burger chain is Burger Lounge. Originating in San Diego, they’ve been popping up all over Los Angeles in the past decade and more recently have opened restaurants in Orange County, the Inland Empire, northern California and Las Vegas. Their beef is sourced from Grass Run Farms in Iowa. If you get cheese in your burger, it’s pasture raised cheese from Rumiano, which is based in California. Burger Lounge works hard to also get all of their other ingredients from sustainable sources. The hamburger buns are baked with organic wheat. The 1000 island dressing for the burgers is made from scratch. Their french fries are cooked in a peanut oil, which gets converted into biofuel to be used in everything from delivery trucks to buses. Burger Lounge is even sustainable in terms of recyclable to-go packing, composting leftover food, and using table tops made from recycled water bottles.
A Cut Above
A Cut Above was founded from acclaimed chef Eddy Shin, who has spent over 20 years working at high end restaurants. He also was featured on the History series Modern Marvels in an episode titled “The Butcher”. Their beef comes from Novy Ranches in Mount Shasta. A Cut Above offers a diverse menu of sandwiches and salads. Among these items is a grass fed burger made from a blend of short rib, ribeye, and brisket, topped with caramelized onions, blue cheese, and a fresh Russian dressing, and served on a brioche bun.
The newest restaurant on this list is already making a giant splash not only in the sustainable food world, but in the burger world overall. HiHo Cheeseburger recently won Los Angeles Magazine‘s annual Burger Bracket for the second year in a row. Earlier this month, it was awarded the people’s choice at the burger battle in the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl. Their beef comes from First Light Farms, which is a collective of 61 farmers in New Zealand raising wagyu cattle. HiHo’s burgers also contain organic lettuce and ketchup free of high fructose corn syrup.
The word “pono’ is Hawaiian for “to do things the right way”. This fits well with Pono Burger’s practices as they source their ingredients from local farmers markets and organic and sustainable farms. Their beef, in particular, comes from Eel River, which is located in Humboldt Country and part of the business collective Humboldt Made. They offer a variety of burgers, including a spicy burger, one with fig jam and brie, a burger with Niman Ranch bacon, onion rings, and BBQ sauce Pono makes themselves, one with truffle oil, mushrooms, and kale, and also the option to build your own burger.