It’s been said that the average American eats three burgers in a week. After devouring the list of the Best Burgers in Greater Des Moines, as voted by locals, that number might need to be rounded up a bit. Whether you prefer smash burgers, veggie burgers or zombie burgers, you’ll find something that will make you say “Cheese(burgers)”! Just make sure your burger goals include a side of fries.
Lachele's Fine Foods
You know how marketing photos usually make burgers look amazing, but then you order one and it looks nothing like the photo? Lachele’s Fine Food flips the script and theirs look even better in person, which is saying something (see the photo below for proof). But who cares how it looks, you’re here for how it tastes...and with gooey cheese, fresh smash burger patties and a soft bun that practically melds into the meat, the answer is “more than fine.” The hype here is earned.
Zombie Burger became all the rage a few years ago when zombies invaded the pop culture consciousness and have remained popular, because you can’t kill something this good, even if you aim for the brain. With around 25 different “gore-met” burger options (The Raygun is our personal fave), the one that made them famous is the Walking Ched, with its deep-fried macaroni and cheese bun. For those who prefer sweet to scary, they also have cereal milkshakes with fan favorites like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Crunchberry. Bone Appetit!
Who needs In-N-Out Burger when you have B-Bop's? (But seriously, who do we talk to about getting a Shake Shack?) B-Bop’s has been slinging classic charbroiled burgers at 11 locations for more than 30 years. The double drive-thru 1950’s themed burger joint has become a lock for the Cityview Best Burger and Fries in Central Iowa award, proving that sometimes simple is best. Besides, who are we to disagree with Jason Momoa?
Known for their southern comfort style food, Bubba has a couple of burgers on their menu that will make you go “hubba hubba!” The Bubba burger ups the ante with pimento cheese and pecan-smoked bacon, served on a South Union Bakery brioche bun with bread and butter pickles. Pair with sweet potato fries or red beans and rice if you really want to lean into the Southern thing. Southern charm, Iowa nice, and mouth-watering burgers, what’s not to love?
Django is all about accessible French cuisine, but if you let your eyes wander down the menu a bit, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best made-to-order burgers in town. Le Royale with Cheese – +1 for the Pulp Fiction reference – has white cheddar sauce and a fried egg atop a South Union bun (pro tip: any time you see a sandwich served on a South Union bun, don’t pass it up). And while you’d be rightfully inclined to order French Fries at a French restaurant, the onion rings here are an unsung hero that will have you saying “Oh la la!”
Come for beer, stay for the burgers. Their burgers come double-pattied and cooked 1950’s style on a flat top grill. With around ten options, including an always interesting Burger of the Month, you can go the classic route by ordering the ’55 burger (American cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, special sauce) or spice things up with the Barn Fire (burger patty, house chorizo patty, jalapeno relish, and queso fresco). Sub in a pretzel bun if you’re throwing caution to the wind. Pair with a pint of Neon or even a whole beer flight, because why not?
They say you’re not supposed to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. One way to remedy that is to grab a burger from Gateway Market before you finish your meal planning. Of course, then you run the risk of scrapping the meal plan and just eating at Gateway Café every night. The Mushroom Swiss burger is a standout, with an 8 oz patty, swiss, sautéed mushroom and onion, and rosemary mushroom beef gravy (that’s the stuff) on a sesame bun.
Dirt Burger in the East Village has been shattering stereotypes since 2016. You’ll find nothing but 100% plant-based burgers at Dirt Burger. It’s a vegetarian’s dream, but it packs enough flavor and creativity to win over even the most dubious meat eater. These aren’t just your typical burgers with ketchup, mustard, and pickles – even though you could order one like that. Here you’ll find burgers with bbq and jalapenos (Austin BBQ), hot pepper cheese and jalapeno broccoli slaw (Volcano), and avocado and shitake and brussels sprout cole slaw (Cobra Kai)!
This new brewery in Sherman Hill is no stranger to making “best of” lists for their beer, including their already legendary push pop beers – but their burgers are starting to make noise as well. The Lua Smush Burger is a master class in simplicity that begets complexity. The house-ground chuck, white American, house pickles, fried onion, and Lua sauce on a toasted bun are a flavor explosion whose mystery can only be solved by ordering more beer.
Ask for some extra napkins ahead of time, because these burgers come piled high at this neighborhood hotspot. Our faves are the Merlot Mushroom Burger with swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and Merlot aioli and the Boursin Burger with sautéed onions, homemade garlic and herb-infused cheese, and finished with pesto. The hardest decision is whether you should order your burger with Parmesan truffle fries or tots. (The answer is “both.”)
You’re probably not going to B&B’s Grocery for the ambiance, but who needs ambiance when the only thing you’re going to remember is the legendary burger anyway? Legendary as in the Quadzilla...four grilled beef patties (yes, we said four), American cheese, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, onion, and pickles and a grilled bun. Andrew Zimmern with Bizarre Foods named B&B Grocery one of the top burger joints in the Midwest and their tenderloin earns raves as well. And before you start to get burger anxiety, they also have burgers that don’t include four patties!
Mulberry Street Tavern
Speaking of hotspots, The Mulberry Tavern, located in the new Surety Hotel, fits the bill with heat to spare. This date night burger is a two-fister, with a giant made-to-order patty, pickles, caper-mayo, and American cheese on a toasted bun. It’s great no matter what you wash it down with but pairing it with a craft cocktail like Smoke and Mirrors will put it over the top.
Every year the Iowa Beef Council releases its list of the Top 10 Burgers in Iowa. And (almost) every year Ankeny Diner makes the list. Proving you don’t need to be trendy to be good, Ankeny Diner is as All-American as it gets. Whether you go for the Patty Melt, Maytag Burger or Rarebit Burger, these are made-to-order and made-to-please.
Located in Altoona, Burger Shed is a nod to the company’s first place – the popular homestyle restaurant Machine Shed in Urbandale. We’ll give you one guess as to what this one specializes in. With more than ten burgers, including vegetarian options, you can’t go wrong with choices like the Mac Attack Burger (mac and cheese and bacon jam!) and Reuben Burger. And we’ll be honest, we’re suckers for the cool BS brand on the top of each bun.
During the pandemic, Clyde’s Fine Diner in the East Village got creative and shifted to a burger takeout concept, which they dubbed Clyde’s Fine Burgers. They’re back to the original concept, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still order the burger. Their namesake smash burger is as delicious as anything on the menu, and coming from a place that serves the best Nashville hot chicken on this side (or any side) of Nashville, that’s saying something!