From the first to the last bite, The Diplomac from The Diplomat
is a masterpiece. Like the McDonald’s Big Mac in spirit and far surpassing it in quality, this hefty double-fister features two succulent prime beef patties topped with tomato, lettuce, Thousand Island dressing, pickles and red onion. And what brings it all home is the buttery homemade sesame seed bun, lightly toasted.
Mon 4-10 p.m.; Tues-Fri 4-6 p.m.
815 E. Brady St.
The cooks at Merriment Social
change the toppings on this brainchild each week, but two basics are the same – the juicy quarter-pound beef patty and toasted house-made milk bun. What you’re seeing here is a very juicy patty melt with pickled sweet corn, beef cheek marmalade and ramp salsa verde. Extra credit for thinking creatively.
Tues-Fri 4-6 p.m.
240 E. Pittsburgh Ave.
This sets the bar for a budget burger. Loaded with flavor, rich and fatty in all the right ways, Birch + Butcher’s
double cheeseburger uses to full effect some house-made touches – a dark-grain, sweet sesame-seed bun, bacon jam, a ground sirloin/steak-trim patty and house-made red-beet ketchup. The cheese has ranged from creamy Widmer’s spread to earthy cheddar-blue hybrid Roelli Red Rock
. Seasonal topping variations are coming this summer.
Mon-Fri 4-6 p.m., only at the bar.
459 E. Pleasant St.
Grand Royale With Cheese is the closest visual match to a Big Mac – two thin beef (brisket) patties, shredded lettuce, melted cheese (not processed American but nicely fatty-creamy German butterkäse), sliced pickles and a Thousand Island-like sauce on a sesame seed bun. It’s a solid effort, the haute version of a fast food icon. Plus, “Royale With Cheese” is a riff on a scene (about European McDonald’s) in the classic film Pulp Fiction
Mon-Fri 4-6 p.m.
316 N. Milwaukee St.