25 of the Craziest Burger Toppings in the U.S.

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iStock

There are plenty of ways to dress a burger besides lettuce, cheese, and tomato. (Sushi? Um, okay.) In preparation for National Hamburger Day on May 28, we’re serving up the most unique burger-enhancing toppings in the U.S.

1. HOT FUDGE // MCGUIRE'S IRISH PUB // PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

Why wait for dessert? Patrons of the Irish saloon can mix sweet and savory by ordering a three-quarter-pounder Black Angus beef burger covered in a scoop of hot fudge-drizzled vanilla ice cream.

2. RAMEN // RAMEN BURGER // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Keizo Shimamoto's iconic Ramen Burgers can be found stateside at various flea markets and food courts across New York. This burger packs USDA prime beef patties between noodle-buns seasoned with scallions and shoyu glaze. At the height of the craze, hundreds of diners lined up to try this phenomenal burger creation.

3. CREAM CHEESE // GRILL 'EM ALL // ALHAMBRA, CALIFORNIA

Heavy metal-inspired Grill 'Em All's food truck and restaurant (Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider has eaten there!) has two cream cheese-topped offerings: Napalm Death, which also has pickled jalapeño, jalapeño poppers, and habanero aioli; and the Witte with deep-fried bacon, Sriracha, grilled onion, and malt vinegar aioli. Cream cheese is a frequent addition to their rotating burgers of the week, and the joint has been featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate and won Season 1 of The Great Food Truck Race.

4. PEANUT MAYONNAISE // MATT'S PLACE // BUTTE, MONTANA

Nut Burger at Matt's Place
Craig L., Yelp

At The Treasure State’s oldest drive-in restaurant, the most popular menu choice is a surprising one. Those in the know opt for the Nutburger—a beef patty covered in a crushed peanut mayonnaise.

5. PULLED PORK // B SPOT // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

A carnivore’s delight! The menu at this casual eatery, with eight locations in the Midwest including Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit and Indianapolis, includes the award-winning Porky: a burger covered in pulled pork, coleslaw and Cleveland-style barbecue sauce (made with brown mustard).

6. MANGO, PEAR, AND PINE NUTS // FLIP BURGER BOUTIQUE // ATLANTA

At Top Chef All Stars winner Richard Blais’ upscale burger joint—where they claim to “take the American classic and flip it on its head”—you can order burgers comprised of steak tartare, shrimp, lamb, and bison. But perhaps the most unique offering is the raw tuna tartare patty that comes dressed with soy dressing and wasabi mayo, and topped with Asian pear, avocado puree, pine nuts, and a mango sphere.

7. BACON GRILLED CHEESE // VORTEX BAR & GRILL // ATLANTA

Atlanta’s Vortex Bar & Grill ups the ante with their Triple Coronary Bypass: two patty melts and a bacon grilled cheese serve as buns. The sandwich consists of two slices of white bread, four slices of thick, buttery Texas toast, 18 strips of bacon, 24 ounces of sirloin, 18 slices of American cheese, three fried eggs, and mayo. The 7000-plus calorie meal comes with cheese- and bacon bits-covered tots.

8. FRIED BANANA AND PEANUT BUTTER // BOSTON BURGER COMPANY // BOSTON

The King burget at Boston Burger Co
Christina O., Yelp

Many burger joints offer tributes to Elvis Presley and his love for peanut butter and banana sandwiches. (Order up variations at The Vortex Bar & Grill in Atlanta and Grumpy’s Bar & Grill in Minneapolis.) At Boston Burger Company it’s The King, which is layered with peanut butter, bacon, and fried bananas, and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Have mercy!

9. DOUGHNUTS // CYPRESS STREET PINT & PLATE // ATLANTA

The concept of doughnuts-as-buns isn’t exclusive to famed Minneapolis food truck Eli's Donut Burgers—The Original in Portland, Oregon offers a glazed buttermilk donut slider appetizer, and Chicago’s Buzz Bar was known to serve up a doughnut burger with truffle aioli and caramelized strawberries. Presently, at Cypress Street Pint & Plate, the Sublime Doughnut Burger is served with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and caramelized onions sandwiched between local bakery Sublime's freshly baked doughnuts. (Sublime has their own take on the burger, as well.)

10. CAESAR DRESSING // LITTLE MIKE'S HAMBURGERS // OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

The specialty at this Oklahoma City institution is the Caesar Burger, which is drenched in the creamy dressing. Bonus: You can tell yourself you basically ordered a salad.

11. STUFFING AND CRANBERRY SAUCE // WAHLBURGERS // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

thanksgiving burger at wahlburgers
Wahlburgers

Celebrate Thanksgiving all year at Wahlburgers, the famous burger chain backed by Mark Wahlberg and his brothers Paul and Donnie. (So far there are locations in Massachusetts, Florida, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania.) The famed siblings crafted the Thanksgiving Day Sandwich with seasoned turkey, stuffing, and roasted butternut squash, and slathered it with housemade orange cranberry sauce and mayo.

12. JAM // WEST EGG CAFÉ // ATLANTA

At West Egg Café, burgers are topped with tomato jam, pimento cheese, and bacon to create the “PB&J." At Boston Burger Company, "the Sophie" uses fig jam with prosciutto, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and arugula.

13. CAVIAR // SERENDIPITY 3 // NEW YORK CITY

Ordering the Le Burger Extravagant at this Manhattan tourist landmark will get you a Wagyu beef burger infused with 10-herb truffle butter, topped with 18-month-old cave-aged cheddar, shaved black truffles, fried quail egg, and Kaluga caviar. Of course, you’ll need to plan in advance (48 hours) and pony up a whopping $295 for this burger, which is held together with a solid gold, diamond-encrusted toothpick. (You can finish off the decadence with the $1000 Tahitian vanilla bean and edible gold leaf sundae.) If that’s too rich for your blood, they also offer a more modest caviar burger with sour cream and cucumber, a steal at $18.50.

14. FRIED ICE CREAM // FLORIDA STATE FAIR // TAMPA, FLORIDA

Among the fare for sale at the annual Florida State Fair in Tampa: a bacon cheeseburger covered in lettuce, onions, pickles, tomatoes … and one sizeable scoop of deep fried ice cream.

15. PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY // SLATER'S 50/50 // SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Peanut Butter and Jealousy Burger at Slaters 50/50
Aselicia S., Yelp

The Southern California outpost (there are also shops in Anaheim Hills, Huntington Beach, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, and San Marcos) has no shortage of creative dishes. See: the Sriracha Burger and the Hawaiian, which comes with spam. But the Peanut Butter & Jellousy may be the most out there, with peanut butter and strawberry jelly covering a slab of beef and bacon (plus, it gets major points for its name).

16. FRITOS // FIFTH THIRD BALLPARK // COMSTOCK PARK, MICHIGAN

Each year, just north of Grand Rapids, fans of the city’s minor league baseball team the West Michigan Whitecaps are given the chance to vote a new food item into the stadium’s concession stand. The 2009 offering stuck: a giant slab of five patties, American cheese, chili, salsa, nacho cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and Fritos. The burger can be cut into four pieces with a pizza cutter for sharing, but finishing the entire 5000 calorie sandwich by the end of the game earns you a T-shirt and your photo in the Fifth Third Burger Wall of Fame. Batter up!

17. FOIE GRAS AND TRUFFLES // BURGER BAR // LAS VEGAS

Indulge your late night cravings on the Las Vegas Strip with chef Hubert Keller's $60 Rossini burger. He tops Australian Wagyu beef with sautéed foie gras, shaved truffles, and black truffle sauce. Or feel free to add your own creation. The restaurant’s list of toppings includes coleslaw, macaroni salad, asparagus, pineapple, and large shrimp, among others.

18. KIMCHI // UMAMI BURGER // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

The popular chain—with locations in California, New York, and Chicago—offers a Korean barbecue-inspired dish that comes with Gochujang glaze, sesame aioli, Korean ketchup, and caramelized kimchi.

19. SHRIMP // BURGER & BEER JOINT // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

At this Sunshine State favorite, you can order burgers named after classic rock songs like the Paradise City, where the beef is thick (a half pound) and topped with poached and seared Cajun spiced shrimp.

20. MAC AND CHEESE // ZOMBIE BURGER + DRINK LAB // DES MOINES, IOWA

Walking ched burger at zombie burger
SanDee W., Yelp

At the quirky, undead-themed restaurant you can choose from cleverly named burgers such as the Dawn of the Dead, They’re Coming to Get You Barbara, and The Walking Ched. The last shoves a burger, cheddar cheese, and a scoop of macaroni and cheese between two pieces of deep-fried mac and cheese.

21. PIZZA // NOSH // PORTLAND, MAINE

This is no ordinary pizza burger. At Nosh, the Slab Burger uses two slices of pie to sandwich a beef patty, provolone cheese, red pepper, marinara, and pesto.

22. HOT DOG // MOTHER'S FEDERAL HILL GRILLE // BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

No need to decide between two barbecue classics at this Maryland eatery. Order up The Dog [PDF] and have your Angus beef topped off with an all beef hot dog, chili, and cheese sauce.

23. SUSHI // 26 BEACH // VENICE, CALIFORNIA

California roll burger at 26 beach
Christine T., Yelp

This oceanside spot claims to make the only California roll hamburger in the world. To make the one-of-a-kind burger, they take a beef patty then stack it with snow crab salad, avocado, sushi ginger, lettuce, tomato, nori, and wasabi shoyu mayonnaise.

24. BUTTER AND MAPLE SYRUP // BUTTERMILK KITCHEN // ATLANTA

Breakfast burger? Bring it on! Order the special Dad’s Waffle ($13 at this Southern eatery) and bite into a huge burger patty on a sourdough waffle, doused in butter and maple syrup.

25. COMMUNION WAFER // KUMA'S CORNER // CHICAGO

In 2013, the Chicago kitchen created a holy controversy with their "Ghost" burger. After local Catholics objected to the deity—a burger with ghost chile aioli, goat shoulder, a red wine reduction they dubbed the blood of Christ, and an unconsecrated communion wafer—the restaurant promised to donate $1500 to the Catholic Charities of the Chicago Archdiocese. Their offering was refused.

A version of this story originally ran in 2016.

The Disputed Origins of Publix’s Chicken Tender Subs

Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

After Popeyes released its new chicken sandwich last week, a heated battle broke out on Twitter over which fast food chain offers the best one. Favorites included Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, and KFC, but the Publix chicken tender sub was mostly absent from the dialogue. Maybe it’s because Publix is a supermarket rather than a fast food restaurant, or maybe the southern chain is too specific to Florida and its neighboring states to warrant a national ranking.

Either way, the chicken tender sub is a cult culinary classic among Publix customers—there’s even an independently run website devoted to announcing when the subs are on sale (they aren’t right now), and affiliated Facebook and Twitter accounts with tens of thousands of followers. So whom do sub devotees have to thank for inventing the Publix food mashup from heaven? A Facebook user named Dave Charls says, “Me!,” but Publix begs to differ.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that in May of this year, a man named Dave Charls posted a message on the “Are Publix Chicken Tender Subs On Sale?” Facebook page recounting his origin story for the menu item, which allegedly took place in 1997 or 1998. At Charls explains it, he and his co-worker Kevin convinced their friend Philip, a deli worker at the Fleming Island Publix location, to assemble a sub with chicken tenders and ring it up as one item—something that deli workers had refused to do for Dave and Kevin in the past. According to Dave, Philip then convinced his manager to make it a special, publicized it via chalkboard sign, and the idea spread like hot sauce.

“You’re welcome,” Charls said. “It was actually Kevin’s idea and Philip brought it to life.”

Publix, however, told the Tampa Bay Times that its recorded documentation for a chicken tender sub recipe and procedure goes all the way back to 1992 or 1993. Based on that information, Publix spokesperson Brian West confirmed that Charls's heroic account of the origin is more fairytale than fact (though West, unfortunately, doesn’t have an equally thrilling origin story—or any story at all—with which to replace it).

Charls didn’t respond to a request from the Tampa Bay Times for comment, so we may never know how much of his claim is actually true. It’s possible, of course, that Publix’s 1992 (or 1993) chicken tender sub recipe hadn’t gained momentum by the time Kevin’s moment of culinary genius struck in 1997 (or 1998), and the lack of date specificity suggests that neither party knows exactly how it went down. What is incontrovertible, however, is the deliciousness of Publix's beloved sub sandwich.

"I'm just happy to live in the same timeline as this beautiful sandwich," says die-hard Pub Sub fan (and Mental Floss video producer/editor) Justin Dodd. “Copyright claims aside, it's truly a wonderful thing."

This London Pub Might Be the Most Ethical Bar in the World

Ridofranz/Getty Images
Ridofranz/Getty Images

Pub owner Randy Rampersad is doing his part for sustainability. In June, he opened the Green Vic—a play on the fictional Queen Vic pub in the soap opera EastEnders—in the East London neighborhood of Shoreditch. The Telegraph reports it’s aiming to be the world’s most ethical pub: Rampersad eschews plastic and paper straws and opts for gluten-free wheat “straws.” He sources the bar's 100 percent recycled toilet paper from green-minded company Who Gives a Crap, and the communal wooden tables are upcycled.

“I wanted to make the world a better place and run my own business, but I was waiting for that eureka moment,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. He discovered no one had done anything like this before.

There’s no meat on the menu—the food is totally vegan, healthy-ish pub grub. You can add CBD oil to the “chkn" bites appetizer, and the burgers are made from ingredients like soy, seaweed, and sweet potato. The beers are produced by ethical brewers, too: Toast Ale uses unsold loaves and crusts of bread; Good Things Brewing crafts its beer from 100 percent renewable energy; South Africa’s Afro Vegan Cider donates money to an organization that funds equal pay for female farmers; and Brewgooder donates to water projects.

In fact, everything the Green Vic does has charity in mind. “We don't care about the money, I’m planet first and profit after,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. Up to 80 percent of its profits will go to charitable causes, including local food banks. As for the staff, one in four are from marginalized groups. The Green Vic plans to operate as a three-month pop-up pub while scouting for longer term investment.

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