The humble hamburger is a menu mainstay at restaurants everywhere, from the cheapest of fast-food joints to the finest of fine dining. When in doubt or indecision, a burger is a reliably safe bet. From its American beginnings at the turn of the 20th century and evolution into a sandwich staple that caters to all — carnivore to vegan — the burger is synonymous with the American diet. For some of the best burgers and burger deals in the Inland Northwest, look no further than this round-up of local favorites.
A round-up of some of the Inlander staff's favorite burgers around the region. What are yours?
Smash Burger ($12)
The Elk Public House
The Elk's Smash Burger doesn't try to do too much. But, somehow, it does so much. The brilliance is in the two burger patties — two juicy, hand-smashed, melt-in-your-mouth, three-ounce patties. It's a huge step up from the Elk's previous signature burger, the Moon Burger, which had just one six-ounce patty. Two years ago, the Elk moved away from the Moon Burger in favor of the the Smash Burger (also featured at Geno's, a restaurant under the same ownership).
With two patties, the Smash Burger packs in more flavor, and more grease, to mix with the Thousand Island dressing, the diced pickles and onions, the melted American cheese and the toasted bun. It may not blow you away at first bite. No, the Smash Burger has higher aspirations. It aims to blow you away on the last bite. You try it again and again, expecting it to be great every time. And again and again, the Smash Burger delivers. 1931 W. Pacific • 363-1973 (WILSON CRISCIONE)
Run of the Mill Burger ($12)
Timber Gastro Pub
This so-called Run of the Mill burger is anything but, yet we like double-puns (note the logging industry reference). Anybody can amp up a burger with a few pieces of bacon; Timber Gastropub grinds pork belly into their all-beef chuck. Pork belly, as we know, comes from the same region as bacon, only it's fattier (and fat equals flavor).
You taste the meat in this burger, twice actually; as all burgers feature two patties (which could equate to two meals for some). After the meat, you'll taste the cheddar's sharpness and, for more contrasts, there's red onion, lettuce, tomato and house-made pickles. Served alongside crispy, salty fries and scratch-made ketchup, this classic American meal goes beyond the common. For a few bucks more, have your mind blown by any of Timber's piled-on burger variations, knowing that those burgers are better for having been Run of the Mill first. 1610 E. Schneidmiller Ave., Post Falls • 208-262-9593 (CARRIE SCOZZARO)
Single Burger ($16)
Durkin's Liquor Bar
Whenever I find myself in one of the cushy booths at Durkin's, I tell myself, "I'm finally going to get something other than the burger." More often than not, however, common sense prevails and I just end up ordering the burger again. It's just too good to pass up.
On paper, the Durkin's burger doesn't seem like it's going to be much. After all, it's only got red onions, pickle and dill mayo on it. This burger turns out to be surprising in a couple of ways, because not only is its name a misnomer (it actually comes with two generous patties; upgrade to a "double" with three patties for $3 more) but it's delicious and decadent despite foregoing a lot of traditional burger accoutrements. The combination of the juicy, flavorful beef and the sharp tang of the cheese is a thing of beauty, and I'm still not quite sure how they pull it off. 415 W. Main St. • 863-9501 (NATHAN WEINBENDER)
Double Cheeseburger ($6.65)
This tiny '50s-style lunch counter near Gonzaga (there's another Wolffy's location in Airway Heights) is a must-visit for anyone fond of old-school burgers cooked right in front of you. You can't really go wrong with anything on the menu, but I'm fond of the juicy double cheeseburger: two beef patties, each topped with a slice of cheese, a pickle, tomato and a special sauce (which I typically ask for on the side for fry dipping). Onions are optional, and you can ask for them to be grilled (and you should). This burger is less than $7, and it's way more filling than the price might suggest. You might have to wait for a seat, but it's worth it. 1229 N. Hamilton St. • 487-1587 (NATHAN WEINBENDER)
The Bean Beet Burger ($12)
Cascadia Public House
This Northside spot, voted by Inlander readers as Best New Restaurant Opened in 2017-18, is quickly making a name for itself for vegetarian and vegan options, among a creative menu of omnivore and pub-friendly comfort food staples. And while their Impossible Burger ($16), a plant-based patty that tastes remarkably like beef, is getting a lot of buzz, I prefer the bright red Bean Beet Burger. It's a monster — seriously, splitting it between two people is a wise decision — and makes a nice base for a slew of fresh toppings like slices of red onion, butter lettuce, tomato and cilantro. Add a dollop of vegan chipotle aioli to the Alpine Bakery Bun and you're in business with a burger unlike any other in town 6314 N. Ash St. • 321-7051 (DAN NAILEN)
The Inland Northwest is rich in delicious hamburgers, and this South Hill favorite manages to stick out from the crowd with its fresh-ground beef done daily on-site, creative array of ever-changing "grind of the week" special burgers and a cool vibe in which to chow down with a tasty beverage. There are always arguments about the "best" of an American classic, but Inlander readers have spoken and they love Wisconsinburger — this is their fourth straight win in this category. 916 S. Hatch St. • 241-3083