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Top 400 Chain Menu Trends: Burgermania! – US Food Trends

02 August 2007
Top 400 Chain Menu Trends: Burgermania! – US Food Trends

100+ burger builds worth trying from Top 400 chains.

This article first appeared in the 15 July 2007 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).

R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. To find out more about R&I, visit its website here >>

Web exclusive: An interview with Denny's R&D chef Peter Gibbons on Building Better Burgers >>

By Scott Hume, Executive Editor

Burgers are the "iconic American food" and the common denominator by which many chain menus are evaluated by consumers, says Peter Gibbons, vice president for product development at Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny's.

Spicy

4-Alarm Burger: Beef patty, pepper-Jack cheese and smoky chipotle mayo Bakers Square

JalapeÁ±o Burger: Beef patty, pickled jalapeÁ±os, pepper-Jack cheese and "creamy-yet-zesty" Santa Fe sauce Carl's Jr.

Chipotle Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger: Beef patty, chipotle-pepper sauce, blue cheese crumbles, apple-wood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle and blue cheese dressing Chili's Bar & Grill

1/2 lb. Flamethrower GrillBurger: Two quarter-pound beef patties, cayenne-pepper-flavored mayo, pepper-Jack cheese and jalapeÁ±o bacon Dairy Queen

Devil's Spit Burger: Beef patty, [house brand] Devil's Spit barbecue sauce, pepper-Jack cheese, jalapeÁ±o bacon and [house-brand] Hell-Fire pickle chips Famous Dave's Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que

S.O.B. Burger: Beef patty basted with chipotle purée, Monterey Jack cheese,guacamole and grilled onions Hard Rock Cafe

Kilauea Burger: JalapeÁ±o-and-pepper-crusted beef patty, pepper-Jack cheese, chipotle aÁ¯oli and onion strings Islands

Santa Fe Burger: Beef patty, roasted green chiles, pepper-Jack cheese and spicy chipotle sauce Ruby's Diner

Green Chile Burger: third-pound beef patty, chipotle mayo, 2 bacon strips, green chile strips, pepper-Jack cheese, red onions, tomatoes and green leaf lettuce on a potato bun Sizzler

Saucy

Papa Burger: Two beef patties, lettuce, tomato and onion plus zesty signature A&W Papa Sauce (called Teen Sauce at Canadian locations) A&W

Texas Tumbleweed Burger: Third-pound Angus beef patty, crispy onion and jalapeÁ±o strips, Southwestern chipotle sauce, pepper-Jack cheese, tomato, lettuce and chipotle aÁ¯oli Back Yard Burgers

Bacon Cheddar BBQ Burger: Beef patty, hickory-smoked bacon, Cheddar cheese and chipotle-honey barbecue sauce Bakers Square

Patty Melt: Beef patty topped with Swiss cheese, grilled onions and zesty Swiss cheese-horseradish sauce on toasted panini bread Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse

Tysons Burger: Beef patty, pepper-Jack cheese, sweet onions, bacon and bourbon-barbecue sauce Clyde's (Tysons Corner, Va., unit)

Ciabatta Burger: 8 oz. Angus beef patty, smoked Gouda cheese, caramelized onions and horseradish and Dijon sauces on an onion roll Charlie Brown's Steakhouse

Bacon Cheddar Burger: Beef patty, apple-wood-smoked bacon, melted Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and special house burger sauce Coco's Restaurant Bakery

MÁ¤rzen Barbecue Burger: Beef patty, smoked bacon, Cheddar cheese and signature MÁ¤rzen Barbecue Sauce Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant

Hickory Burger: Beef patty, hickory sauce, lettuce, tomato, smoked Cheddar, bacon, sweet sautéed onions and mayo Outback Steakhouse

Portabella Burger: Beef patty, sliced Portobello mushroom, red bell peppers, roasted-red-pepper sauce and mozzarella Village Inn

Béarnaise Burger: Beef patty, béarnaise sauce and fried onions Yard House

Just…Different

Blue Louie: Beef patty, blue cheese, bacon, spinach and Buffalo sauce Bar Louie

Pressed Burger: Beef patty, salsa ketchup, processed-cheese spread, pickles and mayo on house or wheat bun, pressed until golden brown Cheeseburger in Paradise

Smitty's Melt: Beef patty, cheese, bacon, fried egg and garlic aÁ¯oli on toasted English muffin Clyde's (Chevy Chase, Md., unit)

Slamburger (late night only): Beef patty, cheesy hash-brown casserole, fried egg and cheese sauce on a sesame-seed bun Denny's

Garlic Spinach Burger: Beef patty, creamy garlic-spinach, Cheddar and Jack cheeses and grilled salsa Hard Rock Cafe

Bacon & Egg Cheeseburger: Beef patty, Cheddar cheese, one egg cooked over-medium, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayo on Romano-Parmesan bun IHOP

Loco Moco: Two beef patties over rice with brown gravy; topped with two eggs L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

Mighty Minis

Burger Bites (shown below): Four mini beef patties, melted American cheese and Bennigan's signature sauce; Served with more signature sauce for dipping Bennigan's Grill & Tavern

Sliders: Four mini beef patties, melted American cheese, pickles, ketchup and mustard Charlie Brown's Steakhouse

Angus-Kobe Mini Burgers: Angus-Kobe beef patty, kosher pickles and tomatoes on a toasted bun (four or six to an order) Damon's Grill

American Kobe Sliders: Three mini Kobe beef patties, Ruby Sauce and caramelized onions Ruby's Diner

Ruby Minis: Four mini beef patties, American cheese, onion straws, mayo, mustard, ketchup and pickle on toasted buns Ruby Tuesday

Animal Style

Moosebreath Burger: Half-pound beef patty, garlic-sautéed mushrooms, Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo, mustard and ketchup Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse

Giant Grizzly Burger: Two third-pound beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, Grizzly sauce and pickle on signature grilled honey-butter double-decker bun Shoney's

Topping Crazy

Mile High Burger: Two quarter-pound beef patties, lettuce, Cheddar cheese, tomatoes, pickles and Thousand Island dressing Carrows

Tons of Fun Burger: Two beef patties, double cheese, lettuce, yomato, red onion, pickles and Secret Sauce on a triple-sesame-seed bun The Cheesecake Factory

Big Country Burger: Two beef patties, fried onions, peppered bacon, house Wisconsin four-cheese blend, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, pickles and signature sauce on a grilled Parmesan-garlic roll Country Kitchen

Full House Burger (late night only, pictured below): Beef patty topped with seasoned ground beef, Cheddar cheese, red onion, cheese sauce, onion rings, yellow mustard and ketchup Denny's

Tomato Mozzarella Burger: Beef patty, tomato-basil spread, hand-sliced mozzarella, fresh basil and oven-roasted tomatoes Max & Erma's

Legend Supreme: Quarter-pound beef patty, Swiss and American cheeses, ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion, lettuce, tomato and special sauce Runza

Western Bacon Cheeseburger: Third-pound beef patty, American cheese, bacon, BBQ-ranch sauce, lettuce, tomato, breaded onion rings and barbecue sauce on signature grilled honey-butter bun Shoney's

Saloon Cheese Burger: Half-pound beef patty flame-grilled with Texas steak seasoning, choice of cheese (Swiss, Cheddar, Monterey Jack, American or provolone), mayo/steak sauce blend, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles (bacon and chili are extra) Texas Steakhouse & Saloon

Border Burger: Half-pound beef patty, choice of cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato, bacon, guacamole and barbecue sauce Tumbleweed Southwest Grill

1/2-Pound Steakhouse Double Melt: Two quarter-pound beef patties, caramelized onions, mushrooms, four bacon strips, creamy Swiss cheese and Peppercorn Sauce on a Kaiser roll Wendy's

Moo & Oink

Ultimate BBQ Burger: Topped with Georgia chopped pork, two strips of jalapeÁ±o bacon, Cheddar cheese, and signature bourbon-and-cola sauce Famous Dave's Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que

King Kong Burger: A 5 1/3-ounce beef patty with deli-sliced ham, lettuce and tomato; served on a corn-dusted roll Kings Family Restaurant

Kitchen Sink Burger: Bison or beef patty with grilled ham, mushrooms, onions, fried egg, bacon and choice of cheese Ted's Montana Grill

The Baconator (pictured at the start of the article): Two quarter-pound beef patties with six strips of hickory-smoked bacon, American cheese, ketchup and mayo Wendy's

American Journey

Santa Barbaran Burger: Beef patty, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and Thousand Island dressing Carrows

San Francisco Sourdough Burger: Beef patty, Cheddar cheese, sautéed onions, mustard sauce and pickles on grilled sourdough bread Coco's Restaurant Bakery

Bayou Burger: Cajun-seasoned beef patty, melted Swiss cheese, fried onions, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and pickles on grilled Parmesan-garlic roll, with a side of cayenne-pepper-sauce mayo Country Kitchen

Wisconsin Swiss Melt: Two beef patties, grilled onions and Swiss on grilled rye Culver's Frozen Custard & ButterBurgers

Route 66 Burger: beef patty, grilled mushrooms and onions, Swiss cheese and mayo Johnny Rockets

Chicago Firehouse Burger: Beef patty, Italian cherry peppers, American cheese, red onion, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato and mayo on grilled bun Friendly's

California Burger: Third-pound Angus beef patty, pepper-Jack cheese, bacon, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickle chips JB's Restaurant

Alamo Burger: Beef patty basted with BBQ sauce, Cheddar cheese and crispy onion strings Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon

Texas Burger: Half-pound beef patty, hickory-smoked bacon, Authentic Texas Chili, Cheddar cheese and sour cream LongHorn Steakhouse

The "Works" Frisco Burger: Beef patty, melted American cheese, apple-wood-smoked bacon, onion rings, lettuce, tomato, pickles and dressing on grilled Parmesan sourdough Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery

French Quarter: Beef patty, Avocado, bacon, double Swiss cheese and 1000 island on grilled garlic sourdough Mimi's Cafe

Aloha Burger: Beef patty with teriyaki glaze and grilled pineapple ring Ruby's Diner

New Mexico Burger: Bison or beef patty with Monterey Jack cheese, Anaheim green chiles and guacamole Ted's Montana Grill

Beyond Buns

Brawny Lad: Quarter-pound beef patty, butter and onion on toasted rye bun Big Boy

American Grill Burger: Beef patty, grilled onions, green bell peppers, mushrooms, melted American cheese and "a hint of yellow mustard" on grilled Texas toast Eat'n Park

The Factory Burger: Beef patty, Cheddar cheese, tomato and grilled onions on sourdough, French or Wheat Loaf The Cheesecake Factory

Patty Melt Thickburger: Char-broiled Angus patty, grilled onions and American cheese on grilled rye bread Hardee's

Double Patty Melt: Beef patty, mayonnaise, grilled onions and American cheese on Texas toast Sonic

The Cheesiest

Ultimate Cheeseburger: Beef patty; mozzarella, Cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan cheeses Bakers Square

Mushroom Fontina Burger: Half-pound Angus burger, sliced mushrooms and warm melted fontina cheese on a toasted kaiser roll Boston's The Gourmet Pizza

All-American Double Cheddar Melt: Two beef patties, grilled onions, mayo, Cheddar-cheese sauce and American cheese on toasted sourdough bread Checkers Drive-In

Four Cheese Bacon Burger: Beef patty; Monterey Jack, provolone, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses; bacon strips and roasted-garlic mayo on toasted ciabatta Green Mill Restaurant and Bar

Mo-Cheese-Mo Burger: Beef patty; Swiss, provolone, Parmesan and Blue cheeses; lettuce; tomato; red onion and garlic mayonnaise on ciabatta Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

Cheesy Burger: Beef patty; Cheddar, Swiss and Jack cheeses Tony Roma's

Our Own Special Something

Bacon Cheddar Burger: Beef patty, apple-wood-smoked bacon, melted Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onions, pickles and our special burger sauce Coco's Restaurant Bakery

Superburger: Two beef patties, melted cheese, pickle slices, shredded lettuce, and our Sauce Supreme on double-decker sesame seed bun Eat'n Park

Black & Bleu Burger: Half-pound beef patty dusted with our 7-pepper seasoning; topped with melted blue cheese LongHorn Steakhouse

Cruzan Burger: Beef patty, our Cruzan Coconut BBQ glaze, Cheddar-Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and crisp onion strings R. J. Gator's Florida Sea Grill & Bar

Chili-Cheddar Burger: Half-pound Angus beef patty topped with our award winning chili and melted Cheddar cheese Sagebrush Steakhouse

Burger A La TooJay's: Beef patty, mushrooms, bacon and melted Muenster cheese TooJay's Original Gourmet Deli

Peppered

Peppercorn Bleu Cheeseburger Pita: Half-pound peppercorn-seasoned patty, blue cheese crumbles, crispy fried onions and blue-cheese dressing in warm pita bread Bennigan's Grill & Tavern

Pepper Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger: Beef patty, Cheddar cheese, two slices of peppered bacon, leaf lettuce, tomato and pickles Burgerville

Peppercorn Burger: Beef patty crusted with black peppercorns, lettuce, tomato, pickles, crispy onion straws and ranch dressing Cheddar's Casual Cafe

Ground Peppercorn Burger: Beef patty crusted with black pepper and spices, shredded lettuce, tomato, pickle, Awesome Blossom strings and blue cheese dressing Chili's Grill & Bar

Black Peppercorn Bacon Steakburger: Two Steakburger patties, two slices of black-peppercorn bacon and pepper-Jack cheese Steak 'n Shake

Burger Salads

Angus-Kobe Santa Fe Salad: Angus-Kobe mini patties on lettuce tossed in Chili-Dijon Dressing; bacon, tomatoes, chopped pickles, Monterey-Jack and Cheddar cheeses Damon's Grill

Cheeseburger Salad: Mini Angus beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, Cheddar cheese crumbles and Russian dressing Saladworks

Onions Above

Steakhouse Bacon Cheeseburger: Half-pound patty, melted Cheddar, crispy bacon and house Haystack Onion Strings Black Angus Steakhouse

Smokey BBQ Burger: 8 oz. beef patty, double thick Cheddar cheese, Hickory bacon, smoky BBQ sauce and crispy fried frizzled onions Charlie Brown's Steakhouse

Haystack Burger: Angus beef patty, crisp fried jalapeÁ±o and onion sticks, lettuce, tomato, smoky BBQ sauce and melted Cheddar cheese Coco's Bakery Restaurant

Onyum Burger: Half-pound Angus beef patty, spicy sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and signature deep-fried Onyums Fatz Cafe

Roadhouse Deluxe Burger: Beef patty, bacon, shredded cheese, [house brand] Brewski Onions, sautéed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and Roadhouse BBQ Sauce Logan's Roadhouse

O-O-O Burger: Beef patty, sweet caramelized onions, spiced Cajun onions, melted pepper-Jack cheese and house-made onion rings; served with more onion rings on the side Max & Erma's

High Steaks

The Grille's Signature Cheeseburger: Chopped-sirloin and onion patty, smoked bacon and Havarti cheese on toasted onion roll The Capital Grille

Sirloin Cheese Burger: Sirloin patty, peppercorn mayo, pickle strips, lettuce, tomato, grilled or red onions, and choice of American, Cheddar or Swiss cheese on toasted bun Jack in the Box

Triple Prime Burger: Beef patty made with prime tenderloin, prime rib-eye and prime sirloin, with garlic mayo Ruby Tuesday

TXLC Steak Burger: Half pound ground mesquite-grilled steak, lettuce, tomato and red onion Texas Land & Cattle Steak House

Yo, Philly

Philly Cheeseburger: Beef patty,green bell peppers, grilled onions, mushrooms and provolone cheese Bennigan's Grill & Tavern

Philly Cheeseburger: Beef patty, melted-cheese sauce, grilled green bell peppers and chopped onions Kings Family Restaurant

Philly Steak Angus Burger: Angus beef patty, thinly sliced steak, grilled onions, mushrooms and provolone Shari's Restaurant & Pie Bakery

The Philadelphia: Double Steakburger patties, grilled onions, green bell peppers and Cheddar-cheese sauce on deluxe bakery bun Steak 'n Shake

Smokin'

Smokehouse Burger: Half-pound beef patty, barbecued onions, bacon and Cheddar cheese Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill

BBQ Burger: Half-pound beef patty, barbecue sauce, sautéed onions and smoked-Cheddar cheese Steak and Ale

Smokehouse Burger: Beef, patty, sautéed mushrooms, barbecue sauce, onion, Jack and Cheddar cheeses, shredded lettuce and tomato Texas Roadhouse

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger: Half-pound beef patty, house Smokin' Mojo BBQ sauce, Cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato, lettuce, onion and pickle on a toasted bun Rainforest Café

Around the World

Teriyaki Burger: Beef patty, grilled pineapple, sweet-and-sour teriyaki sauce, Swiss cheese, red onion, tomato, lettuce and mayo Carl's Jr.

Taco Burger: Seasoned ground beef (not a patty), mild Cheddar cheese, fresh lettuce and tomato on a bun Baker's Drive-Thru

Tomato Pesto Provolone Burger: Beef, patty, sun-dried tomato-pesto sauce, provolone cheese, sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato and mayo on ciabatta Friendly's

Tuscan Steakburger: Peppercorn-crusted beef patty, melted mozzarella cheese, roasted red peppers and spicy kickin' mayo on warm ciabatta Ninety Nine Restaurant and Pub

The Big Chili

Chili Meltdown Grillburger: Two quarter-pound patties, diced onions, two slices of American cheese and chili. Dairy Queen

Chili Cheeseburger: Beef patty, Cheddar cheese, house-made chili, lettuce and tomato Kings Family Restaurant

Angus

Black Angus Burger: 8 ounce Angus beef patty, Cheddar cheese, red onions, lettuce, tomatoes, dill-pickle slices, spicy mustard and ketchup on a three-cheese Kaiser roll Bear Rock Cafe

Angus Third Pounder Deluxe: Angus beef patty, American cheese, red onion, tomatoes, leaf lettuce, mustard and mayo (in limited test) McDonald's

Retro

Big Shef: two patties (quarter-pound total), American cheese, shredded lettuce and special Big Shef sauce Hardee's

Burger Queen

Nine-year-old Adrianna Montgomery of Raleigh, N.C., won Red Robin Gourmet Burgers' The Next Gourmet Burger Kids Contest with her Spicy Asian Burger.

Neatly summarizing the basics of menu development, Adrianna wrote in her contest submission, "My burger deserves to win because some people might be searching for something spicy and Asian."

  • How to make one: Start with a bun bottom and then add a burger patty followed by teriyaki sauce, fried wonton strips, Napa cabbage, sesame seeds, creamy ginger-wasabi dressing and the top of the bun.

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