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Central Standard

Food Critics: The Best Burgers In Kansas City

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Is there a smell, in all the land, like sizzling ground meat charring on the grill?

Burgers are a staple of classic Americana, as we confirmed on Central Standard.

They're a national comfort food, according to Feast Magazine's Jenny Vergara, and she says that if you're going to make cuisine in America, you're going to have to conquer the burger.

That's not to say that you have to love meat. Veggie burgers have come a long way. And for the experimental burger eater, non-beefy varieties like turkey, chicken or bison are also making their way onto menus.

Whether you're an old-school greasy burger loyalist or an upscale, organic burger connoisseur, Kansas City and the surrounding region have a lot to offer.

CharlesFerruzza's Top  5:

  1. Jim's Diner - 6901 Prospect Ave., Kansas City, Mo.: This is a carry-out destination (there's only one table in the place), but chef-owner Dave Crane can assemble a world-class cheeseburger. If regular patron Gertrude Ramsey is there playing recorded gospel music,  a cheeseburger and tots becomes a religious experience.
  2. Anton's Taproom - 1610 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.: There are two different burgers served here: a house burger and a dry-aged steak burger. They're both superb.
  3. The Hum Dinger - 2504 East 9th St., Kansas City, Mo.: The double cheeseburger is as delicious now as it was in 1961 when this old fashioned "drive-in" first opened.
  4. HiBoy Drive-In - 924 West US Highway 24, Independence, Mo.: Ridiculously thick, with firm buns and tasty pickles.
  5. Westside Local - 1663 Summit St., Kansas City, Mo.: The Summit Burger is one hell of a good burger.

Mary Bloch's Top 6: 

  1. Bluestem- 900 Westport Rd., Kansas City, Mo. and Rye - 10551 Mission Rd., Leawood, Kan.: Daily Grind burger.
  2. Q39 - 1000 West 39th St., Kansas City, Mo.: Brisket burger. 
  3. Burger Stand - 803 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kan.: The Black & Blue with blue cheese, Granny Smith apple chutney and local greens and the Fire burger topped with fresh avocado and habanero-cactus jam (I sub a black bean burger).
  4. Jacobson - 2050 Central St., Kansas City, Mo.: Topped with short-rib marmalade, bone marrow butter and crispy onion straws. 
  5. Julian - 6227 Brookside Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.: Cheeseburger.
  6. Blanc - 4120 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo.: Bison burger with peppadew pepper jam and pepperjack cheese.

JennyVergara's Top 5:

  1. Webster House - 1644 Wyandotte St., Kansas City, Mo.: House Ground Steak Burger with cheddar cheese, sweet onion, lettuce and tomato on Bloom Bakery burger bun. Available with happy hour and lunch pricing.
  2. Genessee Royale - 1531 Genessee St., Kansas City, Mo.: Saturday-only special on burgers and bloodys. Gennessee Royale Burger and a Spicy Bloody Mary. Delicious burger with cheese served on a toasted English muffin with lettuce, pickles and onions.
  3. Julian - 6227 Brookside Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.: Cheeseburger with house-made pickles and fries.
  4. Town Topic - multiple locations: Patty melt on riddled rye bread with American cheese, grilled onions and pickles.
  5. Howard's Cafe and Rooftop Garden (opening Spring 2015) - 1708 Oak Street, Kansas City, Mo.: Cheeseburger with grass-fed ground beef, house-made cheddar cheese, fresh pea shoots and secret sauce on house-made organic buns. Rooftop-grown produce.

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People don't make cameos in news stories; the human story is the story, with characters affected by news events, not defined by them. As a columnist and podcaster, I want to acknowledge what it feels like to live through this time in Kansas City, one vantage point at a time. Together, these weekly vignettes form a collage of daily life in Kansas City as it changes in some ways, and stubbornly resists change in others. You can follow me on Twitter @GinaKCUR or email me at gina@kcur.org.
A California native, Briana comes to KCUR by way of KMUW in Wichita, Kan. and KUSP in Santa Cruz, Calif.