Round One: Voting is over and the results are in. This rounds winners are: Hamilton Tavern, The Brewer's Art, Alewife, Kooper's Tavern, Alonso's, Mother's Federal Hill Grille, The Abbey Burger Bistro, and The Dizz.
Round One Results
Hamilton Tavern5517 Harford Road,  426-1930, hamiltontavern.com Hamilton Tavern's "Crosstown Burger" is made from Roseda Farms beef, comes standard with lettuce, onion, and horseradish cheddar cheese, and features optional additions of bacon and/or a fried egg, and while we're not against an all-out burger experience, this one is so tasty and substantial that you may want to opt out on the cheese and extras to focus on the burger.
City Café1001 Cathedral St.,  539-4252, citycafebaltimore.com Billed on the menu as built from "All Natural Creek Stone Farms Beef," this burger is a sleeper of sorts, because we always forget how damn good it is. Huge umami factor to the meat makes cheese or bacon more superfluous than usual on a good burger, but fried onions or mushrooms are the perfect add-on.
McCabe's3845 Falls Road,  467-1000, mccabeshampden.com The densely packed patty here owes its exceptionally succulent flavor to dry-aged beef from Springfield Farm's well-tended cows. Free of all that artificial hormones/additives junk, you can relish this burger and walk away feeling kinda healthy, even if you get the bacon and the fried egg extras.
The Brewer's Art1106 N. Charles St.,  547-6925, thebrewersart.com Whether you dig the bright upstairs bar or the subterranean homesick blues of the basement, Brewer's' 8-ounce burger makes a perfect complement to their beer. The Vermont cheddar and the juicy beef blend with the rosemary-garlic fries to create the flavors that scream summer.
Alewife21 N. Eutaw St.,  545-5122, alewifebaltimore.com We're sure Alewife has plenty of other good dishes, but we've hardly ever noticed because we always get the smoke burger. This monster—which comes with a knife in its heart and is made with 11 ounces of locally sourced beef, two kinds of cheese, and bacon on a brioche bun, and duck-fat fries on the side—is big enough to split. But why would you want to?
One World Café100 W. University Parkway,  235-5777, oneworldcafe.us We know what you're thinking: Hey, look CP is throwing a bone (so to speak) to vegetarians by including One World in the burger list. Well, yeah, so what of it? One World makes its veggie burgers in-house, which, if you've had other "house-made" veggie burgers, you know is easier said than done. Here, they are consistently tasty and nicely textured. The current "summer" version is made from sweet potatoes, leeks, onion, celery, spinach, and carrots. It's like all the sides and toppings are already included! No, but really, it's damn good.
Ale Mary's1939 Fleet St.,  276-2044, alemarys.com If you want a straight-up homestyle burger but cannot be bothered to make one yourself, check out Ale Mary's in Fells. First of all, the thing just looks correct—the patty is real thick but still sloppy with juice, and the bun is all falling apart when you grip it. The burgers are nice and tender, plus there's a decent selection of cheeses and toppings to zhuzh it up. Plus plus, it's only $6.95 on Mondays and that includes a Boh!
Kooper's Tavern1702 Thames St.,  563-5423, kooperstavern.com, @BRGRwagon In Baltimore, the name Kooper's is practically synonymous with burgers. The place epitomizes gourmet gluttony: They deck out their hefty patties—made with Black Angus beef, Wagyu beef, lamb, bison, elk, and more—with roasted garlic cream cheese, Baja slaw, truffle arugula, crab dip, and other drool-worthy toppers.
Alonso's415 W. Cold Spring Lane,  235-3433, locohombre.com Long before burgers became trendy, this spot was serving up some of the best in town. The menu features 21 custom-made burgers, and for the brave at heart, there's the Big Tex Burger Challenge, featuring double-stacked 1-pound burgers topped with barbecue sauce, bacon, chili, onion straws, jalapeños, and cheddar cheese. It'll cost you $25, but you get a sweet T-shirt if you finish in 30 minutes or less.
Waterfront Hotel1710 Thames St.,  537-5055, waterfronthotel.us The Waterfront Hotel offers a variety of burgers: There's the Fells burger with jack cheese and cilantro aioli, and the NOLA burger with bourbon-brown sugar mushrooms, but their signature WTF burger is the king. The barbecue dry rub and mango pork belly make this burger burst with such unique flavor that you couldn't ask for more. Well, actually, you could, because there is a build-your-own burger with a huge list of toppings.
Johnny's4800 Roland Ave.,  773-0777, johnnysdownstairs.com The burger at Johnny's is a Proustian 1960s portion—which is to say, it's not as big as your head—of farm-raised beef, drippingly juicy like the very best pre-chain stuff of childhood. The regular burger is simple enough, 6 ounces served on the nostalgically tagged "Wonder bun." The more decadent "mega burger" weighs in at close to 8 ounces and is stuffed with chorizo.
Mother's Federal Hill Grille1113 S. Charles St.,  244-8686, mothersgrille.com Mother's gets a lot of flak because of its binge-drinking clientele, but the burger options here, concocted by a chef who formulates his own rub for the patties, more than make up for the company. There's a pit beef burger, a hot dog burger, a mushroom gravy burger, and 17 more, including the "Heart Attack"—a beer-battered patty infused with cheddar cheese and deep-fried—which has been featured on the Food Network and NPR.
The Abbey Burger Bistro1041 Marshall St.,  453-9698, abbeyburgerbistro.com With everything from a fried green tomato burger to a lamb burger, and a build-your-own checklist that includes wild boar, kangaroo, elk, bison, and a slew of toppings, this spot is for serious burger innovators everywhere. And it also happens to be a favorite of Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.
Dempsey's Brew Pub333 W. Camden St.,  843-7901, dempseysbaltimore.com Feel-good guy and 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey has concocted a feel-good hyper-local burger with meat from Fells Point Meats, accompanied by Old Bay kettle chips. It's huge and juicy and, during home games, only available to ticket-holders.
Ropewalk Tavern1209 S. Charles St.,  727-1298, ropewalktavern.com Even a hardcore lefty might find cause to endure the Republican rheotric in this Fed Hill standby in order to sample the half-pound burgers. Avoid the overrated (and therefore appropriately named) Gipper—a glorified bacon cheeseburger—and go for the Sam Houston, seasoned with house-made rub, topped with cheddar-jack cheese, pico de gallo, and sliced avocado, and served with cilantro sour cream.
The Dizz300 W. 30th St.,  869-5864, thedizzbaltimore.com If the Dizz is "Baltimore in a Bar," then their burgers are the Dizz in a burger, with everything left in and nothing left out. Sometimes between beers two and four, we head straight for the bacon cheeseburger, but keep your eye on the menu for any of the daily special-topping burgers, always worth a try.