Burgers are quintessential American comfort food, and we’re on the lookout for the best local patty.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
There are plenty of places in Harrisburg to grab a juicy burger fixed with everything from standard toppings to the just plain out-there. One local joint actually used to have a burger with an octopus tentacle on it.
My personal old fave was The Harrisburger in Broad Street Market. The Louburger was a staple, but my choice was The Van Helsing with brie, roasted garlic, and garlic aioli. Apologies if I ever close-talked to you after eating one.
Lou is no longer slinging patties, but Harrisburg still has a lot of burger joy to offer.
There is a correct answer to the title question. We’ll get to that.
First, here’s a little blast-from-the-past featuring local bloggers’ faves.
This is the joint if you’re looking for a quick non-fast food burger. They use fresh patties, and the yum sauce is delicious.
My order is the Two Yum Worlds because I love mushrooms. The mushroom could be grilled a little more so it doesn’t slide right off the bun with the first bite, but I don’t mind getting a little messy.
A classic single or double grilled fresh and taken on-the-go is infinitely better the king or golden arches.
It’s burger convenience but not the best.
Any conversation about burgers in Harrisburg has to include The Jackson House. It’s like a Harrisburg-living rite of passage. If you haven’t been, it’s an experience everyone should partake in at least once.
It’s like going to New Orleans and getting beignets from Cafe Du Monde. Just do it so you say you did. Or you’ll deal with the crazies who say, “OMG! You’ve never been there!?”
One look at the place and you know you’re in for a good burger.
You have to get there between 11:34 a.m. and 1:13 p.m., but the meat is always fresh so that’s a plus. You can pick from many burger variants, but the namesake is the one you want on your first go.
The Jackson Burger is a classic burger smothered in cheese topped with your usual LTO fixin’ and crispy bacon. It’s hard to mess it up, but the ambiance mixed with the grease of decades of grilling takes the simplicity to another level.
It’s a Harrisburg icon but not the best.
Ordering a Bunny Burger always feels a little strange. You know it’s not made of bunnies, but it still leaves a little pause.
A Red Rabbit trip is as much about the drive-up experience and nostalgic feels as the taste of the actual burger. It’s a classic burger topped with the usual, but their Original Sauce makes the bite memorable. The cragily crust of the thin patty adds another dimension of craveable flavor.
Don’t forget fries with Bunny Dust and a milkshake to dip said fries in. Go ahead, you know you want to.
It’s crazy nostalgic but not the best.
Admittedly, I do not have the best knowledge on this side of the patty. However, I’ve had The Vegetable Hunter’s Black Bean Burger many times and always enjoyed it.
It’s always really juicy and the mix of fresh greens with nacho sauce on top blends a healthy alternative while still making it feel like an indulgence.
Ward of Health, the new vegan stand at Broad Street Market, has a Triple Black Bean Burger that looks like a must-try. If you’re looking for Impossible Burgers, Arooga’s is another I’ve enjoyed the few times I’ve had it.
These could be healthier but not the best.
The best burger
Yes, the counter-culture craft beer bar that refuses to show sports and blasts death metal music has THE BEST burger in Harrisburg.
This is where I go when I need my burger craving met.
Regardless of toppings, the basis for any great burger is the patty, and JB’s has the best. It’s well-seasoned, huge, and 100 percent beef. The patty is the perfect canvas for an array of toppings.
Enter the Ifrit Mango Habanero Burger
I still remember the first time I had this burger, which is topped with a mango habanero chutney with actual chunks of mango. Then they add on bacon, pepper jack cheese, and a sriracha sauce for a perfectly sweet, savory, and spicy combo.
It works so damn well paired with a PBR and inevitable eye rolls at the music volume.
If you’re looking for a classic juicy burger, they have that too. I would also recommend the Boba Fetta topped with feta cheese, tzatziki sauce, and spinach.