Updated: Nov 10, 2019
Now more than ever, people are getting passionate about their hamburgers. Craft burgers, impossible burgers… who knew this traditional favorite would spark such epic innovation – or that there really could be so many ways to make a burger? The Orlando-area is fast becoming a haven for burger joints, and Ronald McDonald is simply not ruling the roost as he once did.
While checking out our list of favorite burgers, there are a couple things to keep in mind. For starters – I’m a Texan’s Texan in the stereotypical sense. In other words, I love beef. I don’t do vegan or vegetarian burgers, so this list isn’t covering that option. It’s just not something I am an authority on. Secondly, I won’t try to claim that we’ve tried every burger in the area. Have we missed a few? I’m sure we have! Feel free to share your recommendations with us. More to come as we discover them!
Applewood-smoked bacon, six cheese mac-n-cheese cheddar, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle), crispy onion straws and donkey sauce on a brioche bun served with triple fries.
In January of 2017, Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs reopened after extensive renovations to reveal a new look, and a revamped menu – including a line of exclusive “big bite” burgers and sandwiches from celebrity chef Guy Fieri. One of the most notable of these gut-busting additions is the Bacon Mac N Cheese Burger. This “Winner of NYC Wine and Food Festival Burger Bash” is much more than a mouthful, and a tasty one at that! This is the highest-priced burger on our list at $19.99, but you are experiencing the standard Disney “premium effect” in pricing – if it’s within the Disney property lines, the price is marked up for that little honor (even at McDonald’s)… it’s just the Disney way. But when you consider that you are expected to pay more than $10 for a hot dog at Casey’s Corner nowadays, $20 for a gargantuan burger with fries almost seems okay. Planet Hollywood also provides more of a dining experience than our other recommendations because of that Disney connection, and the theming of the eatery overall. This isn’t the kind of burger you’d be ingesting on the regular… at least, for your arteries’ sake, we hope not… but it’s a worthy splurge when you’re in vacation mode or on a special occasion. You certainly won’t need any appetizers or dessert to round out this meal, but when you see the menu you will surely want them. Pace yourself, young grasshopper… and maybe plan a second visit just for apps and dessert!
Black Angus with American cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, and creamy peanut butter on a brioche bun.
We were anxious to check out Ford’s Garage for quite some time before we were lucky enough to have one open right around the corner from us at the Sunset Walk complex beside the Margaritaville Resort. With proximity like that, we were in the dining room quite promptly after the new location opened its doors. Ford’s Garage has quite the reputation for unique and impeccable craft burgers, and I was giddy to discover that one of the crazy combinations I used to love as a kid (that I thought I was being quite creative with back then) is a staple on the Ford’s menu! The Jiffy Burger not only has a little nod to the eatery’s auto-theming in its name, but that “Jiffy” also harkens to the burger’s key ingredient (think Jif). That’s right, this burger is slathered in ooey-gooey, creamy peanut butter. Ah – tastes like my childhood! I used to baffle my grandparents with my peanut butter burgers. Now, all these years later, I can make my husband scratch his head at my choices as well. This burger may not be for everyone, but if you’re adventurous enough, I absolutely insist that you give this a try. You’ll thank me – and you’ll thank Ford’s!
Brioche bun, melted Swiss, sunny-side up egg, Applewood bacon, caramelized onions, baby greens, tomato, and garlic aioli.
Another new edition to the Kissimmee area at the Sunset Walk complex, Rock & Brews is a fast-growing craft burger chain partly founded by KISS legends Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Yep, Gene Simmons really has spread his famous business acumen far and wide, and his Midas touch didn’t fail here. Although it’s their boneless wings I’m currently obsessed with, they tend to push their skills in craft burgers and brews, making it kind of mandatory to see what all the fuss is about. To go “ultimate” in this mission, check out the Gastropub. This term is usually reserved to describe an entire establishment, but at Rock & Brews, it’s the moniker given to a mammoth burger so big you could shake two drumsticks at it! Okay… that was weak, but this burger is not. Besides, a burger topped with a fried egg is just something everyone’s got to try. Be prepared for the mess, and know in advance – it’s so worth it!
Grilled whiskey onions, jalapeños, cheddar.
Craft burgers don’t always have to come at a premium price, and they also don’t always come from chain restaurants, either! Adler’s in Davenport is a fabulous hidden gem of a spot that isn’t even out of the way if you’re in the Disney zone. What once began as a simple food truck has since become a local’s favorite, no frills brick and mortar eatery tucked away in a shopping plaza on US 27. Adler’s has a sort of old school approach to their menu in the sense that they keep the offering simple. It’s a classic burger joint, so you won’t find a five-page menu that covers a dozen categories. What you will find are brilliantly-conceived craft burgers, fresh hand-cut fries, a few clever apps, and craft sodas – as well as a veggie burger that our resident vegetarian raves about. Make sure to like Adler’s on Facebook to stay clued in to their off-menu selections! They create new burgers all the time, only available for a week or so. If you miss one that really got you salivating, never fear – they tend to reappear from time to time if they’re popular enough! For better-than-backyard freshness and quality, Adler’s is the place to be!
Florida Angus beef, Swiss, candied bacon, fried onion ring, pineapple relish, honey mustard aioli, brioche bun.
Clermont’s Crooked Spoon gastropub also has its beginnings in food trucks and has now become a favorite local hangout for craft beers and innovative burgers. The menu is rather small in quantity but masterful in quality and concept. The burger selections are somewhat “millennial-ized”, with featured ingredients like chipotle aioli, blueberry compote, arugula, panko-crusted brie, and jalapeno-caper remoulade, but you don’t have to adopt the man-bun lifestyle to appreciate the food or the ambiance at Crooked Spoon. The 420 Burger was recommended by our server for our first visit, and it did not disappoint. Fresh, local ingredients in just the right quantities perfectly complement the high-quality beef centerpiece… even the brioche bun seems somehow better here. Don’t miss the beer pairings, including local offerings. Local, creative, classy, and cozy – that about sums up Crooked Spoon.
Tin Roof – Smashville ($14.00)
Custom beef patty topped with bbq pulled pork, bacon, and slaw.
This one was a big personal challenge, and I admit that I was a tiny bit disgusted with myself for conquering it… but it was worth absolutely every ounce of shame, and I would do it all over again. The Smashville at ICON Orlando’s Tin Roof is as iconic as the complex it calls home. Yes, you read those ingredients right – beef, pulled pork, and bacon. Oh. My. GAWD! What a complex and tantalizing taste combination this is, but be forewarned – there is NO way you are eating this daintily! While I wouldn’t recommend this item for a first date, you know you’ve found your perfect life partner when they cheer you on and photograph you trying to devour this beast. Your arteries will hate you, but your taste buds will love you… do this one while you’re still young enough to tell the tale. It may just be the very best burger in the Orlando area!
Shake Shack – Shackburger ($5.79)
Cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce.
Another ICON Orlando favorite – Shake Shack is the fast-food answer to craft burgers on I-Drive. This is a great option for a quick eat on a fair budget and the atmosphere can’t be beat. Indoor and outdoor seating beneath the iconic “wheel” are made only sweeter by the option to add cheese fries and a signature Shake Shack shake. You’re not going to have one of those “fork, knife, and two dozen napkins” burgers as seen above, but you also won’t be so weighted down by a gastro-challenge that you can’t enjoy a stroll around ICON Orlando or a spin on the wheel after your meal. Shake Shack is one of the best new additions to the Orlando culinary landscape in years as one of the few options to offer genuinely good quality food at a very low price. On par price-wise with the Wendy’s, Burger King, and McDonald’s set, while being leaps and bounds beyond in flavor and value.
Habit Burger – Charburger ($7.80)
A week after this article published, Habit Burger abruptly closed down all of their Orlando-area locations. We are leaving this in the list as a deserving testament to the quality of their product. There are still Habit Burger locations along Florida’s SE coast in the Palm Beaches area.
Award-winning burger topped with caramelized onions, crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, pickles, and mayo on a toasted bun.
Another newer addition to the Orlando restaurant beat, with a few locations in the area, Habit Burger Grill is also a wonderful option for quality food on a budget. For less than $10, you’ll enjoy a full (and filling) meal that is well above the level of your average burger chain. The standard Charburger is a simplistic favorite. No frills are needed to stand in the way of taste like this. It’s the kind of quality and taste you just don’t find in today’s cardboard-esque fast food burger joints, and it’ll remind you why used to love taking the family for drive-thru burgers. I’d highly recommend considering your sides here, because the option to choose sweet potato fries or tempura green beans are a fast-food game changer!
There’s a better burger for every budget here in the Orlando area. I like to consider myself an aficionado as I lived on a primarily burger-based diet for the first 20 years or so of my life. The burger game is certainly changing these days. I used to endure endless teasing for my tendency to order burgers anywhere. Now, it seems that the foodies of the world are catching up with me, and all the culinary masters are constantly raising the bar.
Again, we’re always up for discovering new and unique burgers to try. What have we missed? Share your favorites with us below in comments!