Delicious Burgers in Pittsburgh

Earlier this year, Pittsburgh mourned the loss of Mike Harrington, one of the trio of siblings that’s helped make Tessaro’s in Bloomfield an absolute civic treasure since 1985. The neighborhood tavern with gorgeous house-ground, wood-grilled burgers harkens back to an era of the city that continues to recede into the mind’s eye. The place has been a mainstay on every best of list for decades, which is why TABLE contributor Dan Gigler has surreptitiously put it in this introduction, hoping Editor-in-Chief Keith Recker will not notice thus freeing up a slot for his list of eight must-try burgers for Pittsburghers. Sneaky, huh? 

Burgers in Pittsburgh

Bonfire Food & Drink 

2100 East Carson St, South Side 

There is exactly one burger on the menu of Chef/Owner Chris Bonfili’s South Side restaurant and that is all they need, because it is flawless: an ample hand-formed patty from Strip District Meats dressed with arugula, mushroom duxelles, Beemster goat cheese, and truffle aioli between a BreadWorks brioche. 


Zelienople, Lawrenceville, South Side, Millvale 

The prestigious James Beard Society has recognized the umami-popping mushroom and grass-fed beef blends here. Try the Maggie’s Farm: rich Gouda, fresh horseradish, caramelized onion, roasted chilies, and the local namesake rum aioli in a lightly toasted brioche bun. 


208 North Craig St, Oakland 

Their aptly named yet understated Fancy Burger is simple perfection: eight ounces of beef from Thoma Meat Market in Saxonburg topped with Gruyère, bacon, maple Dijon, white onion, lettuce, pickles, and aioli. 

Hemlock House 

1126 South Braddock Ave, Swissvale 

The funky vibe here complements a most excellent and explosive mash-up of flavors. For evidence, look no further than their Kimchi Burger: house-ground beef, lettuce, kimchi (from friend and collaborator Simon Ceough of Soju), gochujang mayo, American cheese and a fried egg on a challah bun. 

Moonlit Burgers 

Dormont, Uptown, Sewickley  

Smashburgers are now ubiquitous, but Derek Stevens and Mike McCoy brought the revolution to Pittsburgh and theirs remains the standard bearer. Their signature Classic Moonlit Double two patties, griddled onion, American cheese, pickles, and Moon sauce on a Martin’s potato roll––an homage to In-N-Out Burger––is intensely craveworthy. 

Oak Hill Post 

600 Brookline Blvd, Brookline 

One could put almost anything between the Brookline’s café’s signature buttermilk biscuits and it would be fantastic. But add a burger patty, fried egg, American cheese, pickles, and their special sauce? Yes, please, and thank you. Every day.

OTB Bicycle Café 

South Side, North Park, South Fayette 

Call it a gimmick, I do not care. OTB’s Dirt Rag Delight with house-made peanut butter, dill pickles, and American cheese is just that, a total delight.

The Foundry Table & Tap 

381 North Shore Dr, North Shore 

The humble patty melt is an underrated yet outstanding presentation of a burger. The Foundry does an excellent patty melt on the North Shore utilizing patties from Lawrenceville’s Fat Butcher, American and Swiss cheeses, and caramelized onions between Texas toast. It has sustained me before or after many a home Steelers game or Stage AE concert. 

Story by Dan Gigler  / Styling by Anna Franklin / Photography by Dave Bryce

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