The boutique burger trend is one that has erupted across the world in recent years. No longer is a burger a simple patty between two buns scenario; now the choice of buns is seemingly endless (brioche, potato or black?), the fillings gourmet and the accompaniments growing ever wackier.
As such, burger joints across the UAE are no longer limited to your typical fast food varieties. Your standard Big Mac has given way to sandwiches from smaller, one-off outlets that have amassed fans and grown cult followings. Never have you been so spoilt for choice for a simple burger joint treat meal.
And so, we've done the hard yards in searching Dubai-wide for the best offerings between two buns. It was tough work, but someone had to do it.
Here's our pick of the best burgers in Dubai:
Best for: Burgers and fried chicken
Pickl has garnered somewhat of a following, a throng of fans who will shout about it from the rooftops when it comes to ordering an indulgent weekend treat. The burgers are juicy and the fried chicken fresh, served in crispy, chunky, boneless strips. Pickl also offers vegan Beyond Burgers, so there is something on the menu for everyone.
Top tip: if you order the chicken, save any extra Comeback Sauce you get, you'll want to eat it with everything you can get your hands on in the following days. Shakes and messy fries are also on the menu. You can order from Pickl exclusively on Deliveroo.
Order: The Chicken Sando – fresh fried chicken, Comeback sauce, dill pickles, lettuce, potato bun for Dh35.
One JLT Tower, Jumeirah Lakes Towers; 04 584 6859; www.eatpickl.com
Best for: Slider burgers and Lotus biscuit shake
Salt started as a beach food truck on Kite Beach, and has grown exponentially in the years since. In Dubai you'll still find it at Kite Beach, but it's also located at The Dubai Mall, La Mer and Dubai Marina, and UAE-wide there are locations at Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi; Al Zorah Golf Club, Ajman; Marjan Island Boulevard, Ras Al Khaimah and Hamdan Bin Mohammed St, Al Ain.
The menu is pretty simple: there is the original 2 oz Wagyu beef slider with cheese and extras, the spicy Hook variety or deep fried chicken with Cheetos, all served in butter buns, and you can opt for single or double with the patty portions. They also serve plain, cheese or spicy fries, iced tea, lemonade, ice cream and shakes – the Lotus biscuit shake has a following of its own.
Order: Order the original slider – you can't go wrong with Wagyu beef, melted cheese, salt and pickle slices in a butter bun – it costs Dh32 for two sliders.
Various locations across the UAE; www.find-salt.com
Best for: flame-grilled chicken burgers
The Australian brand, started in 1986 by Portuguese immigrant Antonio Cerqueira, landed in the UAE earlier this year. It may be best known for its famous flame-grilled chicken, but the menu also features a range of popular chicken burgers. The Bondi Burger, with grilled chicken breast fillets, lettuce, mayo and Oporto’s original chilli sauce, is worth a try. Oporto does not use artificial flavours or preservatives, and with the chicken grilled instead of fried, it's a fairly healthy way to satiate those burger cravings.
Order: The Bondi Burger (Dh22 for single and Dh29 for the double patty)
Level 2, Dubai Festival City Mall; www.oportome.com
Best for: Monster burgers and Crazy Shakes
The New York burger joint first came to Dubai's Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel in 2017 and, in a clear display of its popularity, has opened up numerous branches across the UAE since, including in The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. With the aim of making burger eating an experience, the classic burger joint features a wide variety of craft burgers to try. Purists can't go wrong with the All-American or the Old-Fashioned, while there's a pear bacon jam option for those looking for eccentric flavours. Meanwhile, it also has a number of Crazy Shakes that easily require two people to finish them (after you're done clicking a picture or two, of course). Vegans also have two burger options, including one with the famous Impossible patty.
Order: The Greg Norman features Wagyu beef, blue cheese and arugula. The Texan burger is also a popular choice. Prices vary according to branch.
Mall of the Emirates; The Dubai Mall; Rixos Premium Dubai JBR; and Jumeirah Al Naseem; www.blacktapme.com
Best for: Customisation, vegetarian and vegan options
The Vienna burger joint set up shop in Mall of the Emirates towards the end of 2019, and is the place to go if you're craving your fix after a long day of shopping. On the menu you'll find a variety of options such as the Ocean Drive (with guacamole, baby spinach and sweet chilli) or the Farmhouse (a fried egg, fried onions and grilled mushrooms). It deserves a special shout out for having a large selection of plant-based burgers and vegan options. There's also a customisation section, so you can choose your patty, toppings, sauces and extras to create the burger of your dreams. The venue also has an impressive range of drink options, in particular home-made ice teas.
Order: The Farmhouse (Dh30 for a slider and Dh56 for a burger)
Level 1, Mall of the Emirates; 04 880 8989; www.leburger.ae
Best for: unique flavours and comfort food
The name just about says it all; this unpretentious delivery-only brand is not afraid to let things get a little messy. Launched in 2020, Ugly Burger has already created quite a stir on the local food scene with plenty of interesting options. There’s a Buldak Fire Chicken burger, created with a custom blend of spicy Buldak chicken sauce, a Korean-style Bulgogi burger and a Truffle Truffle burger, for those who can’t get enough of that prized mushroom flavour.
Order: The Truffle Truffle burger for a blast of flavour (Dh45)
04 447 4899; available for delivery at order.chatfood.io/ugly-burger/delivery/ugly-burger
Best for: Classic, all-American burgers
Another home-grown name, Good Burger was launched by the founders of Maiz Tacos and is available for dine-in at the restaurant, as well as for pick-up and delivery. On the menu you'll find a number of delicious chicken burgers, including the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich or the Nashville hot chicken sandwich, while the veggie Portobello mushroom burger is well worth a try. Meanwhile, there's The Original and The Bougie for beef lovers – and the option to customise your burger, too.
Order: You can't go wrong with the Original Good Cheese Burger (Dh45)
Inside Maiz Tacos, Cluster Y, JLT; 04 514 4712; available for delivery at deliveroo.ae/menu/dubai/jlt/good-burger-jumeirah-lake-towers
Bite Me Burger Co (Get Plucked)
Best for: variety lovers and absolutely not for the indecisive
The popular British burger joint arrived in Dubai earlier this year, serving up gourmet mini burgers and chicken to the crowds of DIFC. With 15 varieties of mini burgers, Bite Me Burger is for lovers of variety, whereas its sister brand (operating out of the same restaurant) Get Plucked offers all things chicken: bites, burgers and wings. Featuring striking wall art, burger-inspired design accents, an Instagram wall and a "freeze shake bar", it's a unique destination.
Order: The Lambtastic slider (Dh42 for two sliders)
151 Gate Avenue North Entrance, Podium Level; 04 299 2110; www.instagram.com/bitemeburgerme
Nola Eatery & Social House
Best for: Ambience mixed with hearty grub
It's not a burger joint per se, but this JLT restaurant has, in our humble opinion, nailed the ultimate cheese burger. Why? Because it's made entirely out of cheese. The vegetarian-friendly Cheese Vurger is a giant slab of the stuff served in lieu of a meat patty, accompanied by lettuce, pepper jam, onions, cherry tomatoes and hand-cut fries. You might need a big sleep after consuming one, but it's like a big hug in a bun. The restaurant, which specialises in Southern American fare (hence the name, a moniker for New Orleans), is also worth visiting for its jambalayas, po'boys and shrimp beignets, on the days you're not in the mood for a burger.
Order: The Cheese Vurger (Dh73)
Level B1, Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT; 04 399 8155
Best for: drive-by burgers
This tiny haunt in Al Manara has virtually no seating, but draws in queues of 4x4s on weekends: people roll by to pick up a burger to eat behind the wheel (while stationary, of course). The burgers are small but perfectly formed, with soft potato buns and smashed beef patties, which are crispy on the outside but soft in the middle. Ask if they have any "secret burgers" when ordering, they often have off-menu options for those in the know.
Order: Get the High Burger (Dh36.75) if you're a minimalist, but maximalists should try the Millionaire High (Dh47.25), a beef burger served with provolone, portobello tempura, truffle mayo and pickled onion.
11b Street, Al Manara, Jumeirah; 04 268 1586
Best for: Nashville-style chicken
Unlike saucy buffalo chicken, Nashville hot chicken is flavoursome but crispy and dry. It's rubbed in spices before frying, and is then coated in spice again and drenched in a light marinade. It has a distinct orange hue and is flavoursome but not sloppy. The burgers at Peppers are a fitting homage to the chicken tradition, and come in beautifully soft brioche buns. You can choose between five different spice levels: from merely peppery to absurdly hot. Fast fact: the idea for Peppers came in 2018, when founder Abdelrahman Alteneiji went to the States and became obsessed with Nashville Hot Chicken. The fan has now become the regional master.
Order: The Sando (Dh45) – they only do one burger, and they do it well
Zabeel Extension, The Dubai Mall
Smash and Sear
Best for: Quality meat
Part of Maxzi The Good Food Shop in Al Quoz, these burgers are worthy of this list because of the quality of the meat (Wagyu), the deliciously briney pickles and the perfect meat-to-bun ratio (it's a nice, thin patty, but one that does not get lost in the bun). They pride themselves in using top quality cuts and never freezing their meat.
Order: The simple cheeseburger – there are fancier options, but at Dh28, the cheeseburger is great value for Wagyu
Al Shafar Investment Building, Al Quoz; 04 395 3988
Brd by Slab
Best for: Korean-style chicken
This is a concept from Peruvian chef Omar Rodriguez, who lives in Dubai, and as you can guess from the name, the protein of choice here is chicken. There are plenty of flavours to choose from, offering different spice levels: honey butter is on the mild side, while the "insanity" sandwich, as the name suggests, is a very spicy burger indeed. Our favourite, however, is the Koreano sandwich, because who does not love gochujang?
Order: The Koreano (Dh45) features a gochujang and honey-soy glaze with daikon pickles, served in a potato bun.
Dar Wasl Mall, Al Safa, Jumeirah 3; available for delivery at order.chatfood.io/brd/outlets/brd-outlet