The hamburger is the most popular snack food in America, and like most things American it came from somewhere else.
What started as meat being ground into mush under some Mongolian warrior’s saddle a half a world away eventually made its way to the city of Hamberg, Germany, where the sandwich takes its name.
However, it wasn’t yet THE hamburger. It took an enterprising food vendor many years later in America trying to create a portable food item to sell to factory workers to complete this legendary snack food’s ascent into the pantheon of quintessential American classics. That now-anonymous genius slapped a Hamburg-style patty between two buns, served it to a bunch of blue-collar workers and a legend was born.
I’d argue the Wenatchee Valley has some of the best takes on this famous sandwich and while this list is by no means definitive, it is comprehensive. It's a product of my opinion, but I promise you I’ve done the research (with my mouth).
This is a list of the all-star burgers in the Wenatchee Valley.
Note that I kept it focused mostly on traditional drive-ins and drive-throughs and don’t include sit-down taverns and pubs that also excel at making tasty burgers. Those places deserve their own list in their own time. So here are the five best burgers in the Wenatchee Valley:
- The Double Bacon with Cheese, Larry’s Famous Chicken in East Wenatchee
It seems weird that one of best burgers in the valley would come from a chicken joint, but it is what it is. The double bacon with cheese is quite nearly the perfect burger. It’s small enough in circumference to pick up and eat while keeping its form while you’re eating it. That’s important. A huge messy burger with good flavors isn’t that much better than a small bland bready burger. Portions are important, even with junk food.
Also important are good fries, and Larry’s has them, as well as good sauces and great service. Plus it has that old-timey drive-in experience, which kind of makes you feel like you’re in a scene from “American Graffiti.”
The fried chicken is also obviously amazing. This place is a double threat.
2. The Wildcat/Panther Burger, Bernie’s Burgers-n-Suds in Wenatchee
This is a burger so nice they named it twice. Originally called Buddy LaFleur’s, Bernie’s is a hometown gem with excellent food across the board. Not only do they serve assorted domestic and local beers, but they also have great salads, soups and other menu items.
My go-to is the Wildcat/Panther burger, which I love in part because it represents the dual nature of our communities. The mascot for Wenatchee High School is the Panther. The mascot for Eastmont High School is the Wildcat. Bernie’s does not want to put anyone off on either side of the river, so their signature burger is the Wildcat/Panther burger.
Whatever you prefer to call it, I order it pretty much every time I go to Bernie’s. Their thin-cut shoestring fries are great and they also have the best fry sauce in the valley in my opinion.
3. The Animal Burger, EZ’s Burgers Deluxe
This double meat, double cheese, and double bacon masterpiece is the pièce de résistance on EZ’s expansive menu, but there’s so much more to love at this quaint hometown drive-in. They have an entire side menu just devoted to fried seafood, and if you love a good fish and chip basket as much as I do you’ll come back again and again. They serve some of the best fried fish east of Ivar’s on the wharf on the waterfront in Seattle.
But the star of the show here is the animal burger, in all of it’s beefy, cheesy, bacon-y gooey glory. Like Larry’s, EZ’s keeps the circumference of their burgers the traditional size, which makes it more manageable to pick up and actually eat. That said, a mess-free meal this is not. The exquisite mixture of sauce, pickles, onion, tomato, and lettuce they pile onto this seriously extra burger creates a slightly sloppy but still lovely eating experience.
Plus the art deco design of the building and the golden oldies they pipe through the sound system when you’re picking up your order makes this place a little slice of Americana.
4. The Big Block Chevy, Monitor Hot Rod Cafe
The Hot Rod Cafe is right off Highway 2 at Monitor, just 10 minutes from Wenatchee’s Olds Station. It's literally got a car on the roof and the interior decor is a homage to the heyday of American car culture.
I didn't go for the interior design though. I went for a burger and the one I chose after a few trips sampling their menu is the Big Block Chevy – double meat and double cheese with all the fixings. I decided to skip the bacon on this one. It's the quality meat and fresh fixings that make this burger something to write home about.
5. The Bacon Burger, Dizzy D’s
For this one, I went with the classic bacon cheese and not a double. Dizzy D’s is the kind of place where you stick with tradition, and after this many burgers, my system and my waistline don’t need the extra calories.
Dizzy D’s is Washington state Governor Jay Inslee's favorite burger joint in the Wenatchee Valley, which is an interesting factoid. Even more interesting is the decor. There’s a rich history to the place that includes Pearl Harbor, and they also sell birdhouses. It encapsulates so much of what I love about quirky local spots. It’s completely unique, reflects the personality of the owners and you’ll always see the same employees behind the counter and on the grill.
The classic bacon cheeseburger doesn’t disappoint. The bacon is high-quality, thick-sliced and crisped to perfection. The tomatoes were fresh and sliced perfectly (there’s nothing worse than a tomato slice that’s mushy, or thick on one side and super thin on the other). Dizzy D’s knows how to do burgers, and their beer-battered fries are some of the best around.
But what do you think?
Do you agree or disagree? Do you have a favorite burger you think I should have included in the list? Comment on the Facebook thread for this article and share your opinion!
When it comes to burgers, there are no wrong answers and they’re meant to be enjoyed, shared, discussed and even argued about from time to time. That’s the beauty of the all-American cheeseburger – it belongs to all of us!
Plus, I’d argue that the Wenatchee Valley is one of the most beautiful places you can enjoy this American classic.