Look, Sydney’s burger craze really isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so naysayers may as well embrace it. As burger chefs across the city continue to perfect their art, us here in the harbour city have become truly spoilt for choice. Media are constantly having to revise their “best burgers in Sydney” articles, frenzied burger fiends are running around trying to fit in as much as they can, and now we even have a freakin’ (hopefully) annual two-day festival dedicated to burgers. That’s not to mention that our favourite Facebook group dedicated to burgers is now almost at 60,000 members. Yeah, the burger craze is here to stay, helped along by the fact that Sydney just got three massive openings in the span of one week, all of which will undoubtedly be go-to spots for discerning burger fans from now on. Be aware of these three places, they all pump out some excellence on the daily.
1. Guilty (Darlinghurst)
The area around Oxford Street has really become the place to be for lovers of both good burgers and fried chicken (the other current food trend driving Sydney’s food lovers insane). You’ve got Butter and Juicy Lucy a short walk towards Central, you’ve got Burgers Anonymous and BL Burgers both sitting in the busiest area of the strip, and now you’ve got Guilty. Guilty is just off Oxford Street, straight down Palmer Street and hidden in that little Republic 2 complex courtyard which is also home to the great Lucio Pizzeria. It’s the brainchild of Jimmy Hurlston, a man best know as Jimmy’s Burgers who is most famous for traversing the world and pretty much eating every good burger known to man; he has even published a burger guide for Victoria and is the owner of Melbourne’s five-storey burger staple Easey’s. Accomplished is an understatement.
Guilty is simple in design. It occupies the space that was formerly Civilian Bar & Kitchen with big concrete and wooden tables as well as a long bar with stools so you can pull up and have a chat to the bar folk as you go through the many Melbourne beers on tap (they’ve got Melbourne Bitter!) and commendable stock of spirits. It’s as much a place to hang out and drink as anything, but it’s hard to overlook the modest menu Hurlston has put together.
While the food offerings will no doubt continue to take shape as Guilty edges out of its opening week, so far it’s a mix of burgers, hotdogs, indulgent desserts, and sides. These aren’t the ridiculously large and stacked burgers you’d find elsewhere, they fit in two hands perfectly and hit the spot on every bite; Hurlston knows his way around a burger.
They’ve got some Tots to Life on the menu to share up, bringing back America’s favourite deep-fried potato snack and smothering it with cheese sauce, bacon, and caramelised onions. There’s also Mac n Cheese, Chili Chips, and some Dim Sims, the same bite-sized ones you’d find at Easey’s. You’ll find the option to add additional bits and bobs to your sides like brisket, bacon bits, cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, and more.
One of the most popular burgers at Easey’s has been the Rowdy Double Cheeseburger, and the Guilty crew have created its own Sydney version with the Rowdy Double Jeopardy (headline image) with double beef, double cheese, bacon, jalapenos, and a special house-made sauce which is layered onto the stack with balance in mind. The meat slides off and melts on the tongue with each bite; an absolute must if you really want to experience how Hurlston has channeled all that burger experience. If you can pull yourself away from a burger on one visit, then the Mack Dawg, a double-smoked pork dog coated in a 5 cheese Mac n Cheese, sounds like a winner.
Extras for any burger or hot dog include chicken fried steak, brisket, pop tarts, gluten free buns, dim sums, cheese, jalapenos, and more. There’s enough here for you to create that ridiculously large instagram-worthy stack should you want. Finish it all up with one of their creamy Banana Splits or a Pop Tart Ice Cream Sandwich.
Address: 248 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-12am; Sun 11am-10pm
2. Barrio Burger and Fries (Potts Point)
Image from Barrio Burger’s Facebook
Tears flowed when it was announced that late-night Mexican staple Barrio Chino was to close, no doubt due to Mike Baird’s hurtful lock out laws. Just recently, they called last drinks and eats for the popular restaurant and then shut the doors, making way for a temporary (but hopefully permanent) pop-up dubbed Barrio Burger and Fries. Co-owner Peter Lew (who also owns the expanding Fei Jei nearby) already built up hype for the new pop-up via his hugely popular collaboration with Pub Life Kitchen’s Jovan Curic, which took place earlier this year at Deus Ex Machina in Camperdown. The two burger masterminds came together and gifted Sydney some of the best burgers the city has ever seen, the most popular of which have spilled onto the menu at Barrio Burger.
The Barrio Burger (which many say is the best in Sydney) is on the menu, as is a more standard Cheeseburger (with the option of a Double Cheeseburger). You’ll also find a chunky creation called Sweet Bacon Blues, a fried chicken option with Fatboy Chicken, and a vegetarian option with the Mushroom + Cheese.
Three types of fries are one the menu, with the most essential being the medley that is Barrio Fries with potato gems, sweet potato, and curly fries with a sweet, tangy house-made sauce and cheese. If you’re going for a feast, pair this up with the Barrio Corn Cob and finish with a basket of soft Churros Bites with dulche de leche.
The space is massive as far as burger joints go, raw and industrial with its look, with large, wide tables breaking up the space in between booths and an open-kitchen. There’s a bright outdoor area for the puffers, but food is obviously not allowed in the area. Head along and push up the demand so this place sticks around.
Address: 28-30 Bayswater Rd, Potts Point
Opening Hours: Tue-Wed 12pm-9pm; Thur 12pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 12pm-11pm; Sun 12pm-9pm
3. PLK Rozelle (Rozelle)
You know what Pub Life Kitchen is and you know what Jovan Curic is capable of. The ruling king of Sydney burgers has finally decided to expand Pub Life Kitchen’s popularity with it’s second ever venue, taking over the suburb’s Ruby L’otel near the park. They won’t just be doing burgers though, this is more a pub that just happens to do some of the best burgers in town, right alongside Curic’s take on pub classics like Braised Beef Cheeks with truffled potato puree and Serrano ham, and Chargrilled Pasture Fed Sirlion Steak with smashed potatoes and horseradish butter.
Burgers include PLK’s often-imitated-never-duplicated classic The O.G (salt aged patty, American cheese, McClures pickles, lettuce, tomato, and PLK Aioli) and The Bird (buttermilk fried chicken, McClures pickles, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and green sriracha mayo), as well as The Don Ruby (salt aged patty, American cheese, McClures pickles, black garlic, and truffle aioli), which will be exclusive to the Rozelle venue, and was first seen at the recent Burgerpalooza, proving so popular that Jovan was forced to include it on the menu.
In true pub fashion, PLK Rozelle will feature rotating specials for every night of the week, which include Half Price Mains on Mondays (an opening special), Cheap Steak Tuesdays, Kids Eat Free on Wednesdays, Chicken Dinners (whole charcoal chickens and unlimited $4 sides) on Thursdays, “Burger Experiment” on Fridays, Pub Brunch on Saturdays, and ParkMeats (whole animals roasted on spits) on Sundays, where diners are encouraged to pull up in the nearby park and make a picnic of it (BYO blankets).
Address: The Ruby L’otel: 68 Victoria Road, Rozelle
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – 9pm