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Burger patty debate: thick vs. thin?

Photo credit: Jessica Farreny/Community News Service LLC

Photo credit: Jessica Farreny/Community News Service LLC

If you could only eat one kind of burger for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Now pause. Think that over for a moment…picture it in your head. I’ll wait.

Got it yet? Ok, let’s move on.

Yesterday, Eatocracy posted an article referencing Alton Brown’s recent declaration on the Food Network special America’s Best that the late-night burger at Holeman & Finch Public House is the best burger in America.

And a tsunami of passionate comments ensued.

As I read through the comments, some of which agreed with the claim while most countered with what they considered to be the best burger and how crazy he/she thought Alton was, I noticed something. Most of the suggestions had a common theme: they weren’t just suggesting a burger from a different restaurant, they were suggesting a different style of burger.

Ranking food– specifically, claiming that one dish is the best of its kind in the country–can be tricky. So much of it comes down to individual preference. Of course, it is much easier to compare two dishes of the same style, but ranking two varieties of burger that are of equal quality is a different beast all together.

That’s why you will never hear me claim to have found the best burger ever.

One of the best? Sure, I can definitely say that. But to crown the One Burger to rule them all is a very big claim, and a question that I’m not sure that anyone can answer in this life.

There are many different sub-species of burgers to choose from, with limitless varieties of toppings and presentations. But, as far as I can tell, the countless combinations and arrangements all really boil down to two core styles, and it’s all about the patty.*

Exhibit A: “Stacked” style – Two thin pressed patties, stacked on top of each other, a la Holeman & Finch or Bocado.


Exhibit B: “Pub” style – A single, thicker patty, such as Farm Burger or The Vortex. Multiple thick patties qualify as a “double burger”, and falls into a sub-set of Exhibit B.

Beef burger from Jackson Hole Burgers, Lawrenceville (AJC Staff)

Beef burger from Jackson Hole Burgers, Lawrenceville (AJC Staff)

* For the sake of this discussion, I’m not including sliders or non-beef burgers as unique styles. One is a shrunken version of Exhibit A or B, and the other is simply imitating a burger. Buns and a protein do not a burger make. Yeah, I said it.

Though I’m sure that some of you believe you’re the exception, the fence-sitters who swear that they like both styles of burger equally, everyone has a preference. It’s like being asked to choose your favorite child– deep down you know that you have one, even if you won’t admit it.

So, what if you don’t prefer the thin double patty style that Holeman & Finch serves? What if your idea of the perfect burger is a massive ½ lbs single slab of beef? Then you are probably in the camp that thinks that Mr. Alton Brown has flipped his lid, or at least that he is a little off base.

Since I’ve had burgers on the brain lately, and have a lot of burgers in my near future with my new slot here on the Dining Team, I’m curious as to where my readers stand on this hot-button issue.

So I want to know: What kind of burger lover are YOU? Thick or thin?

*Objectivity Disclaimer* – While I have a preference, which I’ll keep to myself for now, it isn’t so heavily weighted that I don’t love burgers of both styles. There is room on this blog for both.

- Jon Watson writes about Popular Eats for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Live To Feast

65 comments Add your comment

Doc Hollidawg

October 28th, 2010
12:22 pm

“And I have lived in ATL, I chose to leave because of the lack of culture.”

So in New York the best thing you have to do is come on an Atlanta food blog and bash the city?

How very “cultured” of you.

You may go now.


October 28th, 2010
12:51 pm

I don’t eat beef, but I do love burgers. I like the thin ones, so you can still fit it into your mouth after you put all the toppings you want on it (including another burger!). I’m a “cheese snob” only for the fact that I won’t touch American cheese, but I find cheese isn’t something I want on a veggie burger anyway. And while I’m adding my 2 cents here, if you don’t like Atlanta’s burgers then go back to NY where it’s obviously “better” yet you spend your time reading about Atlanta’s burgers!


October 28th, 2010
1:22 pm

Has anyone tried a Canyon burger? There’s one in the Acworth area. It was pretty crowded so we didn’t order, they are a 5 Guys style.


October 28th, 2010
1:46 pm

how can anybody like one kind of Burger
Thin and steamed like KRYSTAL yummy
thin and gooey like VARSITY yummy
Stacked like InandOut yummy
Thick Carolina style…mustard onions, chili and slaw woo hoo


October 28th, 2010
3:27 pm


October 28th, 2010
3:44 pm

I like em both! Each has their place and time…


October 28th, 2010
3:50 pm

@I love New York – Sorry you werent happy in Atlanta, maybe with your pissy attitude, you just fit in better in New York anyway

Elk Burgers Rock!

October 28th, 2010
3:51 pm

FIVE GUYS Burgers = Completely Inedible

Just another example of how pretty much anything Obama endorses is absolute garbage.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by A Hamburger Today and Dino J, Jenny Turknett. Jenny Turknett said: From our Chowhound Jon: Burger patty debate: thick vs. thin? [...]

Dan AKA blind blog

October 28th, 2010
8:34 pm

I love a thick patty, although places like shake shack and rub bbq make delicious thinner patty burgers.

I Love NY

October 28th, 2010
10:31 pm

God it’s so easy to piss you good ol’ boys….. Have fun drivin’ yer big cars to get yer meat n’ taters…..

Bemused Observer

October 29th, 2010
2:50 pm

@I Love NY: And so very sad that your only joy in life is “pi$$ing” people off on a blog. As Doc said earlier, life must be really great up there in the big city if you have to find your jollies trolling blogs like this.


October 29th, 2010
4:59 pm

Definitely thin! When I eat a thick one it always gets really messy. I don’t like when half of my burger slips away. But if you have a big mouth then that’s another story! staub cookware

Hopeless Foodie

October 29th, 2010
6:31 pm

For me, I fine with either style-as long as the burger is tasty. If it’s thin, it has to be a double (i.e H&F, In n Out), and I can only handle a single thick patty.

In regards to Kar’s comment further up about cheeseburger vs. hamburger, here’s my weird little burger habit. Whenever I order a burger while I’m out or if I’m making them in my home kitchen, it HAS to be a burger with chese. However, when I fire up the grill, I refuse to put cheese on my burger. It has to be grilled medium, brushed with a little BBQ sauce a minute before taking it off the grill and placed on the bun with just a bit of spicy mustard. That’s it: no cheese, no ketchup, no lettuce, tomato, onion or any of the usual accoutrements.

John Sexton

October 31st, 2010
6:36 am

Thick and never over medium-rare. I never go back to a burger joint that cooks the meat well done. Only lawyers should be cooked well done.