Onward Debate: The Best State College Burgers

From Kildare’s to Five Guys, downtown State College features many different places at which one can get a burger. With variations in everything from the bread to the cheese to the beef, each burger joint offers its own unique interpretation on the iconic American food. But who does it best in Happy Valley? Just like we did with wings and drunk pizza, we had some of our staff’s carnivores debate which burger is State College’s best:

Ernie’s/The Phyrst/Local Whiskey – Ted Hozza

Beaver Burgers are by far the best I’ve ever had in State College. With the option to get either a single, girlfriend (stacked), or roommate (side-by-side), Beaver Burgers are amazing any way you like.

My personal favorite, the girlfriend, because it fills in for my lack of one, features fresh beef that puts Five Guys’ to shame, along with their secret weapon: CV Cooper. For those of you who don’t know, CV Cooper is a specialty cheese that the Phyrst family of establishments uses on burgers and cheesesteaks that melts at the best known consistency to man. The best known cheese to man along with the relish mayo and the real bacon used makes the Beaver Burger the best in State College.

Take my word on this. I’ve ordered Beaver Burgers after midnight at the Phyrst without a care in the world. If you know what’s good for you, give a Beaver Burger a try. You won’t regret it.

Chili’s – Rahi Nigam

A few months ago, I would never have ranked Chili’s burgers among the best, especially when competing against the likes of Five Guys and Baby’s. But since they revamped their menu back in September, their craft burgers have been putting up a good fight.

For starters, I like burgers with flavor and Chili’s does a really good job catering to that. While many prefer traditional burgers with traditional ingredients, I like something with a little bit more distinction. Whether it’s the mango-infused smoky BBQ sauce on their Sweet & Smokey Burger or the red & green peppers on their Guacamole Burger, Chili’s tries to step out of the box by experimenting with new tastes and ingredients. Complemented with its new recipe for fries and garlic dill pickles, these burgers exemplify culinary perfection.

While it’s nice to stick with the basics, sometimes it’s good to step out a bit. Chili’s has nailed it with the new menu. Try the Sweet & Smokey Burger – it’s a game changer.

Five Guys – Doug Leeson

When I want to satiate my desire for a burger, one of the next things I want to hear is “Two burgers!” Five Guys, located just off campus on West College Ave., offers the best combination of price and taste. Its accolades over the years speak for themselves, and Five Guys is home to one of the friendliest staffs at Penn State.

Five Guys knows its consumers. Anyone who wants to see a textbook example of supply and demand should head down there. The place prepares cheeseburgers like it’s going out of style, knowing full well the customer is there for that sole reason.

The burgers themselves are heaven-sent. It’s obviously a matter of opinion, but I could never turn down a $5 burger that’s loaded up with grease, ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, and any combination of the countless other toppings offered. Seriously though, anyone who could is objectively wrong.

Kildare’s – Jon Deasy

This is hard to explain on paper, but my Irish ancestry often screams and pleads for me to go to Kildare’s. Yes, it is a very far walk from my house, but it’s an urge that’s nearly impossible for me to fight, especially when it’s $5 burger night. I’ve already argued that Kildare’s wings are the best, but the burgers are in a category of their own. The BBQ Bacon burger seems like a standard burger that you would get at either Chili’s or a T.G.I. Fridays, but Kildare’s are always fresh, never undercooked, and come with more than enough bacon to satisfy your cholesterol needs for the next two weeks.

The secret ingredient behind Kildare’s success in the BBQ burger department is its whiskey sauce. Given the fact that I adore whiskey, this sauce is more than flavorful and is something that competitors shouldn’t even dare mimic. If I’m not feeling the BBQ Bacon burger, another reliable choice is Kildare’s signature Dubliner burger. Partnered with a pint of Guinness, it’s a choice I’ll never regret.

Olde New York – CJ Doon

Many of you reading this are probably scratching your heads and wondering where this fine eating establishment is located. Well, allow me to enlighten you. Located at 2298 E. College Ave. near Giant and Pep Boys and across the street from Tubbie’s Mattresses, Olde New York is well off the beaten path for most college students. If you’ve eaten here, chances are you have reliable transportation from someplace other than a CATA bus.

Now, for the reason you’re all here: the burgers. In addition to a laid-back, comfortable atmosphere with an interior reminiscent of an old tap room, Olde New York offers a handful of delectable burgers. My personal favorite is the Buffalo Burger, a half-pound beef patty topped with melted blue cheese, mild wing sauce, lettuce, and crunchy potato chips. If that isn’t enough to get your mouth watering, there’s also the Burger Meister with smoked gouda, grilled onions, and Bavarian sauce on a pretzel roll, as well as the Harlem, topped with mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato, and basil aioli. For those looking for something with a little more spice, there’s the Hell’s Kitchen, featuring pepper jack cheese, bacon, smoked jalapeno peppers, lettuce, tomato, and spicy barbecue sauce. Not to mention, all burgers come with your choice of fries, cole slaw, chips, or insanely delicious German potato salad.

For our of-age readers, there’s a dozen beers on draft and a full-stocked bottle shop next door offering plenty of fine drinks to help wash down your burger. It may be a bit of hike from campus, but for the best burger in State College, look no further than Olde New York.

Underground Burgers & Crepes – Maddie Lippincott

First of all, before we even get to the actual burger argument, can we just talk about how unique Underground Burgers & Crepes is as an establishment? It puts a new spin on mindless pre-meal entertainment – rather than annoying paper tablecloths and crayons, they provide an entire room with walls covered in chalkboard paint and an array of colored chalk to decorate, making it an adorable site to see.

The food is a little pricy, but it’s more than worth it. You get enough to feed you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it’s gourmet. The patties aren’t skimpy and they’re cooked to perfection – a little bit of crunch on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside. It also has a wide, but interesting variety of burgers. It has your regular beef burger that you can add whatever toppings you like, the “Underground Burger” which is topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and turkey bacon, and some other alternative burgers made of turkey, lamb, or falafel.

Seriously though, where in State College are you going to find this much fun and variety in one same place? Underground Burgers & Crepes is in a league of its own.

Disagree with our writers? Give us your opinion in the comments section.

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