Alley Twenty Six

320 East Chapel Hill Street, Durham,

Alley Twenty Six made its name on cocktails, but don’t sleep on the bar menu, especially the cult favorite Alley Burger, a chuck-brisket patty topped with bourbon bacon jam and black truffle cheddar—and, if you want, foie gras. Wash it down with The Alley Cocktail, a bourbon-based tipple laced with Luxardo maraschino liqueur that nicely cuts through the burger’s richness.

Al’s Burger Shack

516 West Franklin Street, 708 Market Street, Chapel Hill,

For years, Chapel Hill townies have argued that Al’s makes America’s best burger. Now the rest of the country is coming around. In 2018, Al’s received that designation from TripAdvisor for its Bobo Chili Cheeseburger. No matter your order, all burgers are made from scratch with local ingredients and creative topping combinations, and ring in under $9. 

Bull City Burger and Brewery

107 East Parrish Street, Durham,

BCBB’s burgers are crafted with North Carolina-raised beef, and it makes almost everything in-house, from the buns to the ketchup, working with local farmers to source produce (no out-of-season tomatoes here). We’re fans of the beers, too.


107 West Columbia Street, Chapel Hill,

The downside of Buns is that it’s often swamped with college students, which, if you’re not a college student, can be a bit much. The upside of Buns is literally everything else: It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s delicious, there’s a ton of options, there’s good beer, and you can get wasabi mayo for your fries. 

Chuck’s Burgers

237 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh,

As you’d expect from an Ashley Christensen joint, signature burgers here skew Southern and are crafted with local ingredients. Try the Dirty South, crowned with smoked pork chili and tobacco onions, or the Green Jacket, topped with poblano pimento cheese. Round out your order with fries and a coffee- or booze-spiked milkshake.

Cook Out 


The now-ubiquitous Cook Out got its start thirty years ago in Greensboro and spread like wildfire across North Carolina. For good reason, too: If you’re looking for a cheap burger (and a milkshake) in a hurry, there’s no reason to go anywhere else. 

CowBar Burger

411 West Morgan Street, Raleigh,

Morgan Street Food Hall’s resident burger and fry joint has plenty of beef patty burgers (try the truffle burger, topped with truffle butter and shaved truffles), but Dan Yeager gives veggie burgers a cheffy touch, too. The vegan patty is made from curry-infused kidney beans and grilled zucchini.

Dain’s Place

754 Ninth Street, Durham, 

A college dive for burger-loving craft beer enthusiasts, Dain’s is a rite of passage for Duke fans. Build your own burger or opt for owner Dain Phelan’s favorite, The Dainer: an all-Angus patty with lettuce, tomato, thousand-island dressing, bacon, sautéed onions, and cheddar cheese squished into a freshly baked bun (substitute your Miss Vickie potato chips for tots).

Mojoe’s Burger Joint

620 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh,

A staple of Raleigh’s nightlife district, Mojoes’s menu offers a plethora of burger options, but the right choice is to build your own: Pick a patty—there’s beef, of course, but also chicken, turkey, veggie, and black bean—pick your cheese, pick your toppings, pick your beer, pick your way to start (or end) the night. (It’s open until 1:00 a.m.) 

Only Burger 

3710 Shannon Road, 359 Blackwell Street, Durham, 

Only Burger, which got its start as a food truck and now has two brick-and-mortars, offers something for every craving. Choose from turkey, veggie, or beef burgers and an extensive list of (mostly) house-made toppings. Fair warning: It will get messy.

2018 Best of the Triangle Readers’ Picks, Best Burger:

Bull City Burger and Brewery, Durham County

Al’s Burger Shack, Orange and Chatham Counties

Chuck’s Burgers, Wake County