There were not enough good burgers in St. Joe to get into my original Top 10, which included the surrounding areas. So this list is only for St. Joe burgers!
How do I judge a burger?
First thing I always do is eat just a piece of hamburger meat with nothing on it. Does the meat have its own flavor? Is it juicy? Is it cooked correctly at medium and no more than medium well (exception made for smash/slider)? Is the bun too dry or does it perform the job of sopping up juice and add flavor and depth to the burger? Do the condiments and add-ons actually add to the flavor or detract/distract from it?
Honestly, there are not a lot of great burgers in St. Joseph, so I had to include surrounding areas extended out to Kansas City, Topeka, Omaha, etc. A burger has to at least be great to make my list (an amazing will bump a great every time), but what I’m always on the lookout for is pure bliss, what I call a “hallelujah burger.” The burger that hits your mouth and sends you to that special place in your head where you’re at peace with yourself. It should be noted that not all the burgers are from exclusively “burger joints:” a great burger can come from anywhere.
I fully acknowledge that taste is subjective. I don’t think judging a burger on the quality of the meat, how it’s cooked, if it’s juicy and has flavor on its own is subjective, or whether the bun is too dry or performs its function is subjective, but once you get to condiments, and add-ons, then you enter subjective taste. I fully expect people to disagree with my list and that’s okay. I encourage you to post your own top burgers from the area!
So here is my list. If you have a suggestion of a place that’s not on my list that you think I’d like, by all means let me know and I’ll try them! NOTE: As I try new places, I will add the burgers on here if they meet my Top 10 requirements.
- 06 Ford’s Drive In
- 5028 Lake Ave, St Joseph, MO 64504
- Ford’s is all sliders and those rarely make my list. Ford’s is one of those “don’t judge a book by its cover” places and you could easily drive by it: and you would be wrong to do so. Ford’s is vastly underrated. Their burgers are juicy and loaded with condiments. Get the double bacon cheeseburger and a shake! If you’re a larger person, seating will be uncomfortable, so you may want to get your food to go.
- 05 Adam’s Bar & Grill
- 1612 Commercial St, St Joseph, MO 64503
- Adam’s is busy and that’s a good sign. Several people have told me that while their burgers are good, I should be trying other food on their menu, and I definitely will be going back to do so. They have a variety of burgers to try and all are good. I think the burger meat needs to be seasoned better, but they’re not dry and are thicker than a lot of places (I really wish places would be willing to do their hamburgers medium or medium well if they’re that thick).
- 04 Vogel’s Burgers
- Vogel’s is a food truck, so check their FB page for daily locations.
- You’re going to wait for your burger as they are hand made to order. A variety of styles of burgers are available. Vogel’s locations and hours vary, so make sure you check their FB page ahead of time.
- 03 D&G
- 1918 Frederick Ave, St Joseph, MO 64501
- D&G is one of the few places in town open for lunch on Sunday and their rock & roll themed menu makes perfect sense if you know the quirks of the rock & rollers their items are named after, like the Elvis with peanut butter or the Lemmy with pulled pork on the burger. I recommend both for sure! While there, you can also try one of their amazing tenderloin sandwiches and I definitely recommend the hushpuppies as an appetizer!
- 02 First Ward House
- 2101 St Joseph Ave, St Joseph, MO 64505
- The SJFD Fire Burger is phenomenal. From the perfectly seasoned meat, seared for those crunchy notches, complimenting condiments, flavorful and thick bacon, and an amazing overall flavor profile. I’m looking forward to trying their other burgers for sure! They are open Sunday, so they may be part of my Sunday routine.
- 01 RC’s Lunch Car
- 505 Francis St, St Joseph, MO 64501
- RC’s is 100% my favorite place to get a burger in St. Joseph. In addition to their normal burger, which are always perfectly cooked medium to medium well and are super juicy, they offer specialty burgers almost every week. I basically eat dinner at RC’s every Friday night. Also worth trying is one of their hand-spun milkshakes, Smoked Pork Tacos, and the BBQ Brisket and Gouda sandwich. Enjoy a diner atmosphere as you watch the cooks prepare your food!
But What About?
Where are the standard ones you see on so many other lists from St. Joseph? A lot of the ones on those lists seem to be based more on nostalgia than taste. For example, I’m always going to get me some Town Topic burgers in Kansas City because of the nostalgia (and they’re good), but they’re not in my Top 10 unless I’m doing a nostalgia-based list. If I’m being honest, a lot of the ones on those lists are just not good. There’s one at the top of most people’s lists for St. Joseph that I don’t include because the burgers are always overcooked and as dry as a hockey puck. It doesn’t matter how good your condiments’ flavor profile is if your burger is a hockey puck.