A good burger in Tucson can be rare, according to Caliente readers. They also like them medium rare, well done, with different types of cheeses, on different types of bread and with a variety of toppings, including ketchup, mayo, mushrooms, lettuce, bacon and guacamole. Hundreds of Tucsonans participated in Caliente's 2013 Burger Battle by sounding off through Facebook and by email about who makes the best burgers in town. The result was a long list of top-notch burger joints located across the city.
Lindy's on 4th
431 N. Fourth Ave. 207-6970. lo4th.com
Open since 2006, Lindy's received national fanfare when it was featured on the Travel Channel show "Man v. Food" for its OMFG challenge in 2009.
Host Adam Richman polished off the restaurant's 12-patty OMFG mega-burger - buns, cheese, meat and all - in just over 20 minutes.
Manager Matthew Otto said people still regularly come in to take on the OMFG, which now consists of nine patties, but most of Lindy's customers prefer easier-to-consume options.
Some of the big sellers are the Mac and Cheese Burger and the Texas Belt Buckle, with bacon, barbeque sauce, onion rings and Cheddar cheese.
Lindy's, named for owner Lindy Reilly, also has a rotating burger-of-the-month option. This month, it is serving The Resurrector, a burger topped with deviled egg salad, bacon, cream cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, in honor of Easter.
Customer Stephanie Reuter gets the Shroomin' Cow when she visits Lindy's, a burger covered in mushrooms, Swiss and Cheddar cheeses, lettuce, tomato, onions and Lindy's sauce.
Reuter appreciates the value for money that Lindy's provides.
"For $7 I get all that stuff on my burger," she said. "You go anywhere else and by the time you are done adding toppings, you've spent $12."
Burgers run from $6 to $15 at Lindy's, except for the OMFG which is $24.99 or free if you can finish it in under 20 minutes.
5350 E. Broadway, 514-9797. and 47 N. Sixth Ave. 624-4416.
This homespun chain has a dozen signature burgers to choose from at two locations, one in the Williams Center and the other across from the Ronstadt Transit Center, downtown.
Both locations work with Angus beef and make many of the sauces and toppings for the burgers in-house.
Spokesman Mark Volner said the local chain's top three burgers are The Monkey, with roasted poblano peppers, sauteed mushrooms, onions, lettuce, tomato, bacon and two types of cheeses; the Smoked Cheddar and Bacon burger with shredded lettuce, diced tomato, onion and a garlic herb mayo; and the Sonora burger, which comes with Chihuahua cheese, shredded cabbage, diced bacon and an avocado salsa topping.
Monkey Burger regular Carrie Fox, 31, prefers The Plymouth, the restaurant's turkey burger, with smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded lettuce, sun-dried tomatoes and an avocado pesto.
"I love turkey burgers in general, but their burger is so juicy," she said.
Choices range from $7.50 to $9.50.
6453 N. Oracle Road. 797-1233. theparishtucson.com
This Southern fusion gastropub on Tucson's northwest side received overwhelming support from patrons for its signature Parish Burger, which comes covered in blue cheese, bacon, Dijon mustard and a red onion marmalade.
The restaurant topped Caliente's online Facebook poll with more than 300 votes.
The Parish Burger is a best seller for The Parish, according to Steve Dunn, who opened the restaurant in 2011 with Bryce Zeagler and chef Travis Peters.
One of the things that sets the burgers apart, he said, are the French kaiser rolls on which they are served, made daily at La Baguette Bakery on East Prince Road.
Artist Levi Koenen, owner of the Lost Highway Sign Company, drives from midtown Tucson at least once a month for the burger.
"It has got full flavor," he said. "The presentation is nice too, but the flavor is just outstanding."
The Parish Burger is $12. The Parish also has a more typical Backyard Burger for $9.
Sullivan's Eatery & Creamery
6444 N. Oracle Road. 297-9974.
The name change from Swensen's Ice Cream to Sullivan's Eatery & Creamery last December didn't result in any drastic menu changes for the longtime northwest Tucson restaurant.
For the most part, things remained the same, including its burger option, which received the lion's share of write-in burger-battle votes from readers.
Sullivan's Original Burger, not to be confused with its two patty melts, is a popular item for Sullivan's, an eatery owned by Jerry and Kathy Sullivan.
Angie Cramblit, a manager at the restaurant for the last eight years, said the burgers are unique because the meat used comes fresh from Dickman's Meat and Deli, located in the same shopping center.
The Original is $6.75 with more than 15 toppings to choose from, including garlic mayo and bacon strips, at 65 cents a topping.
Paul Canez, a customer at Sullivan's for the last 17 years, said the burgers keep him coming back because they remind him of his dad's cooking.
"It is a simple burger, that's fresh and with great flavor," he said.
Marcia Purcell, 80, has eaten at Sullivan's for decades. She went regularly with her husband until his death in 1997. Her adult children have carried on the tradition with their families.
"They provide very prompt service from the kitchen to my table," Purcell said.
Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar
6390 E. Grant Road. 298-2020 and 1865 E. River Road. 299-7799.
Tucson's first Zinburger, part of Fox Restaurant Concepts, replaced the upscale Bistro Zin on East River Road in 2007.
Arizona restaurateur Sam Fox, who got his start in Tucson, then doubled down by opening a second location in the old home of his Montana Avenue in 2011.
Zinburger offers a strong selection of specialty burgers, including the $10 El Diablo, which comes with pepper jack cheese, jalapeños, caramelized onions and a chipotle mayo.
The most expensive option on the burger menu is the Kobe Burger ($15), which is served with Cheddar cheese, wild mushrooms and mayonnaise.
Hydrologist Andy MacLeod enjoys eating the Diablo burger with a turkey patty at the Grant Road spot.
"It is so full of flavor," he said. "I like the chiles and mayo that they use."
Marcia Ring, the director of marketing and communications at Tohono Chul Park, prefers the Plain & Simple Burger ($9), with lettuce, tomato and mayo.
"They use these thick patties of high-quality Angus that melt in your mouth," she said.
McMahon's Prime Steakhouse
2959 N. Swan Road. 327-7463.
Known for its tasty steaks and other high-end fare, McMahon's has also earned a loyal following for its burger, which it serves all day in both its bar area and restaurant.
The Burger, as it has creatively been dubbed, uses 100 percent certified Angus beef, with trimmings from the restaurant's filets, rib-eyes and New York strips.
Toppings are kept simple: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and McMahon's house Dijonnaise sauce.
The Burger is $8.95, unless you come during designated happy hours, which are all day on Mondays and 3-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays.
During those times, the burger is only $5.
McMahon's, part of Bob McMahon's Metro Restaurants group, also has a turkey burger option for $8.95.