Rochester Hamburgers


Though less "uniquely Rochester" than Garbage Plates and Hots, the burgers served at homegrown Rochester eateries are different from hamburgers in other parts of the United States.

A Rochester-style hamburger will generally have a generous-sized, hand-formed patty. It will usually be served on a soft roll, though some restaurants offer a hard roll or [WWW]kimmelwick or 'weck' roll as an option. The patty will usually be larger than the roll. The ingredients will be fresh, and the burger will be made to order while you wait.

When you ask for "everything" on a Rochester-style hamburger, you'll usually get relish and hot sauce along with the usual ketchup, mustard, onion and pickles. Depending on the restaurant, you may also have the choice of more interesting toppings like blue cheese in addition to the more common cheese or bacon.

Your burger will usually be served on a paper plate, and wrapped in foil if your order is "to go". If you've ordered it with everything, expect a sloppy burger.

Restaurants selling Rochester-style burgers will often serve custard, handmade onion rings, and mug root beer. Though one chain in particular (Tom Wahl's) trades on the 1950's atmosphere of its stores, all of the restaurants listed here are a thing out of time compared to the average McDonald's or [WWW]Wendy's. Don's Original slogan, "Where Quality Predominates", probably best-captures the attitude toward service and food quality that all of these local and regional chains try to provide.

You can get Rochester-style hamburgers (or "Ground Steak Sandwich") at:


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2006-11-17 23:53:47   Don's Original is the best. They have tasty beef patties, and the hot sauce actually has spice. The brighton location is very clean with friendly service. —BenMargolis

2008-06-26 14:14:35   the rochester style burger is a disgrace to the good name of hamburgers everywhere. the worst part is the practice of flattening the patty while cooking, which results in a dry crumbly piece of crap. combine that with the standard lack of mayo, crappy wilted shredded lettuce, and slice of unripe tomato, and you have a recipe for a local food tradition that deserves to be forgotten. —RaginRon

2009-04-19 17:12:24   I have to agree with "RaginRon." The burgers around here are atrocious. I'd way rather make my own—cheaper and better. —morgdaug

2012-08-17 09:22:07   I give Bill Gray's the top spot - their hot sauce is a savory burst of awesome and their rolls hold up better to the moisture of a burger with everything. To the naysayers I'll point out that a good Rochester burger fresh off the grill is anything but dry, and smashing the burger means you have plenty of delicious crust from the Maillard reaction. Every time I come back to Rochester I have to eat one. There are a few other burgers that can come close the the crust on a Rochester burger - In-N-Out comes to mind. But I've never found a burger that brings together the flavor of the crust, the hot sauce, and that hard roll like Bill Gray's does. —Aaron