Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Tastiest Campus Burgers as seen in U the Magazine

By Christie Hadden, My Restaurant Guru
Christie Hadden is a world traveling food fanatic and founder of My Restaurant Guru, a Triangle-based Web site that connects people to the areas best restaurants. To learn more, visit

A tasty burger from Sutton's Pharmacy
When it comes to classic campus burgers the rules are: it’s gotta be cheap and it has got to be good. Armed with my notepad and a camera, I gallivanted all over each of the Triangle’s major campuses for three days eating burger after burger. Twas no easy task as every burger was selected from the most notable restaurants, all of which have won various “best burger” awards. I ate with fervor.

It didn’t take long before realizing that there are two distinct college genres of burgers: Old Skool and New School. When you break it down Old Skool styled burgers encompass a thin layer of beef on plain white bun cooked on the grill. They are simple, greasy and classic. New School burgers include more options such as whole-wheat buns, turkey or veggie patties and expanded toppings.  Both style of burgers belong in their own category and taste great in their own right. 

Fair is fair, and as much as I wanted to load on the toppings I restrained myself for a real contest of beef and cheese; therefore all judgments are based on the classic cheeseburger. So here it is folks: the list of only the tastiest campus burgers all under five dollars. These burgers are juicy, fresh and so scrumptious you’ll want to lick the foil.


Cloo's is a classic retro joint near NC State
Mission Valley Shopping Center
2233 Avent Ferry Road
Raleigh, NC 27606-2138
(919) 834-3354

Single Cheeseburger: $3.80

The black and white checkered tile is reminiscent of a classic diner. I ran into Coach Tarantini while noshing, so I suspect this is a regular place for NCSU heavy hitters. Be prepared for lines and since everything here is made to order be prepared to wait. But it is definitely worth it!

620 Glenwood Avenue intersection of Peace Street
Raleigh, NC 27603-1224
(919) 832-6799

Single Cheeseburger: $4.49

Perched on the corner of Peace and Glenwood this burger joint is home to the Classic Hall of Fame. If you are mad enough to devour their 1lbs burger your photo will be epitomized on the wall of shame…er I mean fame.  Open late night with $2 burgers after 10pm. If you don’t want beef you can substitute chicken, turkey and veggie burgers for the same price. 

A freshly ground Wimpy's Burger

Corner of Hillsborough & Hicks
Hours: 7am to 2pm M-F closed Sat/Sun

Single Cheeseburger: $3.09

A fair example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Wimpy’s shack is located just west of East Campus and they specialize in old-fashioned burgers that are ground fresh daily. Everything is made to order. Don’t go here if you are in a hurry unless you call ahead first as the lines can get as long as the ladies room cue at a rock concert. And much like tailgating, everything is carryout and there is no place to sit, so many patrons will eat out of their car in the parking lot. CASH ONLY.

Mobile burger truck with newly opened (July) brick and mortar store located at
(919) 724-1622

Single Cheeseburger $4.75

While technically an old skool classic burger, this mobile tin can gets categorized for new school because of its “foodloose” and fancy-free approach to classic dining.  The Only Burger truck posts its location on Twitter and people flood from all points to nosh on fresh ingredients, daily ground beef and hand cut fries. It gets even better when it motors onto Duke because Only Burger accepts Duke Points when on campus.


a view inside Sutton's
159 East Franklin Street
919 942-5161

Single Cheeseburger: $4.39 

Sutton’s is like going back to the future. Serving UNC & Chapel Hill Since 1923 this pharmacy/soda fountain/lunch counter has award winning burgers, hot dogs, fries, & shakes. I recommend the Carolina burger with chili, cheese and slaw; it’s the bomb.  Expect to see UNC royalty if not in person then from overtly displayed photos hanging from the ceilings and walls. And because it’s a pharmacy, you can grab Tums and breath mints on the way out.

A loaded BUNS burger on whole wheat
107 North Columbia Street
(919) 240-4746

Monday to Wednesday, 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Thursday to Saturday, 11:00 am - 3:00 am
Sunday, 11:00 am - 9:00 pm

Single Cheeseburger:  $4.99 

Buns is outta control! With 18 no-charge toppings like caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, chipotle mayo, jalapeños and more, one can purchase a gourmet burger for under $5.  Your choice of freshly baked white and wheat buns, hand-pattied 100% Angus beef, turkey and homemade Veggie patties are offered at the same price. In addition to hand-cut french fries, Buns offers sweet potato fries for that additional boost of Vitamin C.