While Nagoya has the local food down pat, sometimes the craving for comforting familiarity strikes, and only its only burgers will do. This sentiment was beaten to death by the old NAGMAG, which once frequently spotlighted burger joints across the city. But they are long gone; RIP to a LEGEND; with the magazine’s pages now closed, it’s time to revisit and update the burger scene in Nagoya. This time you get my favorites and nothing else. From the authentic American flavors of Midtown BBQ to the artistic creations of Handsome Burger and the unique blends at The Risco, Nagoya’s burger landscape offers a diverse and satisfying array for those seeking a taste of home.
Midtown BBQ Nagoya is undoubtedly the best place in Nagoya for authentic American cuisine and a steakhouse menu. With its unique ambiance and delicious food, not to mention the river view, it is a must-visit for food lovers. The burgers served here are nothing short of excellent. Made with 100% beef and flame-grilled to perfection, they are succulent and substantial, leaving you craving for more. The menu offers a wide range of burgers to choose from, with the Little Pig burger being a huge favorite among patrons. But if you’re up for a challenge, then the Great Outdoors burger is a must-try. It boasts four beef patties and four types of cheese, making it a truly indulgent meal that is sure to satisfy your taste buds. I personally recommend the classic bacon burger. So simple, but yet so perfect.
Robb Shannon is the owner of Midtown BBQ in Nagoya, Japan. His vision for the restaurant stemmed from his desire to recreate the cherished memories of his childhood, during which his grandfather would light up the smoker and fill the air with the scent of barbecue while his uncle roasted a full pig on the spit. This dream was realized with Midtown BBQ, a Steak and smokehouse that emphasizes delicious food, great drinks, and gracious hospitality. The restaurant is renowned for making almost everything on its menu in-house. I cannot recommend this spot enough.
Where: Nagoya, Nakamura Ward, Meieki, 5 Chome−24−3 (map)
Handsome Burger in the Fushimi underground mall is known for its exceptional burgers, which is fitting considering that is the only thing they make. Burgers, fries, and drinks. Talk about keeping it simple. The burgers at Handsome Burger are so good that they’re almost a work of art, making it the ideal place for those who love a visually appealing burger. I think they are as close to an In&Out burger as I have ever had anywhere, which may not be an accident.
What sets Handsome Burger apart is the story behind it. The owner was so impressed by the burgers he tasted in San Francisco that he decided to quit his job and pursue his passion for burgers. He went to the US to train as a burger chef and returned to Japan to set up an authentic burger bar. As a result, every burger served at Handsome Burger is made with the utmost care and attention to detail. The menu at Handsome Burger is concise, focusing solely on burgers and sides. The classic burger is a must-try, but the menu also features a range of other burger options to choose from. The prices are also incredibly reasonable, with the basic burger starting at just ¥600. I HIGHLY recommend adding things; it really does make for a better burger, especially their actual bacon.
The Risco’s gourmet burgers are a feast for the senses. Made with an Aussie beef base, it is then infused with wagyu Hida beef fat and sweet Hida pork which results in a unique, rich, and slightly sweet flavor that sets it apart from other burgers. The buns are perfectly baked, crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. The shop itself is an experience on its own, with a cool and edgy rock and roll/rockabilly sensibility that is evident in every corner of the place. The ambiance is further enhanced by a superb soundtrack that adds to the overall dining experience.
My one complaint is that you have to build a burger. Sure, there are some preset burgers, but they are fancy; for example, the jalapeño-packed The Mexican. The heat is perfectly balanced, and the flavors are bold and satisfying. Another option is the Japan burger, which is an excellent choice. It is made with shiso, a Japanese herb that adds a unique and refreshing flavor, and lotus root, which provides a satisfying crunch. But, if, like me, you just want a burger, you have to order it piece by piece, which is really annoying. I am cheap, so I don’t want to add 100 yen, then 200, then, well, you get the picture, but it is a great spot if you can get beyond that like I can’t! Also, a lot of their burgers are super tall, which kind of bugs me. I still recommend it. The burgers are a masterpiece, combining high-quality ingredients, expert cooking techniques, and innovative flavor combinations that will leave you wanting more.
This place was the only game in town for YEARS, and old-school Nagoya folks will still stop in and give it some love. Now there are many more options than there used to be, and Layers has moved down the list a bit, but their burgers are undeniably still delicious. It’s worth noting that the serving sizes may not be enough for those with bigger appetites. If you make the trip, I highly recommend trying the avocado burger. It’s flavorful, juicy, and topped with fresh avocado that adds a creamy texture to the burger. If you’re worried about the portion size, you could always order extra fries or double the patty to make it more filling.
Moreover, this restaurant offers a unique and eco-friendly beer option that you won’t find anywhere else. They have bottles of Kami Katz beer from Tokushima, which is made using organic ingredients and is brewed in an environmentally sustainable way. This beer is not only delicious but also a great choice for those who care about the environment.
Burger Stand N’s
“The Burger Stand N’s” which opened in December 2017 near Ikeshita Station, is known for its gourmet burgers and focus on quality ingredients. They offer a variety of burgers, sides, and desserts, including hot sandwiches and pancakes. Their highlight is their signature burger, “THE N’s,” described as the ultimate burger designed to let diners directly experience the taste of meat, akin to eating a steak. They are committed to fresh ingredients, with a focus on creating a unique burger experience. The owner, Mr. Noritake, used to manage Layers when it was the only game in Nagoya for expats, and that experience served as his motivation for the establishment. He wanted to do what he liked and run a passion-driven approach to his own business. It worked; the place is great and is definitely worth a visit.
Image: via https://www.midtown-bbq.com/orders/bbq-bacon-cheeseburger-1-side-p232636252