There are only two central roles to fill to make a basic hamburger – the patty and the bun. The supporting characters can be extensive – tomato, cheese, special sauce and so on – but if those two critical roles are not properly cast, the whole production can fall flat under the lights.Thankfully, at The Next Act, in the heart of Edmonton’s theatre district, the patties and buns set the foundation for burgers that are a tour de force.
The beef patty itself somehow manages to be juicy and flavourful without being too greasy or crumbly. It’s tasty enough to carry the basic burger, The Act, on its own, but it doesn’t get lost in an ensemble of bigger, bolder flavours, like the caramelized onions and barbecue sauce on The Critic.Meanwhile, the buns hold together until the last bite without disintegrating in your hands. Paired with crispy fries, burgers at The Next Act are meals worthy of a standing ovation – and an encore. –Glenn Cook
The Downtown Diner looks like a classic, old-fashioned diner, with a black-and-white checkered floor, red vinyl booths and a metal counter, so it’s only fitting that it’s known for a classic beef burger. The Downtowner is completed with basic toppings that have been deliciously elevated, including candied brown sugar bacon, crisp fried onions and smoked cheddar. The result is a burger well worth the drive out to Fort Saskatchewan. You should be forewarned, though – this mammoth burger requires two hands, and plenty of napkins. –Adrianna Szenthe