Time Out goes in search of the best burgers in Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
The quintessential American snack has invaded the island and, nowadays, there are countless burger joints in Bahrain. From sophisticated gourmet patties to greasy fast food grub, meat feasts to unique vegetarian options, there’s a sandwich available for every taste. So we went on a hunt for the island’s ‘best’ burger, taking us from Riffa to Amwaj, Adliya to Hamala, testing and tasting every signature and best-selling dish in between. We found the good, the bad and the downright ugly on our mission but we also came across some serious gems. Here’s what made the cut…
Classic Dutch Burger at Café Amsterdam 5/5 The ground sirloin Dutch beef patty on this burger is cooked exactly how you like resulting in a tender and succulent sandwich topped with caramelised onions and roasted tomato which adds great sweetness to the overall taste. This is smothered in melted Gouda cheese and Café Amsterdam’s signature sauce, all squished together in a soft homemade bun. Meanwhile, on the side, you’re served with some of the best chips this island has to offer. BD5.6. Café Amsterdam, Block 338 (3200 0177).
Caliente Burger at Mooyah 4.5/5 If you like a bit of spice then this is definitely the burger for you. The Caliente Burger at this Texan chain is juicy and provides four levels of spice from the fresh jalapenos, buffalo sauce, Cholula sauce and the Pepper Jack cheese. The flavour explosion is rounded off nicely by the cooling ranch sauce. It might sound like sauce overload but, trust us, it works. BD2.8. Mooyah, American Alley, Juffair (1717 9178). Other location: Amwaj Islands.
Ithaca Crispy Burger at Bluefield Burger 3.5/5 Bluefield Burger offers up a huge range of decent patties but, as this small restaurant chain was born in the heart of Greece, we had to try the homegrown Ithaca Crispy Burger which encompasses all the flavours of the Med. Alongside the tasty beef patty and grilled tomatoes, fried onion strings add great texture and the signature yoghurt sauce is cooling, cutting through any sharpness from the rest of the ingredients. BD3.6. Bluefield Burger, Al Raya Mall, Juffair (1721 4441).
Polo burger at Polo Gastropub 5/5 This outstanding offering is made using certified Angus beef brisket, rump and fat trimmings, soaked for 12 hours in brine, and then created using their own special recipe. The result is a burger so delicious and so moist, served in a homemade brioche bun so soft, you’ll be thinking of this one for days to come. BD6. Palace Boutique Hotel, Block 338 (1772 5000).
Angus sliders with squid ink buns at Tapas Bar & Restaurant 4/5 You’ll realise the use of squid ink in recipes is more than just a passing fad when you’re introduced to these well-executed sliders at Sofitel’s Tapas Bar & Restaurant. The jet-black sheen of the buns adds dramatic flair to the trio of mini burgers, and the black Angus beef patty melts in your mouth, like the red cheddar and mozzarella on top of it. You’ll also be happy to know the squid ink doesn’t affect the flavour too much. BD4.8. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (1763 6363).
The Elvis at Grub Shack 4/5 The first burger we’re recommending from this popular Hamala hang-out is the highly unusual, but delicious, ‘The Elvis’. Now, keep an open mind here as it combines cheese, beef bacon, lettuce, onions, grilled bananas, smooth peanut butter AND mayo – yes, we know it’s weird but for all you PB&J fans out there, thanks to the saltiness of the peanuts and sweetness of the bananas, alongside the juicy meat flavours and cheesiness, this is dynamite. BD3.8. Grub Shack, Hamala (1713 1363).
The Liz Taylor at Grub Shack 3.5/5 Simply because Grub Shack is one of the more innovative burger houses on the island, we had to include two of their most triumphant creations on this list. Second for the shack is The Liz Taylor, which appeases the discerning foodie palate with a classy truffle infused burger patty, parmesan cheese, grilled onions, rocket, sundried tomatoes and truffle aioli. This is unadulterated indulgence at its best. BD4.3. Grub Shack, Hamala (1713 1363).
Smoked brisket burger at Sage & Sirloin 3/5 We love the selection of gourmet burgers at Hamala delicatessen Sage & Sirloin but it was the smoked brisket burger that spoke to the foodie in us the most. The brisket has been smoked overnight, shredded into fine, fat-less pieces and then dressed with a heavenly barbecue sauce that provides a little chilli kick as you indulge. You can pop it on a white or brown bun – either one is as soft as soft can be. BD4.8. Sage & Sirloin, Hamala (1721 2075).
Hambourgeois at Paul Café & Bakery 4/5 The burger at this popular French café is absolutely whopping in size but still delicious. It’s held together nicely with the soft, brown bun and the beef is cooked to your liking. It’s then topped with tomatoes, pickles, lettuce and barbecue sauce and served with a side of chunky potato wedges and a mixed green salad. You also have the option to pile on mushrooms or cheddar cheese for an extra cost. We went with the cheese and were glad we did! BD4.6. Paul, Seef Mall (1758 0073). Other location: City Centre Bahrain
Original Legendary burger at Hard Rock Café 1/5 Hard Rock Café has been located on Exhibition Road for decades now and is great fun for a night out. They market their burgers as ‘legendary’ but the Original Legendary burger did let us down as the meat was dry, the bun fell apart and there was a lack of seasoning all round. They did offer a generous portion, however, and had decent toppings with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, a massive golden fried onion ring, lettuce and vine tomato. BD5. Hard Rock Café, Exhibition Road (1729 1569).
Elevation Burger (Messy) at Elevation Burger 3.5/5 New Zealand, the home of Elevation Burger, is well known for its quality beef and dairy, so expectations were high when we tried this burger, bolstered by its organic credentials – grass-fed, free-range beef. We try the ‘Elevation Burger’ with two beef patties and double cheese. The cheese is a strong cheddar and, as we chose to have the ‘messy toppings’, we got more signature Elevation sauce, tomatoes, mustard, pickles, lettuce and caramelised onion. It’s a little greasy and messy but highly enjoyable, leaving you satisfied but not stuffed. BD3.4. Seef Mall, Seef (1758 7828). Other location: Riffa Views (1725 6828).
Blaze Signature with chilli con carne at Blaze Burgers & More 4.5/5 When you discuss Bahrain’s best burgers many people cite Blaze among the top contenders. We tried the Blaze Signature patty – 200 grams of minced beef with a melted red cheddar filling – topped with chilli con carne in a whole wheat bun. The authentic, high quality chilli is tasty and tender. Surprisingly, the burger is also really well-assembled. It’s the kind of burger you’re going to polish off no matter what. BD3.9. Block 338, Adliya (1774 4773).
Good Melt Burger at Casper & Gambini’s 3/5 The new restaurant Casper & Gambini’s, at Seef Mall, has loads of burgers on its menu with lots of beef options, as well as chicken and salmon versions for those avoiding meat. On our hunt, we tried the Good Melt Burger which comes with Australian prime beef, cheddar and Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, onion rings, lettuce, onion, tomato and mayonnaise. It all works together well, it's a decent effort and, importantly, the structural integrity of the burger is sound. BD4.5. Seef Mall, Seef (1728 0089).
Triple Cheese Burger at The Meat Co 4/5 You can always guarantee the steaks at The Meat Co are great so we had to test the burgers. The Triple Cheese Burger is, as it says, a premium grilled beef patty layered with three types of cheese – creamed, buffalo mozzarella and cheddar. It is also topped with capsicum pesto, caramelised onions, lettuce and tomatoes. It's a decent portion and as the patty is basted with homemade sauce, the flavour profile is lip-smacking. You just can’t beat the quality but, for the price, we should expect so. BD8. Block 338, Adliya (1774 2080).
Crunchy Zone at Burger Zone 3/5 During our search we came across this small spot in Riffa quite by accident – a happy accident. On recommendation from the friendly staff, we went for the off-the-menu ‘Crunchy Zone’ burger which turned out to be surprisingly good. The beef is of good quality, there is plenty of sauce, the bun is soft, but the kicker is the crispiest fried beef bacon we’ve ever had. It was a unique concoction which would have us coming back for more. BD2. Bukuwarah, West Riffa (1724 5417).
Beef burger with cheese at Jan Burger 3/5 Anybody who has lived in Bahrain for a lengthy amount of time will surely have heard of stalwart burger spot Jan Burger. It started with one shop in Hoora back in the mid-nineties and has since spread all across the island. We revisited the branch in Bukuwarah for nostalgia’s sake but must say the quality of beef and produce isn’t what it used to be (aside from the chips – the chips are delicious). It’s a decent burger that’s a part of Bahrain’s history but they certainly have some stiff competition these days. 800 fils. Bukuwarah, Riffa (1777 2433). Other locations: Muharraq (1733 1991); Jid Ali (1778 0383); Hamad Town (1741 4811); Adliya (1771 2505).
Double Cali at Cali Burger 2.5/5 A lot of buzz has surrounded the opening of Cali Burger, a chain straight out of California that aims to bring tasty burgers with fine fresh ingredients to the hungry public. This particular burger in the Bahrain branch disappointed us somewhat, however, due to a lack of seasoning put on and condiments available in the store (ketchup only!) but we do appreciate the quality of ingredients and freshly baked buns they use. BD2.9. Seef Corner, Seef District (1700 0850).
Half beef half turkey at Destination Burger 2/5 Bahrain’s newest homegrown burger joint is Destination Burger, located on the bustling American Alley in Juffair. We like the concept – you can customise the filling, toppings and opt for a bun or lettuce wrap – and the brand new indoor-outdoor venue. This time we tried the unique turkey-beef burger creation – two patties, two types of protein. While the quality is top notch, the overall execution of the burger, and the combination of both meat and poultry, didn’t quite hit the spot on this occasion. BD2.8. American Alley, Juffair (1700 1212).
Chipotle chicken and avocado sliders at Nino 4/5 Popular Italian/international eatery Nino is well known for serving up some mean burgers and sliders. Our favourites have to be the starter portion of chipotle chicken and avocado sliders. A crispy chicken burger is infused with chipotle chili, black cumin seeds, pickled onion aioli spread and avocado. It's bite-sized and it's tasty but they do lose marks for skimping on the avocado. BD4.6. Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (1756 6555). Other location: West Riffa (1361 3666).
Route 63 Burger at Burger 63 4/5 This local burger house has been around for years offering up a decent selection of basic burgers from two basic locations (no seats, just honk your horn and leave). We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the succulent meat and the soft, soft bun, which was complemented by an array of well-balanced flavours. BD1.3. Bukuwarah, Riffa (1789 6363). Other location: Muharraq.
Big Smoke Burger at Big Smoke Burger 2/5 Toronto-based chain Big Smoke Burger, which has taken the world by storm with its ‘high-style fast casual food’ and now they’ve come to The Walk Bahrain. We tried the signature Big Smoke Burger which is a whopping six-ounce burger with horseradish mayo, caramelised onions, smoked cheddar, tomatoes and lettuce. It’s undoubtedly huge but, in this instance, the flavor combination didn’t quite work and it was overloaded with the onions. BD5.1. The Walk, Riffa (7710 7777).
American Wagyu beef ‘sliders’ at CUT Bar & Lounge 5/5 The brand new bar and lounge in the Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, which is linked to the fabulous steakhouse by Michelin-starred chef Wolfgang Puck, has a fabulous bar bites menu featuring these exciting sliders (and a delicious, regular burger for hungrier folk). The homemade brioche buns are wonderful, the meat is cooked how you like and to perfection, and the combination of in-house condiments with the fresh ingredients is top notch. BD7. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, Manama (1711 5000).