How do we separate the natty patties, from the blando sandos? There’s only one way to find out… FIGHT…

What makes the perfect burger? Do you double up on the patties, add cheese, embrace chaotic toppings, go vegan, lean into the smash, dabble with a steakhouse staple, are we doing potato buns, brioche, and should the meat be pink inside? The truth is, what makes the perfect burger is subjective, so our tournament will dissect the key qualities of each contender, allowing you to choose your own chomp-ion.

These are the best burgers in Dubai

Jalapeño Onion Wagyu Burger, Jun’s

 

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Bun Fight Fact File: From the stable of third culture prize fighter Chef Kelvin Cheung, this Hawaiian-bun-bound spicy smash might be party up front, but it’s strictly business in the back. A double layer of fatty wagyu patty lurks below cheese, comeback sauce and the added mild wildfire of diced Jalapeńo. The blow that sends you to the canvas though is the volume of dense umami Chef Kelvin manages to funnel into the twin beefy powerhouses of the dish.

Juiciness: 9

Bun integrity: 8

Tastiness: 9.5

Customisability: 3

Price: Dhs87

Secret weapon: Quick feet and building heat

@junsdubai

WILDCARD OF THE NIGHT: Smashed Angus burger, Meat Avenue

Bun Fight Fact File: Currently standing two locations (JLT and Jumeirah) tall, Meat Avenue is part delicatessen, part restaurant, and if you’re currently unacquainted with the marvels of Meat Avenue, consider this your invite to ringside seats. Their signature smash is probably one of the less well-known contenders on this pugi-list, but don’t let your guard down if you find yourself facing-off against it. Their US-sourced Angus filling supplies a roundhouse wallop of almost dry-aged flavour right to your pleasure centres. There’s a reason why everyone loves an underdog story. And we’re backing this dog to have its day.

Juiciness: 9.5

Bun integrity: 8.5

Tastiness: 8.75

Customisability: 5

Price: Dhs55

Secret weapon: Surprise

@themeatavenue

Classic Patty, Patty&Bun

Bun Fight Fact File: Fighty, mighty and hailing from the Old Blighty – London, England – Patty&Bun, arrived on our shores just few short months ago, and so was a late bowler-hat-throw into the Bun Fight ring. There’s no debate over it being a venerated champion in its homeland, but does it have what it takes to cut the mustard on a hot humid night in Dubai? Yes. Yes it does. Part of the P&B allure comes from its thicker beef core, usually sporting a velvety pink interior care of the brand standard policy of politely insisting that you experience it medium rare. The smokey mayo x ketchup tag team, is a nice switch-up from the ubiquitous pink sauce of the local scene too.

Juiciness: 9

Bun integrity: 7

Tastiness: 8

Customisability: 3

Price: Dhs79

Secret weapon: triple cook chips (9)

@pattyandbunuae

Wagyu Overload, 3Fils

Bun Fight Fact File: Rave reviews abound from this waterfront enclave, and there are many reasons to take your time perusing their casual-to-fine ensemble. But you can’t bring maki to a Bun Fight, so with dukes raised in the air, let’s look at their burger’s fist-throwing form. The brioche bun hugs a thick wagyu patty, there’s lettuce, provolone cheese and a peppery chipotle sauce. Just don’t let its elegant origin story fool you, the 3Fils burger is more than ready to make a mess of your face.

Juiciness: 8

Bun integrity: 7.5

Tastiness: 8.5

Customisability: 3

Price: Dhs79

Secret weapon: triple cook chips (9)

@3.fils

Wagyu Burger, 11 Woodfire

Bun Fight Fact File: Forged in the firmament of a Michelin Guide kitchen, Chef Akmal’s vision for a burger was never going to fit the traditional street food hustler mould. The wagyu patty is a thoroughbred threat, a pedigree beast, extended pinky finger and ravenous snarl caged in a brioche bun. It’s bedded on mushroom duxelles, topped with uppercuts of shredded gouda and siracha. Naughty and nice, airs and graces and primed to make a mess of diner’s faces.

Juiciness: 9

Bun integrity: 8

Tastiness: 9

Customisability: 4

Price: Dhs85

Secret weapon: born into smoke (8)

@11woodfire

Bull Burger, Eleven Green

Bun Fight Fact File: This new burger bistro in Meyan Mall comes from locally-based culinary power tag-team Sultan and Kinda Chatila and has bun-rushed its way onto the Dubai burger scene with justified hype and queues out the door. Their signature Bull Burger (wagyu beef, cheddar, and beef bacon jam in a Hokkaido milk-bun) is fleet of foot, keen of price and true of aim. Despite just a few month’s presence on the circuit, its already won an international belt, and justified local fandom.

Juiciness: 7

Bun integrity: 7.5

Tastiness: 8.5

Customisability: 3

Price: Dhs59

Secret weapon: bacon jam (7)

@elevengreen.uae

FAST FOOD FIGHTER OF THE NIGHT: High Burger, High Joint

Bun Fight Fact File: Putting the ‘OG’ in ‘boiger’. This homegrown burger chain emerged from humble hole-in-the-wall Al Manara origins to become a superpower in Dubai’s casual dining sphere. The menu incorporates secret techniques and tweaks inspired by a global search for the perfect burger and frequently features fever dream specials. But their staple smash – the High Burger is one bun you don’t want to shun. Perfectly balanced, zero pretense, and the patty blend is a real rumble in the urban jungle.

Juiciness: 7.5

Bun integrity: 8

Tastiness: 8.5

Customisability: 8

Price: Dhs39

Secret weapon: Beep & Dine, High At The Towers (9)

https://www.instagram.com/high.joint/?hl=en

The Good Cheeseburger, Good Burger

Bun Fight Fact File: Calling yourself ‘Good Burger’ is a brazen strut, and a self-sabotaging one if it’s not backed up by banging burgs. Fortunately for this brand, which began life as a pop-up at Maiz Tacos, the energy of their meat-wiches was strong. Too strong, in fact, to remain an amateur fighter for long and now all grown up and moved out, Good Burger is snatching fame and acclaim from the city’s snacking connoisseurs. Their classic cheeseburger floats like a butterfly, and sings as only a smashed patty can.

Juiciness: 8.5

Bun integrity: 7

Tastiness: 8

Customisability: 7

Price: Dhs50

Secret weapon: Taco heritage (6)

@goodburgerdxb

Original Cheez, Neat Burger

Bun Fight Fact File: We recognise that Neat Burger is not a home-grown burger joint – nor does it sell what hardline purists would call a burger. But for a truly fair scramble, we needed a meat-free culinary concept to represent vegan interests in the Bun Fight. And this outfit from F1 legend Lewis Hamilton, has got an untamed monster lurking under the hood. The original cheez is a quintessential American diner cheeseburger packed with all the ketchup, mustard, pickles onion and (plant based) cheese you’d expect. Just with zero cruelty.

Juiciness: 5

Bun integrity: 7

Tastiness: 7

Customisability: 4

Price: 38

Secret weapon: Entirely vegan (8)

@neat

FIGHTER OF THE NIGHT: The OB Cheeseburger, Orfali Bros.

Bun Fight Fact File: The super Orfali brothers really are some of Dubai’s best respected homegrown restaurant heroes. And for good reason, take a look at the award-winning, Michelin Guide-recognised menu of their Wasl 51 Mall restaurant. It shows off creativity, craft and range applied to both Middle Eastern cuisine, and international dishes. Lurking amongst the creations, are a couple of wagyu burgers, and whilst they’re not the cheapest, pound-for-pound these elite units are in the running for Top Bun.

Juiciness: 9

Bun integrity: 8.5

Tastiness: 10

Customisability: 4

Price: Dhs85

Secret weapon: Epic squidge factor (8)

@orfalibros_bistro

Sal’s Burger, Sal’s Burger Kitchen

Bun Fight Fact File: Something of a wild card in the bun fight, Sal’s makes the cut off-the-back of its reputation in the Dubai burger fancier community. You’ll find it in the Depachika foodhall of Nakheel Mall, its signature move is a polished version of the old jab, jab, hook. It steps into the ring with purpose and adorned with USDA beef, cheddar cheese, a secret sauce and tailored brioche bun. Sal’s is ready to go toe-to-toe with any of its all-star rivals.

Juiciness: 7

Bun integrity: 7

Tastiness: 7

Customisability: 7

Price: Dhs68

Secret weapon: Slider mode (7)

@salsburgerkitchen

Cheese Burger, Pickl

Bun Fight Fact File: This brand might not have kicked off the current Dubai burger-naissance, but it certainly lit the fire that’s under it. Much like Rocky Balboa, the training, preparation and dedication put into popping shots at sides of cattle has resulted in the homegrown brand going global. The secret beef blend in the smash chuck is a knock out, add that to the house sauce, titular pickles and potato bun, and it’s easy to see why Pickl will always be a contendor for the crown. Still hungry? If it’s fries, it’s fries.

Juiciness: 7.5

Bun integrity: 8.5

Tastiness: 7.5

Customisability: 9

Price: Dhs32

Secret weapon: Eponymous pickles (8.5)

@pickl.mena

Classic Slawburger, Slaw

Bun Fight Fact File: Your vote for burger of the year in the What’s On Awards 2023, this smash and grab locale is probably best known for its non beef burger and the plump fried chicken wedges that fillet, but to overlook the classic chuck hamburger is sweet folly. Flexing American style muscle, slawed cucumbers and LaLa land sauce, this B-unit comes out swinging and doesn’t stop till the job’s done.

Juiciness: 6.5

Bun integrity: 8

Tastiness: 8

Customisability: 9

Price: Dhs30

Secret weapon: Ghost pepper chicken strips (8.5)

@houseofslaw

Side Show

Choosing the right side dish is important. Select sagely and it can enhance your whole dining experience, order poorly and you’re left looking longingly at your burger buddy’s haul. These are some of the dishes, that give us heart-shape side eyes in Dubai.

Fries

Fries are of course the most common burger bedfellows, and there are some premier-chip examples in Dubai at the moment. Those at hipster chicken joint, Bonbird (City Walk) are incredible new additions to the scene, and we’ve always been passionate supporters of what Five Guys does with potato.

Loaded fries

You have to be in the right mood for loaded fries. And not wearing cream trousers. But if you are a fan of the three-ton mess, we’re right behind Salt’s salt and vinegar sprinkling with parmesan cheese. They’re like sophisticated versions of nostalgic crisp picks, Monster Munch. Pickl have multiple options, but their Sando fries hit hard – you just might not have any room for a burger afterwards.

Milkshakes

Great shakes are also essential picks for some. The options in our city run the gamut from Black Tap’s Burj-esque Freakshakes, to classic Californian frozen custard at the likes of Shake Shack. Our hot picks are the classic-style hand-spun shakes from Five Guys, and deeply creamy vintage cups from newcomer Eleven Green.

Mac and Cheese

Make Mac and Cheese a standard side. That’s our single-issue manifesto for burger bars in Dubai. Dave’s Hot Chicken is on board with the message but, for us, it’s Buffalo Wild Wings that walks away with the fast food M&C crispy-on-top crown.

Images: Provided