No, this is not a drill. I’m finally ready to set off on probably the most insanely brilliant quest of all time; a quest to find the best burgers in the North East of England. I love burgers, they’re right up there as one of my favourite foods and I very rarely order anything else when out and about! There’s just something about the bread meat bread combination that cannot be beaten.
I’m sure that many of you out there are exactly like me and I’m here to invite you along as I check out the best burgers in the North East. I’m going to cover from Middlesbrough to Durham, Sunderland to Newcastle and everywhere in between.
This blog post may never quite be complete. The greatest thing about something like this is that there will always be somewhere new to try or an old favourite that you want to return to. I’ll continually update this post so that you’re fully up to date on the best burgers and where to find them! Oh and they’re not going to be in any particular order either; just have a scroll and get hungry!
Let’s do this.
THE BEST BURGERS IN THE NORTH EAST OF ENGLAND
Fat Hippo – Newcastle/Durham
I couldn’t not start with probably the most well-known of burger joints, Fat Hippo. The burgers here really set the standard and you will never be disappointed. Whilst home grown in the North East, Fat Hippo has expanded massively and you can now find them across the country; from Liverpool to Nottingham and Cardiff to Edinburgh (both opening soon). Here in the North East however, you can get your Fat Hippo fix with two restaurants in Newcastle and one in Durham.
My favourites here are the Wild Bill and Born Slippy. Both are double pattys, obviously, but here’s where the fun begins. The Wild Bill packs in American cheese, smoked bacon, cajun waffle fries, BBQ sauce, ranch and jalapenos. The Born Slippy meanwhile comes with American cheese, garlic mayo, braised pork rib meat, jalapenos and chilli jam. I honestly wish I had room for both.
There’s plenty to choose from with buttermilk chicken burgers too and five awesome sounding vegan burgers which almost, almost but not quite, could tempt me.
All burgers actually comes with fries which feels like a rarity these days and you can really go to town by upgrading them with bacon bits and Fat Hippo’s signature sauce. If the signature sauce isn’t for you, don’t worry, there’s plenty of others to choose from which is great for an addict like me. Oh and always, always, always order sides/starters – the frickles (fried pickles) and beer battered cheese balls are incredible.
Another great thing about Fat Hippo is that you collect reward points every time you eat there which means you can get fatter with more burgers or look cool with some Fat Hippo merch. Price wise, it’s not bad at all – £12.90 or £13.50 for what I’ve described above.
Trust me, Fat Hippo is always a good idea.
Tango – Durham
Durham is a small city but hosts two top tier burger establishments; Fat Hippo and Tango. They are very often pitted against each other as to which offers the best burger eating experience in Durham. However, I don’t think that’s fair; they are both awesome. Whilst Fat Hippo’s attention turns to dominating the rest of the country, Tango continues to impress at home. With outdoor seating on Elvet Bridge, a Summer’s day is well spent here.
In terms of burgers, there’s not as much choice as Fat Hippo but I do love the Bacon & Blue. The chips are great and you cannot come to Tango without ordering the cheese bomb dip. Well it’s not so much a dip, if you just pour it all over your burger and fries! There are other alternatives too with Tango serving up flat iron steaks, Portuguese chicken and hot dogs.
The only slight downside I find with Tango it’s a little more on the expensive side; £15.50 for a double burger with chips included. A classic double cheeseburger however is only £12, £10 if you’re going single. Which you aren’t.
Brackburger – Across Newcastle + Tynemouth
You’ll find a new favourite of mine, Brackburger, in various locations across Newcastle and now in the Surf Cafe at Tynemouth. Brackburger have consistently received rave reviews and whilst I first tried Brackburger at Battle of the Burger at Wylam Brewery, I didn’t feel I could add it here until I tried one from an official location. What I absolutely love about Brackburger is the double beef patties in each burger smashed and seasoned to perfection. The Rueben that impressed me at the Battle of the Burger is a good shout on the menu but the BBQ Boss would be hard to beat if you’re going beef. Who wouldn’t want a Newcastle Brown Ale battered onion ring in their burger?!
My most recent order from Brackburger was one of their insane chicken burgers though which come, as standard, with two boneless buttermilk fried chicken thighs. Basically heaven. I went with the ‘Some Like It Hot’ burger with those chicken thighs slathered in chipotle mayo and spiced cheese sauce plus fried chorizo, jalapenos and sticky buffalo sauce. An absolute mess but so worth it. £12 for that by the way which includes skin on fries!
There are plenty, and I mean plenty, of additional items on the menu that I need to find room for – there’s nachos, loaded chicken strips, jalapeno poppers, all sorts that would make for a feast and a half. Definitely one to keep coming back to!
Ding – Hartlepool
The official Ding restaurant has now opened in Hartlepool after taking the North East by storm with the simplest of burger descriptions; mince in a bun. And god, this is some damn good mince in a bun. This is the first burger to remind me of one of the dirtiest, juiciest burgers I’ve ever had at Mary’s in Sydney.
Apparently ‘Ding’ is Hartlepool slang for ‘idiot’ and the burger joint was set up during the pandemic by three friends. I’m not sure how much experience these guys had before but these are the kind of burgers we need to see more of. I’m so jealous – definitely an inspiration for opening up your own burger joint!
Anyway, the burgers are what we’re here for. They’re all double beef patties with the mince smashed so much it’s falling out the side of the buns. I went for the Chilli Cheese for £10 which comes with American cheese, fresh green chilli, lettuce, onion, pickles and chipotle mayo. Obviously we ordered way too much food but we wanted to try those 24 hour brined chicken tenders with spicy Nashville seasoning and the Poolie Poutine fries. Unreal.
I loved the restaurant itself too which is basically an old school pub with a black exterior with wooden floors, huge windows and black walls inside. Oh and a ‘mince’ neon sign and a photobooth.
Ding is not only well known for its burgers but also its booze. I’d say shots are definitely encouraged here but, having visited during the day, a pint of Beavertown Bones lager was my drink of choice. Where else are you going to find nachos and fries topped with tequila relish!
Ding definitely have to be classed as some of the best burgers in the North East and is a solid reason to visit Hartlepool immediately. Keep an eye on their Instagram too as they’re always coming up with different specials to try!
Meat:Stack – Newcastle
Smashed and steamed to perfection. That’s exactly the type of burgers you’ll be served up at Meat:Stack on the Bigg Market in Newcastle.
I absolutely loved this place when we visited after the lifting of pandemic restrictions in 2020. The ‘Sunak Tray Challenge’ was Meat:Stacks answer to the famous ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme where you could get a burger, fries, chicken and a soft serve ice cream for a bargain price. Insanely good.
Now that more normal times have returned; you can get a West Coast Classic burger (double) for just £7 and I love the sound of the French Canadian which contains stack sauce, streaky bacon, blue cheese, garlic butter, chilli-maple syrup, hash brown and American cheese.
Meat:Stack’s soft serve ice creams are great too. I mean who wouldn’t want a honey nut cornflake topped ice cream.
I can’t wait to return to Meat:Stack who are well and truly going from strength to strength at their new home on the Bigg Market.
Hope & Union – Stockton-on-Tees
What a gem of a find this was! To be honest, since moving to the North East, I hadn’t been for a proper exploration of Stockton. It was only when working with Enjoy Tees Valley at the back end of 2021 that I visited and found probably the friendliest pub & kitchen I’ve been to.
It’s not solely a burger restaurant but what they have on offer here deserve to go straight into this list. I had the Beer & Beef burger which, for just £9.50 will see you get two beer and beef pattys, monterey jack cheese, bacon relish and candied bacon as well as fries. As you’re in Teesside you do however have no choice but to order the Parmo Burger. It’s practically impossible to leave Teesside without having had béchamel sauce dripping down your chin. You can ever upgrade your parmo burger into a hotshot parmo with chorizo, pepperoni, onion, peppers, garlic and chilli for just £1.50.
You don’t just come here though for the burgers, the beer on offer is first class. The Vedett on tap went down a treat.
Lola Jeans – Newcastle/Tynemouth
This is where things really get interesting. I absolutely love Lola Jeans. Don’t just take my word for it though because every year from 2015 to 2019, Lola Jeans won Battle of the Burger (at Wylam Brewery!). Technically these therefore are the best burgers in the North East.
You can visit Lola Jeans either in Newcastle centre itself or across on the coast at Tynemouth. The city centre restaurant is full of character with a real oppulent vibe helped by chandeliers, patterned seating and huge murals on the wall. Downstairs, I’ve heard there’s a little speakeasy bar which I must check out next time I visit.
Anyway, back to the burgers. The menu specifically highlights the five winning burgers and you’ll struggle to deviate from those. I’ve had many a James P Sullivan (who wouldn’t want pickled onion Monster Munch on their burger) and also love 2019’s winner, the Clancy Wiggum with two beef patties, smoked streaky bacon, American cheese, red onion jam, baconnaise, Tennessee BBQ and bacon frazzles. The crisp theme must really resonate with me…
I did once visit Lola Jeans and not order a burger which is practically impossible but trust me the signature steak platter is so worth it.
So, next time your planning a trip up to Newcastle or Tynemouth, you have to visit Lola Jeans or why not go one better and arrange for Lola Jeans to do the catering at your wedding. It’s what dreams are made of.
Five Guys – Teesside Park
I know I shouldn’t really be including huge chain restaurants on this list but Five Guys do good burgers there’s no two ways about it. Five Guys’ first drive-thru restaurant opened recently at Teesside Park so obviously this prompted a visit though we took advantage of sitting indoors and not in the car.
The great thing about Five Guys is that the basic cheeseburger has two beef patties and from there you can add as many free toppings as you like from a list of 15 items including jalapenos, grilled onions and hot sauce. Apparently there are more than 250,000 possible topping combinations though I’m not sure you’d want to even consider trying them all. My choice was a bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, jalapenos and…mayo. I really enjoyed the burger but man they were stingy with the toppings; I think there were 3 jalapeno slices in total and a smidge of mayo. The cheese could have been a little more melted too.
The price of the burgers is in line with all of the others on the list; you really shouldn’t be comparing this to McDonald’s or Burger King. Everything is made fresh daily (not a freezer in sight) so you can be assured you’re getting great quality burgers. A shout-out for the fries too which are cut fresh daily and cooked twice in peanut oil meaning they’re good for everyone. A large serving was more than enough for two of us and you’ll be treated to an extra scoop directly into the bag too. I honestly think there were more chips in the bag and I’m here for that.
You can get unlimited drink refills with the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine (it’s like being back in America) and the shakes have to be tried; over 1,000 different combinations of those alone. Who wouldn’t want bacon in their milkshake, right? I tried one of the milkshakes over in America a few years ago and couldn’t get away from vanilla and salted caramel!
Don’t worry too if you’re reading this post and don’t plan on visiting the North East (though why wouldn’t you, it’s really not grim up north!), you can find Five Guys all over the UK.
Burgers at Home
Not a restaurant but you’lll be surprised at just how good homemade burgers taste. I live in the North East so this counts right? Throughout the pandemic, I’ve tried hard to improve my culinary skills and I’m constantly working on different recipes including homemade burger buns and some of the best Big Mac sauce ever. As a starting point, just get the fattiest mince possible, shape into a ball and then smash the mince as hard as possible down onto a boiling hot pan. All it takes is a bit of salt and pepper and american cheese to get your smash burger fix. Failing that, let’s just hope that some of these awesome burger joints continue to offer cook-at-home packs like this Christmas themed box from Almost Famous…
Honourable Mention – Brioche Burgs
Brioche Burgs is sadly gone from Sunderland but will never, ever, be forgotten. During the pandemic, Courtney was serving up some absolutely insane burgers right from her home and honestly you could just tell the difference when something is cooked with passion. Can’t say enough how much I loved these burgers and the dirty fries but I’ve heard that the burger scene in Melbourne Australia might be getting something special very soon. I may finally have to update this post about my favourite burgers in Melbourne as this would definitely be on the list.
Now clearly I’ve tried a lot of burgers but the quest to find the best burgers in the North East will never end. I already have my eyes on a few different places to try but welcome recommendations so, if you know of the next best burger joint, please please please let me know. So, these are the next places on my list to try:
Salt – Darlington
- 2Knives – Newcastle
The Poachers – Metal Bridge
The George – Stockton
Well, that’s a wrap on this post and it feels like I’ve consumed around 10,000 calories just writing this. The HIIT sessions begin tomorrow… Hopefully my little quest to find the best burgers in the North East will have helped you find somewhere new to try or just give you that push to get back to one of your favourites for yet another burger.
Let me know your recommendations and thoughts in the comments below!
*All photos taken with the Fujifilm X100F using my ‘Chrome Urban’ JPEG recipe which you can check out (as well as many more) here – My 2021 Fujifilm JPEG Settings