Let’s face it. The world is full of mediocre burgers. Even in a huge city full of amazing food it can be tough to find a really great burger – unless you know where to look!
Tokyo is full of independent restaurants that serve up a mean plate – but can be hard to find for those not in-the-know. Don’t worry though! We spent a few weeks ‘investigating’ (read as: eating) and weeded out our top five Tokyo indie burger joints!
Price Range: ¥900 – ¥1550
Highlight: puns, mashed potatos
Based in the middle of Shibuya minutes from the station, this little burger hideout is a great discovery. Just to name a few items on the menu, you have “Whoopi Goldburger,” “Kevin Bacon Burger,” and “Sarah Jessica Burger”–all puns intended. Smokey patties, big buns, the thickest cut bacon, and the interesting choice of mash makes this a must for any burger connoisseur
The beer menu is nothing to sniff at either with bottles of beers from all over the world. The interior is pretty hipster with writing on the walls and stickers plastered around the bar, but it feels like a genuine reflection of the two guys that run it. They’re in a punk band, so they get a cool pass
Open from noon to 11pm, expect to wait in line at busy times, like lunch and dinner. Also, be careful turning up toward closing time as they sometimes sell out of patties on super busy days.
Price Range: ¥700 – ¥2000
Highlight: onion rings and red
Located around 5 minutes walk from Ningyocho station in western Tokyo, the bright red exterior of Brozers can’t be missed. For a burger restaurant of this calibre, it doesn’t feel hipster or gourmet–which I feel can sometimes ruin the vibe. This place just screams “All-American(Japanese) diner”.
The menu is very comprehensive a ton of classic combinations available so there’s no need to mess around with ordering extra toppings. Plus you can order the “Lot Burger” when you are thinking “Give me everything! Put it all in!” They even serve up fish burgers and chicken burgers. Another little perk of this place is that you get a serving of onion rings with your fries as standard (“yum!”)
Brozers is open from 11am to 10pm Monday through Thursday, 11am to 11pm Friday and Saturday, and 11am to 8pm on public holidays. Going in the evening will help you avoid the busy influx of local salarymen at lunchtime.
Price Range: ¥1250 – ¥2180
Highlight: diner vibes and killer coleslaw
This burger shop is tucked away on a street opposite the huge gorilla on Chazawadori Street in the hip Sangenjaya. It could be that the shop placement has some relation to this huge building-hugging gorilla because any Baker Bounce burger is fit for a king (King Kong that is!)
The big hitters are the “Meat Bomb” that boasts corned beef, a steak, as well as bacon and cheese as toppings; and the “Double Big J Burger” with 2 patties, 2 eggs, 4 cheese slices and 4 bacon rashers. Moreover, the daily specials can get a little crazy, too, like the “potato gratin and egg burger” or the “lemon cream sauce and cheese burger”. Each burger is served up with super tasty coleslaw and the chunkiest potato wedges that you can dip in their tangy homemade ketchup.
The peeling mismatched pastel paint, the faded Coca-Cola posters and the home cured bacon hanging from the bar effortlessly makes you feel comfortable without being too aggressive with the diner vibe. It opens at 10:30am every day and closes at 8pm. If you plan to go in the evening, it’s probably best to ring in advance and give them a heads up.
Price Range: ¥1200 – ¥3380
Highlight: Wagyu beef and horns everywhere
At a stone’s throw away from Shibuya this burger restaurant lies in Ebisu, a place famous for its beer but also put on the map for its delicious burgers. The name seems to be a play on the Japanese wagyu cows being black…black cows…blacows. Therefore, it’s no coincidence that all of their patties are made from 100% juicy black wagyu beef. With a modest choice of toppings, it’s clear that the flavourful patty is the real star of these burgers. Even the normal lettuce, tomato, and onion are only offered as extra toppings and don’t come standard like most places. It’s clear they think that it just gets in the way of your premium meat and super gloopy cheese.
The vibe of the restaurant steps well away from being like a diner and is definitely one of the fancier burger joints in Tokyo. The feel of this place is a little more refined as it’s all about high-quality ingredients like fresh, imported Italian mozzarella, which is super expensive in Tokyo. However, they do serve up their monster “Big Blacows Burger” with two patties, Monterey Jack cheese, fried egg, bacon, and avocado, which is far from being classy. This is one of the more expensive burger places, so expect to pay excess of ¥2000 for a burger and a drink, but it will be worth it.
AS Classics Diner
Price Range: ¥1000 – ¥2500
Highlights: Big taste and lots of choice
The original AS Classics Diner opened up in 2005 near Komazawa Park and soon became popular for its genuine “classic” American diner feel achieved by the deliberately 50s original toys and vintage Coca Cola machines that make up the decor. Due to the influx of dog walkers from the park, they refurbished the outside terrace decking area so despite the permed poodles it’s a nice place to chill in the summer. In light of the success, they then opened up another shop in Roppongi.
At AS, the menu is filled with not only burgers but also great sandwiches and cakes, as well as American classics, such as gumbo and clam chowder. The “basic style” burger is constructed from a well seasoned patty, lettuce, tomato, and grilled onion sandwiched between a fluffy bun smothered in their signature tangy BBQ sauce. Want more? Branch out and try the “Chipotle Jack Burger” with a fiery chipotle sauce smothered in pepper jack cheese or the “PBCB” (Pineapple Bacon Cheese Burger) or even the “Ratatouie Burger,” which comes with bacon, because why not? If you end up becoming a regular, they’ll keep you entertained with their monthly burger and sandwich inventions featured on the lunch and dinner menus. If this all seems too much and you’re thinking “a big menu means mediocre food” you’re wrong. Literally everything is homemade from the in-house cured bacon down to the mayonnaise and ketchup.
Expect to queue at lunchtimes and at weekends as it is popular with the local businesses. If you don’t want to wait go for an early dinner around 5-6pm. It’s open at 11am and closes around 11:30pm. Closed on Tuesdays.