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The Biggest Mistake Everyone Makes When Ordering a Burger at the Bar

Here's how to make sure you get the best burger, every time.
grass fed bison hamburger with lettuce pickles onions cheese fries

So you're out grabbing a drink with friends, and you decide to get some food to soak up the alcohol. But you've never ordered a burger at a dive bar before and aren't sure how things will turn out. Never fear: You're bound to end up with a delicious meal if you keep these tips in mind. (After all, ground beef is pretty hard to mess up.)

If there's one thing you want to avoid when ordering a burger, it's adding bacon. Here's why one chef suggests you pass on this topping, along with some other burger tips.

What should people avoid when ordering burgers?

While toppings are in the eye of the beholder, there's one thing that Executive Chef Jason Harper from Honey Salt at Parq Vancouver says to avoid.

"Don't waste your time with bacon, unless you make a bacon marmalade or jam with it," Harper says. "It's always leftover bacon, poorly warmed up and chewy, made in a criss-cross, so it's only in four of your bites anyway."

Plus, the taste of bacon can overwhelm the other toppings. Bacon is a strong flavor, which makes it better suited for a breakfast plate than for a burger topping.

Another topping fail, according to Harper, is large lettuce pieces. "Get that big piece of leaf lettuce away," he says. "If you don't bite all the way through, you're pulling it right out from under the patty." Instead, Harper recommends putting shredded iceberg lettuce below the patty to soak up the juice.

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

Is it best to order a burger at a certain temperature?

While you've probably heard that burgers are best when cooked medium or medium-rare, you should just order them the way you like—but keep size in mind, too.

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"Order your burger how you enjoy eating it, whether at a bar or a table," says Brian Riggenbach, Executive Chef and Partner at The Mockingbird in Nashville. "At the end of the day, you are the one eating it, so order what you want while keeping in mind that size makes a difference."

Last of all, don't fret that the burger you're getting at a bar isn't as good as the one you'd get from a fancier restaurant. "That sit-down restaurant might not be as good as the greasy burger at the bar. And if you're at a nice restaurant, I promise that kitchen doesn't spend as much time making sure their burger on the menu is perfect," Harper says. "Order something else. Get the burger when you're at the bar with your friends, or alone."

There you have it: Don't shy away from ordering a burger on your next trip to the bar. Just don't top it with a slice of bacon.

"Some dive bars have burgers better than the fancy steakhouse. Some steakhouse burgers you'll never forget," says Mariel Street, Owner and Co-Founder of Liberty Burger in Dallas. "They're all different, but that's what we love about burgers. You can eat them three times a week and never get bored, there's just so many ways to do a burger."

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Meghan De Maria
Meghan De Maria is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food, product, and restaurant coverage. Read more
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