3 We Tried: In Search of the Best Smash Burger in Honolulu
If burger’s the name and smashing’s the game, we’re there, with empty stomachs and high expectations.
Every year we seek out the best food, shopping, services and more for our Best of HONOLULU issue to celebrate what makes this city so great. While many of these businesses are currently struggling, there are still ways to support them right now. Here are some of the top contenders for Best Smash Burger, which all offer takeout. Find out who won by picking up the issue in late June, on newsstands or at shop.honolulumagazine.com. Subscribe to the print and digital editions now.
Photos: Katrina Valcourt
When Chubbies opened in 2016, it was a game-changer in the local burger scene. Sure, we’ve had greats like Teddy’s and Honolulu Burger Co., but nowhere that specializes in that crispy-edged, juicy magic that only comes from smashing a patty onto the grill for a hot minute. Enter Jeff Nedry’s burger baby, a truck parked on the makai side of the old Sports Authority. Using local beef and a house-made potato bun as the basis for its burgers, options include the ’50s Burger (American cheese, lettuce, tomato, sauce), the El Rey (Pepper Jack cheese, avocado, panko-crusted onion ring, garlic ranch) and the 10 Gallon (bacon, grilled onion, cheddar, barbecue sauce). There’s also a veggie option. We love everything the ’50s Burger ($9) stands for: fresh toppings, sturdy bun, perfectly cooked meat. You can get up to three add-ons, such as bacon, pickles or avocado. Pro tip: Get a side of the beer-battered panko red onion rings to share; they’re a bit too decadent to eat by yourself ($3.25 small, $6.25 large).
960 Auahi St., order online or in person with credit card only, limited delivery available, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, chubbiesburgers.com
Photos: Katie Kenny
The Daley keeps it simple: smash, flip, serve, repeat. Though the menu is extremely limited (a single, double or Beyond Burger, on a La Tour bun and topped only with chopped onions, American cheese and house sauce), The Daley gets away with it because its local beef patties, wonderfully crispy around the edges, are super flavorful and shine all on their own, not hidden under mounds of other ingredients. The dijonnaise with diced pickles keeps the double from being overwhelmingly beefy, making it my go-to order ($11). Pro tip: During the shutdown there’s a “quarantine booze menu” that includes a $32 Litre-rita, a liter of sister restaurant Encore Saloon’s margaritas.
1110 Nu‘uanu Ave., order online or through the Toast TakeOut mobile app, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, thedaleyburger.com
Photos: Katrina Valcourt
Newcomer Betty’s Burgers has the largest smash burger menu on the island, with almost a dozen options that you can further customize with add-ons that include crispy pepper bacon, mushrooms, grilled onion and avocado, plus nonbeef options such as fish, chicken and veggie patties. If you like variety and low prices, Betty’s is worth a shot, though the patties have been inconsistent, according to multiple reviews (including ours). But if you’re a super smash lover, you’ll want to try No. 10, the mushroom and guac burger ($7.75) with lettuce, tomato, onion and house sauce. We also loved the house-made teriyaki sauce and the incredibly soft Liliha Bakery buns. Pro tip: Do not leave this place without ordering fries ($2.89 small, $3.25 large). The well-seasoned, thick-cut steak fries are great on their own or dipped in a shake ($4.89 to $5.49).
1025 University Ave., open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, order by phone or in person, (808) 762-0099, delivery available, bettysburgershi.com