Cheeseburgers in paradise: Dig into Hilton Head's best burgers

Hilton Head Best BurgerAfter accepting the difficult assignment to locate Hilton Head Island’s best burgers, I did two things right away: bought a new pair of running shoes, and renewed my gym membership.

With that important preliminary work out of the way, I proceeded to ask everyone I knew where I might track down the island’s best burgers, and I got a meaty response: 14 in total. That meant I had a lot of burgers to eat and not a lot of time to do it.

Work work work.

To begin, I adhered to these strict criteria:
• Beef-to-bun ratio: I didn’t want to taste one without the other.
• Flavor: Did the burger taste like beef or something masquerading as beef? 
• Temperature: I like my burger medium rare — not rare, not medium well.
• Bun freshness: This was serious business. No day-old bread.

Furthermore, to keep things fair, I traveled in disguise – black glasses, fake nose, mustache — and didn’t say a word about my quest. So, without further ado, here’s where to get the best beef on the island, in alphabetical order.

Let’s get eating!.


British Open Pub
Quiet please! Enjoy your burger and catch up on sports while surrounded by golf memorabilia in a decidedly low-key British atmosphere.
How it’s done: The Pub uses 100 percent fresh Angus beef, forms the burgers by hand, grills them on open flame and serves them on in-house-baked Kaiser rolls. ($8.29)
Where: Village At Wexford, 1000 William Hilton Parkway, Suite D3.
843-686- 6736,

The Frosty Frog Cafe
The perfect spot for an after-beach burger. Everything about the Frosty Frog is hopping and buzzing — especially those daiquiris.
How it’s done: The Frog uses 100 percent 10-oz. black Angus patties loaded up with Cajun seasonings and A1 sauce. The cooks start their burgers on the flattop griddle, then transfer them to the char grill.  ($7.39)
Where: Coligny Plaza,  1 North Forest Beach Drive.

Harold’s Diner
Walk in, fill out your menu, sit, pay attention, eat, pay, leave. Go into Harold’s famously abrasive diner with a thick skin and cash or come out hurt and hungry. Oh, and don’t ask for Harold. “He’s dead. Toes up,” said Chuck Hyatt, who has owned the place for 10 years.
How it’s done: No special secrets – Harold’s just keeps a screaming hot grill so the beef sears, the spices penetrate and the juices stay inside. ($6.95)
Where: 641 William Hilton Parkway.

Jump & Phil’s Bar and Grill
An old-school island haunt if ever there was one. “Phil (Henry) and I both love to grill out,” co-owner Jump Griffin told me after lunch. “So we had to have a great burger when we started this restaurant.” That was 17 years ago. 
How it’s done: Fresh patties every day, never frozen, always grilled. Also, there’s a bit of fat for flavor. ($9.75)
Where: Hilton Head Plaza, Greenwood Drive.

Red Fish
When you’re chomping on your burger surrounded by vintage wines in the middle of an art gallery, you realize you’re not at a grab-and-go type of place.
How it’s done: Executive chef Sean Walsh and long time executive sidekick/sous chef Melissa Cochran buy the best Angus beef, hit it with great toppings like smoked cheddar,
charbroil it to the desired temperature and serve it on a cornmeal-dusted Kaiser roll.  ($10)
Where: 8 Archer Road.