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Double-Stack or Single Patty? Atlanta Chefs Weigh in on the Debate

What's the proper beef proportion for a good burger?

[Photos: Andrew Thomas Lee, Creative Commons]
[Photos: Andrew Thomas Lee, Creative Commons]

On Wednesday, several local chefs made their Burger Week contributions by sharing their opinions on what, exactly, goes into a good burger. Now, we raise the stakes a bit. In a city that features great burgers in both the single-patty and double-stack camps, it's time to pick a side. Below, some of Atlanta's prominent industry insiders declare their allegiance: brown and crispy double-stack, or one thicker patty cooked to temperature.

Do you prefer a double-stack or one thicker patty?

Todd Ginsberg; chef/partner; The General MuirFred's Meat & BreadYalla

Double-stack. Double the caramelization on your beef!

Jeffrey Gardner, executive chef, Common Quarter

I personally prefer a double-stack burger because they remind me of my favorite cheeseburgers from my childhood. All of these great little diners and roadside malt shops had griddled cheeseburgers, and I loved the caramelization, juiciness, and the way the cheese just seemed to melt better.

Doug Turbush, chef/owner, Seed Kitchen & Bar

I'm a medium-rare-burger kind of guy, so I will pick a thicker patty any day — doubles are always cooked through.

Rick Tasman, CEO, FLIP Burger

I like the single stack — more suited to be cooked to order and you can taste the beef.

Eli Kirshtein, chef/owner, The Luminary

I am a double-stack kind of person myself. I think the extra fat, cheese, and texture of the beef is really a serious luxury, but you have to be careful not to mess up the ratio of bun to meat.

Gerry Klaskala, chef/owner, Aria

I believe the double-stack is the way to go. With a single, I always want another. The double satisfies without twice the bun.

Jarrett Stieber, chef/owner, Eat Me Speak Me

I prefer the double-stack. I love that it gets such a great crispness and lots of yummy Maillard browning. Also, I find that rare/medium-rare burgers are kind of mushy and unpleasant texturally, and the juices ruin the bun quicker. Rare isn't always better. If the burger is well executed, it can still be juicy when cooked to well.

Joey Stallings, executive chef/GM, Sweet Auburn BBQ

I love the double-stack — it leaves more room for caramelization and seasoning and more surface area for cheese.

Ted Lahey; executive chef; Table & Main, Osteria Mattone

If one is good, two should be twice as good, but it's not always the case. Aside from a greater surface area upon which to work the Maillard effect, which changes the flavor, there's a greater chance of overcooking the meat. Just do it right once and slap some cheese on it.

Chris Edwards, chef de cuisine, Holeman & Finch Public House

I've always been partial to the double-stack. I think it has something to do with my father, as much of my career does. After an Atlanta Braves playoff game in the ‘90s, shortly before Sid Bream slid into home to win the series, we went through the drive through at Steak ‘n Shake. He ordered two double-stack combos, one with a side of mustard relish. I vividly remember saying the mustard and pickle relish was gross. Now I get it. Thanks, old man!

Alex Brounstein; owner; Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Hi-Five Diner

Depends on my mood. Double-stack is more fast-food drive-in style. You get a good crust on the burger. It's sloppier and kind of indulgent and nostalgic. But I also sometimes crave a single, thicker patty that's nice and rare inside. It's impossible to pick one over the other.

Joey Ward, executive chef, Gunshow

Double thin patties — four times the Maillard reaction, which creates the flavor.

Zeb Stevenson, executive chef, Watershed on Peachtree

I'm probably on the outside with this answer, but I prefer a single patty. I like a good deal of char on the outside of the patty and a juicy interior. That can really only be achieved via char-grilling. Double-stack burgers have their place in the world, but for my money, a thick burger that tastes like it's seen some time over a real fire is where it's at.