Gourmet burgers - formed by hand, grilled to order and available in a bewildering variety of shapes, sizes and topping combinations - continue to be a hot trend. Check out the latest wave.
Bull City Burger & Brewery
107 E. Parrish St., Durham; 680-2333
In a nutshell: Burgers from pasture-raised beef, house-baked buns and condiments - everything from mustard to pickles - are made from scratch on the premises. Even the beer is brewed in house. Need I say more?
Also try: House-made all-beef hot dogs, buttermilk onion loaf, duck frites
8311 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh; 841-4995
In a nutshell: The latest venture by the folks who gave us Frazier's, Coquette and Vivace, Chow is a family-friendly (and noisy) eatery specializing in those all-American favorites, burgers and pizza. House-ground burgers are fat and juicy, with specialty topping combos such as the Flatline (bacon, fried egg, Duke's mayo).
Also try: Pizzas, grilled wings (but steer clear of the onion rings)
510 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh; 834-2955
In a nutshell: If you like the burgers at Tribeca Tavern, you'll love Draft, the company's newest entry on Glenwood South. Burgers are made with the same 10 ounces of local grass-fed beef, grilled to order and available with a bewildering array of topping options.
Also try: House-made guacamole, excellent selection of North Carolina-brewed draft beers
10410-107 Moncreiffe Road, in Brierdale Shopping Center, Raleigh; 544-6789
In a nutshell: Sliders - mini burgers that are all the rage - are the specialty, and they're available in a variety of tempting mix-and-match variations on locally baked bread, from classic Angus beef on a white bun to lamb with Greek style toppings on ciabatta.
Also try: Mandarin crunch salad, sweet potato fries
Geer Street Garden
644 Foster St., Durham; 688-2900
In a nutshell: Burgers are made with local pasture-raised beef, and you can enjoy them indoors (where details of the restored historic gas station have been preserved) or out back, at communal picnic tables.
Also try: "The Pile," which lives up to its name with an enormous heap of fries, bacon, jalapeños, melted cheddar, gravy and two sauces, topped with fried chicken. Just be sure you have your cardiologist on auto dial first.