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The best burger in the country can be found, and devoured, in Chapel Hill, NC

Husband and wife Al and Mel Bowers opened Al’s Burger Shack in Chapel Hill in 2013, and it’s grown into a Franklin Street destination, serving burgers griddled in the roadside tradition, crispy crinkle cut fries and milkshakes made from Maple View ice cream.
Husband and wife Al and Mel Bowers opened Al’s Burger Shack in Chapel Hill in 2013, and it’s grown into a Franklin Street destination, serving burgers griddled in the roadside tradition, crispy crinkle cut fries and milkshakes made from Maple View ice cream. Courtesy of Al’s Burger Shack

Of all the many burgers in this burger-loving nation, the best is in Chapel Hill.

That’s according to travel review site TripAdvisor, which said Al’s Burger Shack on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill serves the best burger in America. The list appears on Food and Wine’s website.

TripAdvisor crunched the numbers on burger reviews across the country, and Al’s Burger Shack topped this list, with 272 reviews averaging 4.5 stars.

TripAdvisor singled out Al’s Bobo Chili Cheeseburger as the nation’s best, a loving ode to the Carolina Burger and inspired by Melvin’s in Elizabethtown. The Bobo is a burger topped with chili, slaw, yellow mustard and American cheese.

The Bobo burger beat out contenders in Florida, San Franciso, Nashville and Wyoming, including a burger between two doughnuts, one topped with queso and another topped with a half-pound hot dog.

“I’m just blown away,” owner Al Bowers said of the news. “You just try and stay humble and have the same hunger and drive.”

The hunger should be easy for Bowers. He calls burgers his favorite food, a lifelong love and the first meal he remembers eating as a kid. He still talks fondly of his first job working at McDonald’s.

Al’s opened his ideal burger joint on Franklin Street in 2013, offering a modern take on the American icon roadside burger. The patties are thin and griddled, the fries crinkle-cut and seasoned with rosemary and sea salt. Last year, he opened a second location in Chapel Hill’s Southern Village, with a third pub-style location planned near Jordan Lake.

When he got the best burger news Wednesday, Bowers had just worked a kitchen shift at the Southern Village Al’s. He said he was floored by the news, but confident in the burgers Al’s puts out in the world.

“The reputation around the state and community is pretty dang good,” Bowers said.

News & Observer restaurant critic Greg Cox named Al’s Burger Shack his best burger earlier in 2018.

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North Carolina’s burger offering have popped up on TripAdvisor’s radar before. In 2015, Greensboro’s Hops Burger Bar was named the best joint in the country.

Al’s could have a bit of competition in that case. A Hops Burger Bar opened less than a half-mile down the street this spring.

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