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Jess Pryles

Which type of burger are you?

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There are two fundamental varieties of burgers, and knowing which you prefer is critical to getting the right burger recommendation.

Not all burgers are created equal. Sure, there are the usual variables of bacon, blue cheese, ranch, stuffed patty and so forth, but on a more basic level, burgers can be split into two core species.

So different is the eating experience of the two, there is little point suggesting burgers to people without correctly identifying the genus from which the burger in question stems. The lack of proper preference identification is the core reason why it can be so exceedingly difficult for people to agree on the “best burger in town”. Kinda like asking someone where the best ribs in town are – are you talking beef or pork?

When you ask me for a burger recommendation, it’s a basic responsibility for me to at least qualify you to one of the two types (yeah, I take this seriously!).

So, let’s take a look at the main differences:

The Short Stack

thin fast food burger
Clockwise from top left: Sandy’s, Crown & Anchor, Fran’s, Top Notch.


Thin, usually griddle cooked. When cooked correctly, the rendered fat should form a crisp crust on the meat. The intensity of this crust gives a big hit of salty, umami goodness without needing hulking slab of mince.


Characteristically flat, dense, delightfully soft and malleable. The Short Stack bun usually has a subtle sweetness and is never crusty. It is best identified via the thumbprint test – stick your thumb in the top, and it should leave a clear depression that doesn’t fluff back up. Science! The pliability of the bun also assists in keeping all the fillings in – you can squoosh it down and hold everything in place.


Almost always shredded iceberg lettuce. Short Stack fillings need to be fairly delicate to retain the burger’s squat profile.


Seen by many as more of a ‘snack’ burger due to it’s size, the glory of this baby shouldn’t be underestimated. Thin, even layers mean a far more balanced taste experience and the compact size means it’s easy to wrangle.

The High Tower

chunky restaurant burgers
Clockwise from top left: Bacon, Red’s Porch, Hopdoddy, The Goodnight.


The meat is the moneyshot of the High Tower. The thicker and chunkier, the better. Patties are typically char grilled and served medium rare in the middle (and obtaining a dark charred crust while retaining a pink centre is not the easiest feat to accomplish).


Typically will present as a perfect dome and is often served toasted or lightly marked on the grill. These buns have an outer crust and a soft and fluffy interior which is slightly porous and highly efficient at absorbing the juices released from the patty.


Go to town, pile ’em high. Whacky additions like onion rings and stuffed patties can add to the height. Lettuce is often kept in whole leaf form to ensure it doesn’t fall out the sides, which are usually exposed.


This is your standard restaurant burger – the one where the patty weight is proudly displayed on the menu. This is the burger that has your waistband groaning from the sudden ingestion of 3/4 pound of meat and a host of assorted carbs. Juices will be plentiful and eventually compromise the structural integrity of the burger, so eat fast before it turns to mush. Takes a better looking picture, for sure.

The Final Verdict

There’s no one inhuman enough to not at least enjoy any type of burger (tofu burgers notwithstanding), but I am firmly in Short Stack camp. Sll of my top 5 favourtite burgers are Short Stacks (including Sandy’s, Five Guys, Whataburger, etc). This is the burger I crave, this is the fun, cool, retro diner burger of my dreams.

What about you, team High Tower or team Short Stack?


By Jess Pryles

Jess Pryles is a full fledged Hardcore Carnivore. She’s a cook, writer, and TV personality specializing in red meat, with penchant for grilling and bourbon. She's also a respected authority on Texas & competition style barbecue. Born in Australia, she now resides in Austin, Texas.

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