Bartley’s Burgers

You can’t visit Harvard Square without trying a burger at Bartley’s. This iconic hamburger place has been grilling up burgers in this same location since 1960. Mr. Bartley himself is 78 years old and still works there sometimes. There is always a line out the door on weekends, and for good reason! After trying so many burgers in Boston, I still consider Bartley’s one of my all-time favorites. Here are the reasons why.
1. The Menu is Irreverently Hilarious
The menu stays very current and lightly but equally makes fun of all. Choose from “The Viagra” (a blue cheese burger),  The “Ted Kennedy” (a plump, liberal amount of burger), or the “Deval Patrick” (will tax your tastebuds – includes japalenos, jack cheese, and salsa). Many of the burgers are named after local politicians, sports stars, or other people that just happen to be in the news at the time. For example, some more recent additions include burgers named after Harvard Professor Skip Gates, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, and US Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
Bartley's mushrooms onions cheeseburger
(even Simon would love this) topped w/ bacon cheese, grilled mushrooms & onions, w/ fries) $9.99

2. The Burgers Are Freakin’ Amazing
Let’s start with the meat. I think a 7 oz burger is the perfect size. It’s just big enough that it’s filling yet not so monstrous that  I can’t finish the entire thing. It’s also super thick (East Coast style), which means the outside can be beautifully crispy while the inside stays juicy and moist. I also love the taste of the beef. I have no idea what grade or type of beef they use, but it has a fantastic beefy flavor that I just love.

with boursin cheese, bacon, and french fries $9.49
3. A Huge Variety of Fun “Toppings”
The burgers change frequently, although many of the classics also stick around. They use many sorts of unusual ingredients, such as boursin cheese (pictured above in the Yuppie Burger), guacamole (see Tom Brady burger below), jalapenos, sauerkraut, and pineapples – not to mention most regular ingredients such as other cheeses, grilled onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce, and on and on and on.
You can customize your burgers too, and the staff is quite skilled at picking the closest “preset” burger that you need to modify.
4. Delicious Sides
You have to try their sweet potato fries. They are absolutely amazing. They come out hot, crispy, yet still moist on the inside, lightly dusted with a sprinkle of salt. I found them quite addictive, probably because of that perfect combination of sweet + salty. Their onion rings are also really really good. Bryan loves onion rings and always orders that as his side.
5. The Lime Rickeys and Shakes
I usually hate drinks that are too sweet, but I found this lime rickey to be perfect. It’s basically soda water, fresh squeezed limes, simple syrup, and ice. Absolutely refreshing! They are also known for their frappes (milkshakes for those of you who don’t understand Bostonian English), although I have never tried one.

Bartley's guacamole burger (Tom Brady)
(Ladies, make a pass at this) w/ cheddar, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, red onions, and fries $9.95
6. The Vibe
The decor of the place is super unique, and it really looks like it has not changed a bit since it opened in 1960. The walls are adorned with all sorts of fun knick knacks, like random road signs, funny posters, and even a random bust of Elvis. It looks like a crazy college dorm room on steroids! The tables are cramped closely together, and you can see the cooks making the hamburgers right there.
Bartley's Burgers Cooks

(Hair Club For Men Member & VP) Bacon cheese & BBQ sauce, w/ french fries $9.50

Really, this is just a fun place to go. Yes, it’s touristy (it calls itself a Harvard landmark, after all), and yes there are long lines out the door. But it’s so worth it! It’s such a fun, festive place and the burgers are really, really good.

Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage
1246 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage on Urbanspoon

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  1. says

    Congrats on the mention!

    Now and then I make it to Bartley’s (one time I showed up close to 9pm and still had to wait a while!). I’m a sucker for the shakes

  2. AMK says

    I just went here yesterday for the first time. Wow. I was afraid it was a tourist trap that didn’t deliver, but it was amazing. I enjoyed the Tom Brady, and it was cooked to perfection. Great place.

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