Burgers are trending in Tallinn and almost every restaurant has at least one on the menu, but where to go when you’re hit with a serious craving? Having only one burger on the menu isn’t good enough for this list – at least three are required for variety’s sake. These are the five places locals flock to when they’re hit with an overpowering need for a burger. We’ve listed them in no particular order to avoid the fights that might break out if any kind of ranking were offered. None of these places can be found in the Old Town; for a good burger you need to venture further afield.
Photo credit: Diner
Credit for burger mania should go to the States, and Diner attempts to not only do awesome burgers, but also to bring a little bit of the USA to Tallinn. This is achieved by offering free coffee refills, which blows the minds of locals. No one comes here for the coffee though, but instead for burgers that are truly out of this world. What will it be today? The Hangover? The Betty Blue with blue cheese oozing out? The Vegan? The Heart Attack? Or maybe the daily special, which is always a complete surprise (you put WHAT in there?!) Diner is located right on the edge of the Nõmme district – a cute area with private houses, big gardens, pine trees and fat dogs.
Photo credit: Estonian Burger Factory
If a place has a name as ambitious as Estonian Burger Factory, then expectations are high. Luckily, these expectations are met with great burgers. The menu is so long that it covers half the wall, ranging from a classic cheeseburger to an Estonian special with black bread. And don’t forget the cheese balls! This place might look small from the outside, but it’s bigger than you’d expect. It’s located in the heart of the city centre next to the Kosmos cinema. When in doubt about what to do with themselves, locals head here for a burger and a movie (whatever is screening because who really cares on a full stomach – you can’t move yourself further anyways).
3. Vesivärava Grill
Photo credit: Vesivärava Grill
The guys who run this place like to have fun and joke with their customers while they work. In typical Estonian fashion, the jokes are often so bad they’re good. Vesivärav is actually a bakery that has a burger joint attached to it. The grill is outside during summer, so you can see your burger sizzling while you wait and chat with the cook. There’s a long list of burgers to choose from, and so far every single one of them has been amazing. Located on the edge of the beautiful Kadriorg area and on the foot of the soviet-era Lasnamäe district, it’s a fitting stopover as you move from one to the other.
Photo credit: Burger Box
This is the hipster burger place. Here, they don’t really care what you think of them or if you like the service – the only thing that matters is the food. There are only three burger options – the Cheeseburger, the Pulled Pork Burger and the Falafel Burger, but they’re all good. Being located super close to the Old Town and the cool Kalamaja area, Burger box draws in every hipster and local like a magnet. There’s very little space for seating, but who cares? Order your burger to go and walk around the Russian Market or get lost among Kalamaja’s wooden houses on your way to the seaside.
5. Rotiburks: the Rat Burger
Photo credit: Liine Toomse
There’s no one place to go for a Rat Burger – there are many establishments that prepare this unique dish. A Rat Burger is what locals call any burger that’s consumed while stumbling home after a night of drinking (Estonia’s answer to London’s kebabs). The first mention of this burger dates back to the early 1990s. It’s not a burger anyone would eat when sober because sober minds ask all sorts of questions like “what meat is this?” or “why is it filled with so much coleslaw that I can’t taste anything?” To our everlasting shame, everyone has eaten one of these at least once (but probably more than once and that makes matters even worse). There are many places where burgers like this can be found, usually right outside the Old Town near Freedom Square, somewhere between the last bar and home. To identify a Rat Burger place, you need to go out at night and find an all-night kiosk with a queue of tired-looking locals. Warning: this might be a sad night.
Opening photo credit: Liine Toomse