Dining and travel website The Daily Meal has released a list of the 101 Best Burgers in America, and the Hamburger Fonfon from Birmingham’s Chez Fonfon ranks number 32.
To make the list of the country’s most bodacious burgers, staff at The Daily Meal focused on small establishments and local favorites, compiling notes from internal expertise, review sites including Yelp, reader suggestions, and coverage from local journalists.
Here’s what The Daily Meal had to say about the Hamburger Fonfon:
“Chez Fonfon might be located in Birmingham, Alabama, but the cuisine will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to Paris, France. The highly recommended Hamburger Fonfon is cooked medium and comes with comté — a cheese — and pommes frites.”
While The Daily Meal ranked multiple burgers from some states for this year’s list– the website ranked three burgers from Georgia and Louisiana, as well as four from South Carolina– the Hamburger Fonfon was the only burger from Alabama to make the list.
It was also the only burger from Alabama on its 2017 and 2015 best burgers in America lists. And this past summer, the site ranked the Hamburger FonFon the best burger in Alabama.
While we hope The Daily Meal eventually expands its horizons to make room for other great Alabama burgers on its annual list, its no secret the highly celebrated burger from chef Frank Stitt’s casual French bistro is a guest favorite.
To build the iconic burger, the Chez Fonfon staff starts with grass-fed Heritage Beef whole chuck shoulder from Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem, N.C., which the chefs trim and grind in-house. In June, Frank Stitt and Adam Grusin, the culinary director for the Stitt Restaurant Group, detailed the two-day process to AL.com’s Bob Carlton:
“We cut the meat and let it air dry for a day, and then the next day, we’ll grind it and then form the burgers,” said Grusin. “The freshness of the grind makes a night and day difference in the flavor of the final product.”
Seasoned only with salt and pepper and lightly brushed with olive oil, each burger is cooked to medium or medium-rare over an open-flame grill and topped with melted Comté, a French alpine cheese similar to Swiss Gruyère.
“It’s one of the best, most complex cheeses,” added Stitt. “I’m a huge fan of that Comté with the burger.”
The Hamburger Fonfon is dressed with grilled red onions and a leaf of Romaine lettuce from BDA Farm in Uniontown, along with a house Dijon mayonnaise and bread-and-butter pickles that are also made in-house. The culinary delight is served between two brioche buns crafted by award-winning chef Dolester Miles and Mark Christie.
For now, diners looking to get their hands on the Hamburger Fonfon can enjoy the burger on Chez Fonfon’s recently reopened patio or order the burger for takeout. After temporarily shuttering service at Chez Fonfon in March due to COVID-19 precautions, the restaurant reopened in May to offer curbside service.