July just feels like the appropriate month to celebrate burgers, right? It’s the time for backyard barbecues, 4th of July fireworks, beers, popsicles, flamingo floaties, soaking in the sunshine, and of course, flipping a few burgers.

To that end, we bring you the 2021 Burger Bucket List! In compiling this list of 50 Polk County burger options, I have exhausted my cheeseburger lexicon. When I close my eyes, all I see are the words ‘JUICY,’ ‘AMERICANA,’ ‘DRIVE-IN,’ ‘CLASSIC,’ and ‘GRILLED TO PERFECTION’ flash over and over in all caps – all while spats of ketchup and mayo and mustard converge into pop art cheeseburger scenes from Pulp Fiction, Good Burger, and SpongeBob. But, for you, my burger babes, I do it with love. 

Though you’ll find a mighty spread ranging from old-fashioned to unconventional, this is by no means every burger our county has to offer. We decided to focus on supporting local restaurants, opting to leave out chains and food trucks, and rounded it out to an even 50. 

I can’t speak for every burger here (I’m working on it… 50 burgers is a lot, okay?). So, we’ve singled out some staff picks that we at Haven forever drool over. I give you my Tara Guarantee that these will be good, my “Tarantee” if you will. Tell them Haven sent you (with a wink – you have to wink when you say it). 

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #kindachill when you post your burger selfie, and you might end up in the next issue of Haven! Please eat responsibly.

adler’s burgers – staff pick

Are you ready for a life-changing cheeseburger mouth party freak out extravaganza? Doing things their way with a classic smash burger at the base of their biz, Adler’s is ‘Takin’ care of burgers, every day.’ They started with a food truck (now parked at The Poor Porker in Lakeland) which turned into their flagship Davenport location. Now, on to burger and better things, Adler’s is preparing to open a second storefront in Winter Haven. Artisan baked buns hug a quality, Midwest, high-fat content ground beef smash patty. Accompanying their classic burger on the menu, are campy-named burgers like the Bad Hombre with grilled whiskey onions, jalapeños, and cheddar, or the Twitty with caramelized pineapple, bacon, American cheese, and mayo. Do yourself a favor and follow their social media to see what their weekly special burger is. I’ll tempt you with a few of their most recent specials like the Jalapeno Business with jalapeno firecracker, jalapeno cilantro lime ranch, pineapple jam, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Or the aptly named The Cheech, a burger topped with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Doritos fried cheese curds. Pair yours with hand-cut fries or my favorite – jalapeno firecrackers.  

113 Ambersweet Way, Davenport | (863) 438-4324
Winter Haven location coming soon | Food truck at The Poor Porker | FB @Adlers.TCB | IG @adlerstcb



lego city burger kitchen

Looking for some flame-broiled fare for your next family trip to LEGOLAND? Check out what Sparky and the LEGO City First Responders are up to at the LEGO City Burger Kitchen! Their revamped menu includes the likes of a Crispy Cracklin’ Bacon BBQ Cheeseburger with fried onion straws, cheddar cheese, banana peppers, BBQ sauce, and bacon as well as the Fire Chief’s Chicken Sandwich made with breaded chicken, drizzled with citrus and herb-infused mayo and all the chicken sammie accouterments. For a more traditional bite, try the Dispatch Classic Cheeseburger – a flame-grilled burger with all the toppings and LEGOLAND’S special burger sauce.

1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven | (888) 690-5346
FB @LEGOLANDFlorida | IG @legolandflorida



good thyme

It might not have a permanent place on their menu, but I assure you the Good Thyme burger is, well… a good time. A smash burger with arugula, homemade pickles, smoked gouda, and bacon jam – Oh. My. Good Thyme. Burger. Get it when they’ve got it, and until then, we’ll be here begging them to give it a home on their daily lunch menu. Good Thyme has a full menu of fresh, fast eats for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. A few of our non-burger favorites are the fried chicken biscuit, poke bowl, meatloaf sammich, and the Good Thyme Nashville hot fried chicken with sweet-heat pickles and mayo on a brioche bun.

1037 Dixieland Mall Ln, Lakeland | (863) 603-8296 | FB @GoodThymeLKLD | IG @goodthymelkld



terrace grille

Treat yourself to a long lunch at the Terrace Grille or slide up to the bar for a small plate. Located in the historic Terrace Hotel, this high-end dining destination is now open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour, and Sunday brunch with a new Chef, menus, and a renovated dining space. If you’re on the hunt for an upscale cheeseburger, look no further than their lunch menu featuring an Open Face Patty Melt made with a Painted Hills beef patty, roasted shallot, wild mushrooms, house sauce, gruyere cheese, and a sunny side up egg on rye bread. The 1924 Burger is a bite for the history books – a half-pound of ground beef, gruyere cheese, thick-sliced bacon, house sauce, bibb lettuce, heirloom tomato, and pickled fried onion assembled on a toasted brioche bun. Though not technically a burger, I’ll let it slide for the Wagyu Beef Slider with roasted shallot and mushrooms, gruyere cheese, and house sauce on a toasted brioche with a sunny side quail egg, available on the Bar Small Plate menu.

329 East Main St., Lakeland | 863-603-5420 | FB @terracegrillelakeland



the twisted prop bar & grille

A Winter Haven waterfront establishment, The Twisted Prop is praised for its pub fare and good-time atmosphere. So park your boat, and grab a beer and a burger or wings off their bar food menu. Their burger offerings are simple, no-fuss – a single or double burger or cheeseburger. Choose your toppings from lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, jalapeno, and banana peppers and six different kinds of cheese – American, swiss, cheddar, provolone, pepper jack, and ghost pepper.

615 7th St SW, Winter Haven | (863) 293-1937 | FB: The Twisted Prop Bar & Grille



red door lakeland

Red Door staff and management pride themselves in craft and integrity. From house-made ingredients to a seasonally changing menu, it’s safe to expect an exceptional experience from this upscale, cozy spot. The Door Steak Burger is made with a short rib blend and finished with heirloom tomatoes, fresh burrata cheese, basil aioli, and parmesan truffle fries. Wash that down with something off their cocktail menu like a Parkesdale Gimlet with Benham gin, muddled mint and cucumber, lime juice, and simple syrup.

733 E Palmetto St, Lakeland | (863) 937-9314 | FB @RedDoorLakeland | IG @reddoorlkldthe



purple onion deli & grill

This downtown Lakeland deli and grill boasts specialty sandwiches, chicken specialties, pita wraps, apps, homemade soups, salads, and handmade burger baskets. The Purple Onion has a selection of 8oz. burgers and cheeseburgers, including a bacon cheeseburger, a patty melt with swiss cheese and grilled onions on marbled rye, and even a veggie burger. Their Greek Bacon Burger is a Mediterranean twist on the Americana classic with feta cheese, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and greek dressing. Each burger is served with toppings of choice, fries or tater tots and slaw. Even the youngest burger enthusiasts can enjoy a bite at The Purple Onion with the kid’s menu sliders!

316 N Kentucky Ave, Lakeland | (863) 688-5590 | FB @PurpleOnionDeliGrill



tanners lakeside restaurant & bar

Tanners is known for stunning lake views, good drinks, and good times. Embracing the lakeside locale, Tanners lined their menu with plenty of seafood options and Central Florida faves like smoked fish dip, gator bites, grouper sandwich, muscles, clams, and crab legs. However, the cheeseburger options aren’t lacking either. Mushroom and swiss burger – check! Blue cheese and bacon burger – check! Their self-titled Tanners Burger is a half-pound black Angus beef monster topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a brioche bun and served with fries. Add American, cheddar jack, swiss, or provolone if you’re more of a cheeseburger chap or apple smoked bacon for that extra something something. If you are looking to add a notch on your foodie belt, consider a Firecracker Shrimp Burger. This flavor firecracker consists of a half-pound black Angus beef patty garnished with Tanners bang bang shrimp on a brioche bun.

1006 Lake Howard Dr SW, Winter Haven | (863) 662-5948 | FB @TannersLakeside


burger bunker – staff pick


It’s hard to miss this red, white, and blue no-nonsense burger base. Burger Bunker is drive-thru only and offers fresh, never frozen 100% beef for their small (1 patty) and large (2 patties) burgers and cheeseburgers. These babies come with mayo, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and raw or grilled onions. It’s the kind of burger that tastes like it was freshly flipped from the grill at a backyard barbecue in July by a guy wearing a ‘Hi Hungry, I’m Dad’ apron – it’s just a very wholesome cheeseburger. Add egg to give it a breakfast vibe or jalapeno if you like it hot. Word on the street is their crispy chicken sandwiches are pretty good, too, and you can get them two for $4 on Tuesdays.

1360 US-92, Auburndale
FB: Burger Bunker - Auburndale


gaskins barbecue & lobster – staff pick

Smokehouse flavors right off Cypress Gardens Boulevard! Gaskins may have been voted #1 for Haven’s Best Of Barbecue, but their burgers are pretty bangin’ too. They’ve got the basics covered with the Smokehouse Burger and Cheeseburger served with LTOP. The real MVP is the First Responder Burger – it’s smoky and sweet and kinda sexy – you know, like a firefighter (I can only assume that’s where the name came from). This burger is topped with cheese, Gaskin’s Best Of Haven-winning pulled pork, lettuce, onion, pickle, and sweet sauce. That covers the ‘Barbecue’ part of their name, but where’s the ‘Lobsta?!’ I’ll tell you where – it’s busy defying burger genres on their Surf & Turf cheeseburger served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle, topped with warm lobster and chipotle aioli.

600 Cypress Gardens Blvd, Winter Haven | (863) 656-1605 | FB @Gaskinsbarbecue | IG @gaskinsbarbecue




The next stop on the burger bus is Fire in the heart of Downtown Winter Haven. Fire’s lunch burgers are cooked to perfection, just how you like it, and served with hand-cut fries. They cover the bases with a mushroom and swiss, a classic, and a Philly cheesesteak burger, with some wild cards thrown into the mix like the Mexical Burger with pico de gallo, cheddar, avocado, lettuce, and sriracha mayo. The Fire Burger has classic flavors with a dijon kick, topped with melty white American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and herb dijon spread. Fire gets decadent during dinner with a Wild Mushroom Fontina Burger – mushroom, fontina, sauce bordelaise, leaf lettuce, and tomato. It’s best paired with a Fire cocktail under the twinkling patio lights.

325 W Central Ave, Winter Haven | (863) 875-5544 | FB @thefirerestaurant | IG



frescos southern kitchen & bar

A downtown Lakeland pub serving upscale Southern fare, Frescos is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Guests rave about the atmosphere and service – oh, and the burger! Their signature, an initial-titled burger, is the FSKB Burger, an 8oz house-blend steak burger with pimento cheese, bacon, garlic mayo, and green tomato relish. I’m not drooling – you’re drooling! It would only make the most logical sense to toss that back with an FSKB Porch Tea mixed with house-made limoncello, unsweet tea, raspberry, strawberry, cassis & violet liqueurs. Never fear, vegan friends! Frescos offers a Vegan Impossible Burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, green tomato relish, and avocado. Both burgers have a gluten-free option.

132 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland | (863) 683-5267 | FB @frescoslakeland | IG @frescoslakeland



lake wales family restaurant

Lake Wales Family Restaurant is a staple on the Ridge. Their motto is “Where friends are family,” and their patron family rave about the quality of food and service. They serve up classic breakfast and lunch diner fare like omelets and egg sammies to country fried steak and French dips. This little Lake Wales eatery has quite substantial burger offerings. They’ve got your classics like a bacon cheeseburger, mushroom and swiss, avocado bacon, and patty melts, along with a few elevated options. The Texas Burger, for instance, is topped with American cheese, crispy bacon, BBQ sauce & onion ring. The Frisco is served on grilled rye bread with bacon and swiss cheese. Carb-conscious compadres will enjoy The Naked Burger, a juicy beef patty in the buff, served with a tossed salad.

109 FL-60 West, Lake Wales | (863) 676-8799 | FB @LwFamilyRest | IG @lwfamilyrest



crazy fish

Known for fresh seafood and a fun atmosphere, Crazy Fish is a Polk County must-try. We aren’t here for the seafood today, though. You know the burger is bomb when some guests opt for it over grouper at a restaurant with ‘fish’ in the name. This Lake Wales hangout offers three burger options, a hamburger, a cheeseburger, and the big kahuna, Matt’s Blackjack Burger. Handmade with a half-pound of ground beef, their hamburger is topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles. Their crazy good cheeseburger is the same with American, cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheese added. Swimming to the top of their burger boastings is Matt’s Blackjack Burger – blackened, served with Monterey Jack cheese, Cajun mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle. (Add bacon if you want to get crazy.)

802 Henry St, Lake Wales | (863) 949-6907 | FB @CrazyFishLakeWalesFL



the brunch box

“Food is fantastic. If you are looking for an old-fashioned home-cooked meal, this is your place,” reviewed one Brunch Box customer. A casual breakfast/ lunch go-to, The Brunch Box has a selection of burgers to choose from. Their 6 oz burgers are homemade and hand-pressed, cooked to order, and available with American, cheddar, or provolone cheese. You can upgrade to a 9 oz patty for an upcharge. The Brunch Box fan fave is their Patty Melt topped with grilled onions and cheese on grilled rye. This home-cooking hotspot also has a cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, pepper jack burger, mushroom and swiss, and a Texas melt with BBQ sauce, bacon, and grilled onions on grilled toast.

735 E Memorial Blvd, Lakeland | (863) 686-9786
FB @LakelandBrunchBox



the chop shop

The Chop Shop is a must-stop on your ultimate burger bucket list. This downtown Lakeland pub food paradise was voted Best Burger in 2020 Best of LKLD. Home to the world-famous “Burgers that Rock!” The Chop Shop has a bit of everything on their burger menu, including kitschy names and big flavors. The Hawgzilla, for one, is a double hawg monster cheeseburger, and the Blue Suede comes topped with blue cheese and beer-battered onion rings. If that doesn’t rev you up, they also offer a Mac and Cheeseburger, B.A.D. (Breakfast All Day) Burger, a Bunny Burger for their vegetarian patrons, and a variety of other juicy flavor combos. A Chop Shop standout is the Von Dutch – a burger topped with gouda cheese, sliced apple, o-rings, and smokey sauce, oh my! (Oh, and you can add bacon to that.) Enjoy your bites with some booze from their selection of craft beers on tap and in the bottle, wine, and full bar.

118 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland | (863) 603-4040 | FB @chopshopburgers



andy’s igloo

You want fries with that shake? How about a 1/3 pound of thick and juicy USDA Choice beef hamburger? Andy’s iconic sign is an invitation to step back in time to an old-school Americana diner. Known for reasonable prices and delish hand-dipped sundaes, soft serve, and milkshakes, Andy’s also boasts a Haven Best Of-winning burger. Their burgers are made with lean Western beef, fresh, never frozen, cooked to perfection, and dressed how you like. Andy’s offers a hamburger, super burger, and half-pound burger. The star of the show is Andy’s signature Steakette – 1/3 pound of char-broiled beef. Make it a burger basket and get crinkle-cut fries and coleslaw or substitute for onion rings, fried mushrooms, corn nuggets, or sweet potato fries.

703 3rd St SW, Winter Haven | (863) 293-0019 | FB: Andy’s Igloo



back alley grill

Tucked away in the alleyway behind Jensen’s is a top-secret burger window that I’ll tell you about, but you can’t tell anyone. Just kidding, you can tell. But it is a miniature burger joint to add to your list. Grab a drink from Jessie’s or Jensen’s while you’re at it. Tuesday through Saturday 5 pm to 12 am, chow down on pub food faves like cheese curds, nachos, mac and cheese bites, wings (traditional, boneless, and meatless), and the like. Back Alley has your typical burger offerings like their classic Back Alley Burger, Bacon & Blues, and Veggie Burger. Based on the name alone, I’m drawn to Jim n Judy’s Big Ass Burger...because I have a big ass appetite. This baby boasts two patties, white American and cheddar cheese, bacon, ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle. Make it a basket with a side of fries.

Located in the alley behind Jessie’s & Jensen’s in Winter Haven.



city star family restaurant

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, City Star Family Restaurant is “the restaurant people are talking about!” So let’s talk about their burgers! City Star burgers are made with a half-pound of Angus beef and topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion and served with french fries. Their Signature Hamburger is an homage to a classic car hop burger, nothing but Angus beef topped with lettuce, tomato, and red onion. If you like your hammies a little hotter, opt for the Mexican Burger, complete with bleu cheese crumbs, jalapeños, hot sauce, lettuce, tomato, and red onions. Try a taste of the bacon cheddar, BBQ bacon, mushroom cheeseburger, and patty melt too. For those with a bigger appetite, they’ve got a Hungry Man One Pound Cheeseburger.

740 FL-60, Lake Wales | (863) 949-6494
FB @CityStarFamilyRestaurantLW




A continual winner for Waterfront Dining in Best Of Haven, Harborside overlooks the lapping waves of Lake Shipp. Folks pull up by boat or car to enjoy cocktails, fresh seafood, steaks, and casual American cuisine with unmatched Chain of Lakes views. A burger in one hand, a cocktail in the other, and a lake sunset before you – can you think of anything better? Harborside has a Build Your Own Steak Burger served with house fries, homemade slaw, or veggies (upgrade to sweet potato waffle fries, onion rings, or a Harborside Salad). Their burgers are 8 oz. of ground chuck assembled with your choice of topping (lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle) on a brioche bun. Add swiss, American, or cheddar cheese or make waves by topping it off with smoked bacon, caramelized onions, or sauteed mushrooms.

2435 7th St SW, Winter Haven | (863) 293-7070 | FB @HarborsideFL | IG @harborsiderestaurant



big tom’s diner

Half pound, cooked over an open flame and served with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles, this Havendale hamburger haven has you covered from the usual burger and cheeseburger suspects to bacon cheeseburgers, mushroom and swiss, bacon cheddar jalapeno, and more. A list of specialty burgers line their menu as well. Like the Texan Burger with BBQ sauce, onion rings, and American cheese, the Chili Cheese Burger with homemade chili and cheddar cheese, the Greek Burger with house-made tzatziki sauce and feta cheese, The Brunch topped with a fried egg, bacon, and American cheese, and the Redneck Burger piled with slow-cooked pulled pork, BBQ sauce, and American cheese. Make it a double – a full pound – with two of their half-pound patties. If you’re feeling brave, throw your hat in for Big Tom’s 2 Pound Burger Challenge. If you can eat 2 pounds of cheeseburger and french fries within 30 minutes, you get a free t-shirt and your picture on the Wall of Champions.

1151 Havendale Blvd NW, Winter Haven | (863) 875-5557
FB @BigTomsDiner1 | IG @big_toms_diner



cob & pen

Cob & Pen – coming through with the decadent Country Club Burger. This bourgeoisie bad boy is on the main menu seven days a week, and you can get it for brunch too. This sammie is artfully assembled with lettuce, tomato, house pickles, and C&P sauce on a corn-dusted kaiser roll with fries. Add cheese, fried egg, or bacon for an upcharge. If you decide to brunch with burgers, opt for a C&P cocktail to match the occasion, like the BYO Bloody Mary, where you can ‘build your own’ from a selection of mixers and garnishes. Or how about a “My”Mosa, another BYO cocktail in which you can choose from a selection of juices and macerated fruits? P.S. On an un-burger-related note, Cob & Pen has an Ultimate Grilled Cheese with swiss, cheddar, fontina, and onion jam on thick-sliced brioche with tomato basil soup – just thought I’d let you know.

1221 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 937-8126 | FB @cobandpenlkld | IG @cob_and_pen



manny’s original chophouse

Manny’s Original Chophouse is a Polk County steakhouse staple. Though they’re known widely for their steaks, chops, and ribs, their burger menu is worth a gander. Manny’s burgers are served on King’s Hawaiian buns, loaded up with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle with a choice of potato. They’ve got the classics covered with half-pound burgers, including the Big Steakburger, Big Cheeseburger, Bacon Big Cheeseburger, and a Swiss and Mushroom Steakburger topped with fresh mushrooms and double swiss cheese.

1100 3rd St SW, Winter Haven | (863) 293-0069
FB @mannyswinterhaven |IG @mannyschophouse



downtown diner

Many patrons posit that Downtown Diner has the best breakfast in town, friendly service, and tasty, simple eats. Sitting simply on their menu, taking little space from the soups, salad and sandwiches are Downtown Diner’s burgers. A family-style diner serving Americana comfort food, Downtown Diner offers no-frills burgers, cheeseburgers, and bacon cheeseburgers served with fries. Be on the lookout for burger specials!

126 W Main St, Lakeland | (863) 583-4300
FB: Downtown Diner



dundee diner

The friendly service and cozy atmosphere at the Dundee Diner keep patrons returning for more classic casual diner fare. Served with French fries or onion rings and coleslaw, Dundee Diner steps up to the plate with a hamburger, cheeseburger, and turkey burger, all topped with mayo, lettuce, onion, tomato, and pickles. The Hickory burger brings the smokey, bacon-y goodness with BBQ sauce, bacon, and American cheese. The Diner flexes a Frisco burger served on grilled marbled rye bread with bacon and swiss cheese as well as a patty melt smothered with sauteed onions and swiss cheese over grilled marbled rye. For those with gluten sensitivity or otherwise watching their carbs is the Naked Burger – their juicy Dundee Diner burger served with a tossed salad.

28087 US-27, Dundee | (863) 547-6916
FB @DundeedinerFl



slate 8 billiards

A few games of pool, a couple of drinks – sounds like a good time, right? Slate 8 Billiards, formally Family Billiards for the last 30 years, is the pool hall of record in Winter Haven. On the menu is an assortment of bar food bites, including fried pickles, loaded nachos, and their famous fried bologna sandwich. A solid spot for a quick casual pick-me-up, Slate 8 landed this list with their classic cheeseburger – two patties, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mayo, ketchup, and mustard, served with fries.

20 4th St SW, Winter Haven | (863) 247-8899 | FB @slate8pool



s&l restaurant

A bit of a hidden gem, S&L is a quaint burger shack painted white with red trim. A burger mural is painted on the building touting the best burgers in town (since 1983), followed by, “Warning… our burgers may become habit-forming.” The interior is a kitschy composition of license plates, advertisements, Coca-Cola memorabilia, and cheeky signage every way you look. S&L regulars can’t stop talking about their habit-forming burgers served on red and white checkered paper. S&L burgers are unfussy and classic – a hamburger, cheeseburger, and bacon cheeseburger – all served with mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle. Make it a special with fries and add a Coke for an all-American meal.

2915 S Combee Rd, Lakeland | (863) 665-0731
FB: S & L Restaurant



john’s drive-in

This Fort Meade-famous drive-in beckons patrons with their family atmosphere and simple fare. Guests can opt for curbside service or pile into a booth for John’s famous subs, sandwiches, chicken buckets, and yes, of course, burgers. John’s grills up the usual suspects of single and double hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and bacon cheeseburgers. If you’re going into Ft. Meade Miner country (the high school’s team mascot), you should get a half-pound burger by the same name. Other offerings include a Greek, Italian, mushroom and swiss, and cowboy burger.

17 N Charleston Ave, Fort Meade | (863) 285-9680
FB: John’s Drive-In



apple lounge & grill

Often referred to as the “Cheers” of Winter Haven, this good-time bar and pub vaunts scores of regular customers that vouch for its atmosphere and affordable drinks and food. Some of Apple’s bar food best-sellers are wings (Mango Wango wings come highly recommended) and, you guessed it, burgers. The cooked-to-order half-pound burger and cheeseburger come with chips that can be subbed for fries.

2803 Recker Hwy, Winter Haven | (863) 291-0340 | FB @appleloungewinterhaven




The height of fine dining in Lakeland, Nineteen61 was opened in 2015 by Chef Marcos Fernandez. This downtown dining destination was voted #1 Fine Dining, Wine Menu, and Romantic Restaurant in the 2020 Best of LKLD. Coming to you straight off the wood-fired grill is the CEM Burger, a half-pound choice Angus chuck and short rib patty with chef’s smoked cheddar and roasted jalapeño pimento cheese on a potato bun, served with house fries. This bold burger is available at lunch and dinner. Pair it with a signature cocktail from Bar61 or a glass or bottle from their extensive wine list.

215 E Main St, Lakeland | (863) 688-1961 | FB @nineteen61 | IG nineteen61_



homecourt by tracy mcgrady

How about tipping off with a ‘half-time handheld’? At HomeCourt, it is their mission to create memories for their guests and bring together friends and family. Their burger selection is the real MVP of this casual lunch spot. Standouts of their burger offerings include the Magic Mushroom made with house-seasoned USDA Black Angus Beef, topped with caramelized mushrooms and onions, fried egg, spicy mayo, and a side of seasoned fries. Also, the T-Mac’s PB&J Burger, loaded with creamy peanut butter, caramelized red onion marmalade, and thick-cut bacon. A Green Thumb burger graces the menu for plant-based patrons – a Beyond Burger topped with your choice of cheese, shredded lettuce, red onion, tomato, and avocado-cilantro mayo on a brioche bun, and served with a fresh cucumber salad on the side. We hope all your wildest burger ‘swishes’ come true at HomeCourt.

3615 Florida Ave S #1350, Lakeland | (863) 603-3305 
FB @EatAtHomeCourt | IG @eatathomecourt



the back nine

Where can you golf, eat, and drink? The Back Nine, of course. A burger on the menu is par for the course at many area eateries, but The Back Nine aced it with theirs. To miss it would be a real duff. Touted as “a premier golf eatertainment experience,” The Back Nine has simulators to play and plenty of fairway fare to feast on. Served with a side of Par3 fries, mac+cheese, fresh steamed broccoli, or grilled zucchini, The Back Nine offers two burgers. The Mushroom Swiss Burger consists of a handmade quarter-pound patty with swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onion, and a healthy spread of smoky mustard over a brioche bun. One over par of that is The “Bogey” Burger. This gourmet golf grub comes dressed with a choice of cheese, bacon jam, lettuce, tomato, onion, and bbq mayo on a toasted brioche bun. Make it a “Double Bogey” if you’re extra hungry.

7331 US Hwy 98 N, Lakeland | (863) 603-3700
FB @thebackninelakeland | IG @thebackninelakeland



the red top pit stop

Whether you’ve got a hankering for homestyle breakfast or something smokey and savory for lunch, The Red Top Pit Stop has you covered. This good old-fashioned greasy spoon is nothing fancy – but that’s the beauty. Their menu is bursting at the seams with 14 variations to choose from of their half-pound steak burgers. One such ooey-gooey flavor explosion is the Green Swamper, stuffed with jalapenos and smothered with cheddar cheese. Their namesake burger, The Red Top, is topped off with homemade chili and cheddar cheese. If you’re looking for a good time, might we suggest the Meat Wagon, packed with cheese, bacon, black forest ham, and smoked pulled pork.

12160 US Hwy 98 N, Lakeland | (863) 853-9222
FB: The Red Top Pit Stop | IG @theredtoppitstop



nutwood – staff pick

This pimento-packed flavor punch in the mouth is a personal favorite. I’m pretty sure angels whisper recipes directly into Chef Steven Rojas’s ear, and he just does what he’s told. Nutwood’s hand-cut 8 oz. burger special (available most days) is made with chuck, short rib, and brisket and topped with smoked bacon or pork belly, pimento cheese, and arugula. A toasted brioche bun is plenteously spread with mustard aioli and viola! An absolute burger blessing. Sometimes, Nutwood even offers a bacon avocado burger. On Sunday, you can have it for brunch topped with pimento, secret sauce, smoked bacon, arugula, and fried egg with country-style potatoes. This might just be the hands-down best burger in the county – yeah, I said it. But, I’ll let you be the judge.

132 Ave B SW, Winter Haven | (863) 229-7770 | FB @NUTWOODWH | IG @nutwoodwh



dino’s drive-in

Dino’s is an old-school drive-in straight out of “Grease,” complete with car hop trays hanging from the windows of hungry customers. When you pull up, you can almost see a time of poodle skirts and waitresses on roller skates when you close your eyes. Dino’s Drive-in has been serving the community since 1968 with classic Americana diner fare from subs and salads to hot dogs and chicken tenders. And their burger offerings never disappoint. “Burgers are great, flame-grilled flavor, big to fit the big buns,” wrote one Dino’s Drive-in devotee. Patrons have the choice of small, large, large double, large bacon, or half-pound burger. Elevate your burger experience by adding cheese or hot slaw and make it a basket with fries and rice or slaw.

2929 Havendale Blvd NW, Winter Haven | (863) 967-0230 | FB @dinos.drivein



philly steak & wings

Located in an understated storefront in the Barclay Place Shopping Center, Philly Steak & Wings has the market on two things for sure – Philly steaks and wings. But they do a burger too! Choose between a 5oz single hamburger or cheeseburger or a 10 oz double hamburger or cheeseburger and BYOB (build your own burger). Optional accouterments include white American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, ketchup, and pickles. You can add on cheese, peppers, bacon, or mushrooms for a bit more. Their Smokehouse Burger, available as a single or double, is a crunchy, sweet, smoky affair with lettuce, honey mustard, BBQ sauce, bacon, grilled onions, American cheese topped with onion rings. Make it a combo! Just add fries, cheese fries, or onion rings. For the full Philly Steak & Wings experience, opt for rolled ice cream – it’s as much of a treat to watch it be made as it is to eat.

4963 US Hwy 98 N, Lakeland | (863) 606-6122 | FB: Philly Steak & Wings



david’s club at omni resort

David’s is a hotel hangout serving up seafood and steak main dishes along with a solid burger. The “DC” Proper Burger with melty American cheese, pecan wood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and special sauce on brioche has been described as well worth the trip. Our vegan readers will enjoy the fresh flavors of the Beyond Burger with arugula, charred red onion, saffron vegenaise, and orange & pepper marmalade on a pretzel bun.

1500 Masters Boulevard, ChampionsGate | (407) 390-6664, ext 6565
FB @omnihotels | IG @omniorlandofl



davenport’s ale house

Known as a “haven for sports fans and fun lovers,” Davenport’s Ale House has entertainment covered with a patio to chill on, a pool table, more than 50-game-watching TVs, darts, and basketball goals. It’s the perfect spot to grab a beer and a burger and watch the game. Their Build Your Own Burger (BYOB) is good any day of the week. Start your burger build with either an Angus Beef or Beyond Burger patty. Next, choose toppings from lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle, and add provolone, American, cheddar, or swiss for a dollar more. Get outrageous with add ons from sauteed onions, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, and avocado to fried egg and fried shrimp.

1260 Posner Blvd, Davenport | (863) 420-8000 | FB @TheDHouse1 | IG @davenportsalehouse01



scores family sports cafe

This tiny diner is located across from The Winter Haven Library. A breakfast and lunch comfort food go-to, Scores offers wings, apps, salads, a sizeable sandwich menu, and more. Their cheeseburger choices include a classic hamburger, Western Burger, Bacon Cheeseburger, Cajun Bleu Cheeseburger, Mushroom Swiss Burger, and a Patty Melt. You can even get a bacon cheeseburger wrap if you’re looking for a lighter bite. Look out for specials as burgers sometimes get some shine, like the Sunny Side Up Burger with bacon, cheese, and a sunny-side-up egg. “Wow! Had the Cajun blue burger, it was a party of flavor in my mouth. Best burger I’ve had in a long, long time. New favorite!” wrote one Scores customer.

324 Avenue A NW, Winter Haven | (863) 875-8499
FB @scoresdowntownwinterhaven



the lokale eatery

When in Winter Haven, eat like a Lokale. Fresh ingredients and community partnerships are the focus of this Central Ave. eatery. In addition to small bites, handhelds, and healthy options, The Lokale is lauded for its bounty of burgers. A Honeycomb Bread Bakers bun hugs two patties, American cheese, LTOP, and house sauce on their Butter Burger. Or how about their Tayler Made? Also a double, this beaut is topped with capicola, salami, lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli. The Buckeye Luke has a distinct BBQ vibe with double-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, fried onions, and house barbecue sauce. The downtown Winter Haven hotspot also offers the Hog Tied burger and a beefcake of their namesake – The Lokale.

276 W Central Ave, Winter Haven | (863) 875-7746
FB @TheLokelWH | IG @thelokalewh



davenport diner

The Davenport Diner is home to a tasty offering of soups, salads, sammies, and homestyle favorites. As far as burgers are concerned, they have a no-nonsense diner-style selection of burgers and melts. Hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, blue cheeseburger, mushroom, and swiss on marbled rye bread, and a patty melt are your cheeseburger choices. At The Davenport Diner, burgers are made daily from fresh, lean ground chuck, grilled, and served on a deli roll with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Make your meal complete with a choice of french fries, sweet potato fries or fresh chips, coleslaw, and a pickle spear.

40230 US-27, Davenport | (863) 353-2649 | FB: Davenport Diner



blue palmetto cafe

Located next to the Visitor Center at Bok Tower Gardens, Blue Palmetto Cafe is known for fresh salads, soups, sandwiches and wraps that are a perfect pairing with the natural beauty of Bok Tower Gardens. Blue Palmetto Cafe vaunts a Black Bean Veggie Burger served on sourdough ciabatta with artisan lettuce and tomato. This veggie patty is made with black beans, corn, brown rice, onion, and egg, making it vegetarian-friendly. Boxed lunches can be ordered for take-out or dine in for a picnic among the perennials.

Located at Bok Tower Gardens
1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales | (863) 676-1408
FB @boktowergardens | FB: The Blue Palmetto Cafe



mediterranean fresh grill

For standout Mediterranean cuisine in the Winter Haven area that looks as good as it tastes, look no further than Mediterranean Fresh Grill. Their stuffed grape leaves and garlic dip are to die for, and the spicy feta dip and chicken shawarma are out of this world, but we’re here for the burgers, baby! Prepared with love and all attention to detail by Chef Chadi, the Lebanese-style burger is made with a beef patty, coleslaw, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mozzarella cheese.

6035 Cypress Gardens Blvd, Winter Haven | (833) 633-4745
FB @MediterraneanFreshGrillWinterHaven | IG @freshgrillmediterranean



mojo federal swine & spirits

MOJO serves BBQ and Southern fare out of the former Federal Building in downtown Lakeland. Smoked meats, homemade sides and sauces, over 350 whiskeys, and handcrafted cocktails draw quite the dinner and lunch crowds. Prime your palate with an app of Kansas City Burnt Ends (the crusty outer edges of beef brisket), then sink your teeth into the BBQ Bacon Burger. This smoky behemoth is topped with bacon, Mojo BBQ sauce, jack, and cheddar cheeses. That comes with one of their homemade down-home sides like collard greens, black-eyed peas, mac & cheese, smoked yellow corn, and more. Oh, and they’ve got plenty of adult beverages to keep you happy and hydrated while you’re in burger bliss.

130 S Tennessee Ave, Lakeland | (863) 937-4226 | FB @MOJOFederal | IG @mojofederal



cornerstone grill

Cornerstone Grill is a family-run eatery that sources from local farmers and growers with sustainability in mind. Each meal is from scratch and made to order, including the Loaded Grilled Angus Burger. This bad boy is made with 100% Angus and topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, bacon, and cheese and served with fries. Don’t forget to ask about the Chef’s dessert of the day!

175 E Haines Blvd, Lake Alfred | (863) 875-8913
FB @cornerstonegrillLLC



super duper spot – staff pick

As the name implies, this Joinery-based burger joint is a pretty Super Duper Spot to grab a bite to eat. Simple but oh so good, their patties are made with Certified Angus beef and are available as a single or double topped with onions, pickles, and super sauce. Looking for a meatless option? Impossible or Double Impossible plant-based patties are dressed the same as their beefy counterparts – all the Super Duper flavor, none of the meat. In addition to their impossibly good burgers, Super Duper Spot offers chicken and fries options and a selection of malted shakes to wash it all down.

Located in The Joinery
640 E Main St, Lakeland | (863) 608-9455 | FB: Super Duper Spot | IG @superduperspot



mojo’s wings, burgers, beer

Mojo’s offers quintessential pub fare and ice-cold beer daily. Wraps and wings, salads and sandwiches, fajitas and fish fry, oh my! How about a half-pound fresh, never frozen Angus burger served with your choice of side? Their namesake burger is a classic. And be prepared to drool over their other offerings, including a BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger, Western Burger topped with ham, bacon, BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and red onion, and the Polk Country Burger topped with jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and red onion.

1853 E Memorial Blvd, Lakeland | (863) 583-9119 | FB @lakelandmojos | IG @mojoslakeland



ovation bistro & bar

You can get your hands around a juicy burger crowned by an Ovation-branded bun in Davenport, Winter Haven, and Lakeland! Ovation is a family operation serving the community an assortment of home-smoked barbecue, steaks, seafood, and more. Their Primetime Burger is 8 oz. of Certified Angus Beef topped with pickles, lettuce, tomato, and onions with the choice of one fresh side – and you can add bacon or cheese.

42605 HWY 27 North, Davenport | (863) 354-6967
FB @OvationBistro
Winter Haven
7130 Cypress Gardens Blvd, Winter Haven | (863) 656-1972
FB @ovationbistro2
4715 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 262-3000
FB @ovationbistro3



frost bite ice cream & more

If they didn’t have you at “24 hand-dipped ice cream flavors,” perhaps a certain wild west burger will gallop away with your foodie heart. This 50s-style Frostproof diner says there is a toss-up for patrons’ favorite burger between their tried and true fresh, never frozen cheeseburger hot off the grill and their Cowboy Burger. So dust off your boots and leave your horse at the door for this sharpshooter worth salivating over. Listen partner, Frost Bite’s Cowboy Burger is topped with American cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce, and onion tanglers.

801 N Scenic Hwy Frostproof | (863) 635-4222 | FB @Frostbiteicecream863 | IG @frostbiteicecream



tempo 1930

Sip a Maple Walnut Old Fashioned while overlooking Central Park, or take your Key Lime Martini to the cozy patio out back at Tempo 1930. Tempo refers to the live music played throughout the weekend, and 1930 pays homage to George Jenkins and the very first Publix store he opened in that location on September 6, 1930. Who wouldn’t want to bite into a juicy burger amid an upscale speakeasy vibe steeped in local history? First, you’re going to want to ask about the handcrafted burger of the week, and if that’s not up your alley, how about one of their other unique signature burgers? The Tempo Burger is tempting; a juicy half-pound beast topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Pinkies up for the Truffle Burger, a truffle oil and salt-infused masterpiece with roasted garlic aioli, provolone cheese, and portobello mushrooms. They even have a veggie option. The Cauliflower Burger is made with steak cut cauliflower, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato – yum!

58 4th St NW, Winter Haven | (863) 875-5323 | FB @Tempo1930 | IG @tempo1930


 That wraps up our Polk County catalog of cheeseburgers. Now it’s time to unwrap a few burgers of your own. Which listings had you drooling? Take a burger selfie and let us know! Also, re-read this and take a drink every time I said ‘no-frills,’ ‘no-fuss,’ or ‘no-nonsense’ – just for funzies. 

(1) comment


50 burgers in Polk County and you couldn’t find one in Bartow!???!! Muligans, Mike’s Grill, Bedrock, Mike’s Drive-in?????

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.