1. Burger Burger
The Lane, Ponsonby Central, 4 Brown St, Ponsonby
Since opening in Ponsonby Central last year, Burger Burger has earned such a rep that it's had to open a second store, in Newmarket's Osborne Lane. These guys do simple stuff really well, offering just six standard burgers (we love the pulled pork with BBQ sauce and mint slaw, $12), one chef's special and smashing sides (try the charred broccoli with garlic butter and almonds, $8). They will also dish up your burger on a "bunnunce" lettuce leaf. The service is awesome, even when it's heaving (always) and it's licensed. It serves Kiwi Lion Red swap-a-crate style and other refreshments such as homemade sodas and Lewis Road Creamery shakes.
2. Better Burger
31 Galway St, Britomart
For a late-night burger fix it's hard to beat Better Burger's cheeseburger, $5.50 (with fries and a strawberry shake, $11.50). Sited beside Britomart Country Club, it aims to be an alternative to nearby greasy fast food joints. Better Burger is flippin' simple, affordable burgers made with organic local produce. The buns have been specially baked by Bread & Butter, using honey from bees on the family farm of co-owner, Nick McCaw. The tomatoes are from the Curious Croppers crew and the meat is North Island Angus beef. The joint is hopping on Friday and Saturday nights, open until at least 4am.
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3. The White Lady
18 Commerce St, Auckland
Our first two favourites are relatively new kids on the block compared to the long, well-lit White Lady van. The first White Lady was set up on nearby Shortland St in 1948. Perfectly positioned on Commerce St - between bustling Britomart bars and popular backpackers' hostels, the Auckland institution is still a family-run joint and its ovens crank round the clock on weekends. Take your pick from half a dozen beef burgers listed on the menu - we like the hawaiian with pineapple ($9.50). Be warned, they're massive. If you haven't smashed a White Lady burger on the inner-city streets in the wee hours, you haven't lived.
4. Food Truck Garage
City Works Depot, 1/90 Wellesley St West, Auckland
We always feel wholesome after a feast at the Food Truck Garage, thanks to their healthy fast-food ethos. According to its website, it crafts the "healthiest burgers and tastiest burgers in town". It serves a small selection on freshly baked spelt flour buns with oats and chia seeds (or gluten free if you prefer). We like the popular "beefroot burger" best - a beef'n'beet patty with cos, tomato, pickle and mayo ($12). The vego is also worth a whirl - made with quinoa, walnuts, red onion, slaw and a garlic harissa yogonaise.
5. Big J's Takeaway's
1 Melton Rd, Mt Wellington.
Our food writer friend Delaney Mes once described the $5.50 cheeseburger at Big J's as "comforting as any hug, and possibly more so". We've heard of people driving quite the distance to get a taste of this Mt Wellington burger joint that, despite its residential location, has a heavy stream of patrons and Facebook fans. It boasts big, beefy burgers and reveals a weekly special to its Facebook fans. Most recently, it announced the mouth-watering crumbed chicken burger with mozzarella cheese, sauteed onion, streaky bacon and chili aioli. And how about the Moroccan spice chicken with halloumi and mango chutney? Chow down on the lawns of nearby Cornwall Park.