As with every article I write, I do my research. I go to these places. I ask, “what are you guys known for?” Then I order just that. After completing my search for the Fort Riley area’s best burgers, I have the following to report: if you love burgers, then you’re at a good duty station. Also I gained five pounds, but have a great personality. Without further ado, let me lay some burger wisdom on you.
Oh sweet Jesus, do I love Vista. On my way home from every field exercise, before showering, I hit up Vista. Located on the far East side of Manhattan on Tuttle Creek Blvd., Vista looks like something straight outta 1964 (I didn’t just make that year up, they were founded in 1964). Their burgers pack that greasy, straight off the line and into the paper bag kinda old school flavor that we all miss. The patties are hand formed so you don’t have to wonder if your burger was pre-manufactured or shipped frozen.
Right and Up Tip: I love the classic Vistaburger, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them. I’d also like to add that their shakes are AMAZING and they offer a military discount.
Cozy Inn has several storefronts in Kansas, but while at Fort Riley you need look no further than Aggieville in Manhattan for this beautiful burger oasis. The Cozy Inn specializes in sliders, which play beautiful mind tricks on you as you pile 10 in your gut and tell yourself that it’s equivalent to 2 “regular” burgers. Keep dreamin. Cozy keeps it simple: patty, bun, onion, pickle, condiments.
Right and Up Tip: Don’t ask for cheese…you will be judged. Ordering a burger “all the way” means you want everything on it (pickles, onion, ketchup and mustard). Oh, and you can order by the sack! “I’ll take a sack of burgers please.” It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to just say this out loud.
Another far Eastside Manhattan favorite is Big D’s. Just up the road from Vista, this burger shack is a true hole in the wall that’s got a cult following. They feature fresh burgers made from locally sourced beef that’s ground daily and their shakes are made from ice cream produced by the cows at K-State. If you’re craving their burgers but are pressed for time, you can call ahead and your order will be waiting for you when you arrive.
Right and Up Tip: Want to feel like you’re in high school again? My husband and I would drive the truck to Big D’s on a Friday evening with our dog. Order a burger from the window and eat it in the truck bed in the parking lot while watching the sun set.
This place is not only my favorite restaurant near Fort Riley, but it also has one of the best burgers in the area: the Kobe Slider. Located in downtown Manhattan, B&B specializes in tapas (small, appetizer-sized plates). My husband and I typically share every plate, but we always order our own Kobe slider. Words just can’t express how juicy and delicious this burger is, so please, just go and try it for yourself.
Right and Up Tip: I normally order my burgers medium rare, but I order the Kobe slider medium because their “doneness” scale errs on the rare side.
I love this place. Located on Manhattan’s West side, this dive bar is great for a lot of things, burgers included. I think what I like most about their burgers is the selection. Not only do they serve classic burgers, but the flavor combos on their other options are just mouth-watering. They occasionally do burger specials with items like Mac n’ cheese or jalapeno poppers inside the burgers. When available, these are a must-try!
Right and Up Tip: Gotta go with the Wrangler burger. Anything with crispy fried onions and BBQ sauce is a sure way to my heart (and my hips…)
I’m the kind of person who orders the craziest-sounding burger on the menu whereas my husband prefers good classic burgers. Nothing wrong with either. I am an equal-opportunity burger eater. I would say my favorite thing about their burgers is their ability to pair sweet and savory.
Right and Up Tip: Before leaving Fort Riley, I attempted to try every burger on their menu, but failed (I know…I’m a loser). But, I’m here to vouch for the awesomeness of the following: Chili Cheese Burger, Aloha Burger, Peanut Butter Burger and the Resist Temptation Burger.
A local favorite, Little Apple (or “LABCO” if you’re feeling hip…speaking of hips) is located in West Manhattan next to Dillon’s and JoAnn’s Fabrics. While attending a Hail and Farewell here for my husband’s unit, I decided to “go crazy” and order their Nacho Burger. Nobody was talking to me anyway so I figured I might as well stuff my face and update my Instagram…I am so cool. Anyways, it turned out to be fantastic! I really thought the crispy tortilla strips would be soggy because of the queso fundido and pico de gallo, but I was wrong.
Right and Up Tip: To further ensure that nobody talks to you, make sure to order a beer flight (6 tasters) to wash down that burger. Since you’ll always have a burger or drink in hand, your inner introvert will send a clear message: “stay away, I’m busy!”
Despite being a chain restaurant, Smashburger, from what I’ve found, delivers consistently mind-blowing burgers no matter where you find it. I equally enjoyed stuffing my face with their BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar burger at both Fort Bliss and Fort Riley.
Photo cred: Cortney Martin
Right and Up Tip: Along with serving beer, they also make some wicked good fried pickles. Probably the best I’ve ever had.
Ok, so this is another chain, but people really do love it, and with several locations in the Fort Riley area, you can be sure to get your burger on most anywhere. And while it is a national chain, it might interest you to know that their first restaurant was opened just a short drive away in Wichita. Despite falling under the Fast Food category, your food is cooked to order. Patties are flattened out on the griddle to give them that nice char.
Right and Up Tip: Be sure to load up on the Freddy’s sauce!