Red Mill Burgers
1613 West Dravus
Seattle WA 98119
Seattle's Lesser-Known Burger Spot
By: Steve G
Red Mill Burgers has won several awards in Seattle over the years from a variety of sources. Claiming the title “Best Burgers in Seattle” ten years running by Seattle Weekly, getting an honorable mention in GQ magazine, as well as on Oprah where it was called one of the 20 burgers you must eat before you die, Red Mill Burgers has developed a strong fan following that places it in an elevated status with local Seattle notables such as Dick’s and Kidd Valley.
Offering two locations in Interbay and Phinney Ridge, we trekked over to the location in Interbay as it was only a few minutes north of Downtown Seattle. The inconspicuous building is situated between a Starbucks and a pan-Asian restaurant named Pandasia. A prominently planted sticker on the door simply states “No cell phones”, but it’s a moot point as alternative/rock music is blaring inside that would surely make it impossible for anyone’s phone to be heard. Vintage clocks hang at every booth just to let you know what time it is and an old Rolling Stones poster by the back wall adds some vintage appeal.
Everything in Red Mill is basically self-serve, so don’t expect them to roll out the red carpet. The booths are undistinguished and some of the tables can be wobbly, making the dining experience a little troublesome at times. But it’s a burger joint, so what do you expect?
Red Mill Burgers offer traditional burgers served with lettuce, tomato, onion and their signature Mill sauce. Unique items such as the Red Onion Jam Burger and Verde Burger add a great variety to the standard menu. Everything is served la carte, so don’t forget to also order some fries or onion rings. Each burger is made to order with a 1/4lb. patty and a large toasted bun. If meat is not your thing, Red Mill Burgers also offers alternatives like the Garden Burger Deluxe and the Red Onion Garden Burger. Fans of bacon will truly love this place as we spotted a large towering slab of bacon nestled right next to the grill (probably for all the people that order the Bacon Deluxe).
Grant set his sights on the Red Onion Jam Burger ($5.95) with its caramelized onions on a Kaiser bun. Bryan opted for the BBQ Chicken Burger , while I went for the more conventional Red Mill Deluxe ($3.49). For sides we ordered French fries with Babe’s Onion Rings and a Tub O’ Tartar Sauce to round out the meal. Don’t worry, Tub O’ tartar sauce isn’t actually a tub, just a small container.
Fried in a semi-thick batter and seasoned with some pepper, the onion rings at Red Mill Burgers are some of the best that any of us have had. Combined with ranch or tartar sauce, they are fantastic even to those who are not fans of onion rings.
For milkshakes, Red Mill Burgers offers a vast array of flavors. Along with the standard chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, they also offer such unique flavors as mandarin chocolate, truffle mint, and creamsicle. I still rack my brain around how someone came up with a mandarin chocolate flavor, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
While the locations of Red Mill Burgers may seem little off the beaten path, being outside of the central neighborhoods, it’s hard to argue that going to Red Mill is not worth the trip. They’ve been winning best burger awards for ten straight years in the face of stiff competition, and after going there ourselves, we agree wholeheartedly with the hype.
Being an L.A. transplant, I’ve found it tough to find a great regular burger joint"considering I was raised on In-N-Out Burgers as a kid. Dick’s is the most famous burger stand in Seattle, thanks in part to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s notorious song “My Posse’s on Broadway,” but even it doesn’t quite cut it for my tastes. Red Mill Burgers falls somewhere in between those two famous burger joints. The quality of ingredients and variety of shake flavors are several notches above Dick’s but the patties just seemed a little too “Costco”-like. I really loved the onions rings, as they were about as perfect as it gets and the different flavors (some imaginative) of shakes really impressed me. I wouldn’t make the regular drive out here to pick up burgers, but if someone asked me where one of the best burger joints in town is, I’d direct them here.
Red Mill Burgers is an enjoyable standout in the nearly non-existent Seattle burger scene that easily surpasses Dick’s, Burgerville, Burger Master and of course, the various McRoadkill establishments. The burgers patties are fresh-grilled and charred in all the right places, the buns are warmly toasted while the veggies are crisp and juicy. Though I had the Red Onion Jam Burger, the onion flavor was rather mellow, as they were grilled and caramelized to a smooth sweetness.
Red Mill uses what they call their famous “mill sauce”, which brought back memories of my favorite childhood fast food chain called Arctic Circle and their “Fry Sauce”. The taste is like a mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise, lemon and other ingredients, which works fantastically on the burger. Starting at $3.10 for a regular burger, even your hard to impress uncle in Texas would have to grudgingly give a thumbs up to Red Mill Burgers. Oh yeah, the onion rings are a must-have.
In terms of cheap eats and burger joints, I wholeheartedly believe that Red Mill trumps all competing burger eateries including Seattle’s famous Dick’s. Now for its genre, Dick’s is a fine eatery, but between the bun, the meat quality, and the onion rings, Red Mill Burgers just about edges out all others in the same price bracket.
We all know the first bite is with the eye and many “cheap eats” diners certainly struggle with presentation. But when I first laid eyes on my Red Mill BBQ Chicken Burger, they told me I was in for a treat. These sandwiches look like those big, fluffy, plump fictitious burgers seen in so many commercials. The bun was fresh, large, and just looked good (and for the record, they were good). Given the quality of the bun, I was a little worried they might skimp on the chicken, but I was surprised to find that the chicken patty was remarkably large and in terms of meat quality, it could easily have passed for a considerably more expensive burger. And unlike so many chicken burgers before it, this one was moist, nay succulent. The only average aspect to the burger was the uninspiring blob BBQ sauce. And lastly, unlike Dick’s, Red Mill will accommodate custom orders.
Some golden and slightly crispy fries on the side proved adequate, but not quite up to the quality of the renowned fries at Dick’s. But the onion rings, oh the onion rings, were great (this coming from a devote onion hater). Made from the distinctly sweet Walla-Walla Sweet Onion, these rings were fantastically battered in a distinctly peppery breading and managed to leave your fingers largely free of heavy oil. Topnotch!
With all these factors combined, Red Mill is an easy recommendation for a tasty burger on the cheap. Go check it out!