The birthplace of the hamburger is an honor that many eateries have tried to claim over the years, but only one has been officially recognized by the Library of Congress as the real thing. It may also be the only one still cooking burgers on a vertical stove.
Louis Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut is a historic little diner that has been around since at least 1900 in some form or another. The original iteration was a lunch truck owned by Louis Lassen. According to the story the current restaurant owner tells, in 1900, a customer ran up to the wagon and demanded a quick lunch “to go”. Lassen took some trimmings from the regular steak sandwiches he sold, put them between two pieces of toast, and gave it to his customer. The hamburger was born.
The honor of being the birthplace of the hamburger was confirmed by the Library of Congress with the help of a member of the House of Representatives. (Sorry, Hamburg, Germany.)
The lunch truck later evolved into a small restaurant that has been in the same location since the mid-1970s. But even as the restaurant has grown and changed, they continue to cook their burgers on unique, vertical stove towers that date back to 1898.
Today, the restaurant continues to serves their burgers as they always have, with only cheese, tomato, or onions as accompaniments to the basic meat. They don’t offer other condiments, so don’t ask. Louis Lunch invented the hamburger, and you’ll have it their way, thank you very much.