When it comes to burger shacks in Oslo, Illegal Burger is one of my absolute favorites. This Oslo burger has somewhat of a cult following. When I first moved to the city, some friends of mine were adamant that it was the best burger in town. Now, after having eaten it many a time, I agree that there’s something unique about it. Maybe it’s the smoky flavor from the Josper-grill or the nontraditional bun they use. Or perhaps it’s the memories I have from lining up in Møllergata every Friday after work. From that first moment the smoke entered our nostrils and triggered our mouths to start salivating. It was a good test of patience, because the wait could be up to an hour.
Looking for more great spots for food and drinks in Norway’s capital? Check out our city map of Oslo!
One of Oslo’s Original Hipster Shacks
The original venue of Illegal Burger is located in Møllergata, just above Youngstorget. It’s almost hidden where it lies stuck between the pizza place Hell’s Kitchen on the corner to the left, and the nightclub The Villa on the right side. Illegal shares toilets with the latter, and owners with both. Illegal Burger is one of those original hipster shacks in Oslo. Hardly anything about the exterior reveals what is hiding behind the doors. Similar to the cocktail bar No. 19 around the corner, or the anonymous Bar Robinet. Once you open the door to Illegal you are not in doubt about where you are, though. The smoke from the Josper fills the air, and together with the scent of melting cheese, and the aroma of sizzling bacon and grilled burgers, it is impossible to be mistaken.
I love Illegal Burger because it’s consistent and tasty. When you rate burgers you usually consider a lot of different factors, but the bun and patty weighs most heavily. Illegal’s burger is all about the smoky, Josper-grilled patty! The bun is not your typical soft, sweet, potato roll or brioche. Instead it is crispy, almost like a bread roll. Price is not that important to me as long as the burger is good, but NOK 100 for a burger in Norway is a pretty good deal.
My favorite burger from Illegal is no. 5, the Gourmet. It comes with grilled mushrooms, truffle mayo underneath, and a layer of melted Brie cheese on top. My second choice would be no. 3, the Hot Mama Deluxe with bacon, cheddar, and BBQ sauce. Don’t get the cheeseburger – it’s actually too simple and lacks flavor. Personally, I am also a sucker for the grilled potatoes with aioli. They are super crispy on the outside, and soft and gooey on the inside. Together with the fat from the dip and the crunch from the flakey salt sprinkles, they’re a piece of perfection for me.
From Møllergata to Markveien
When I worked in the city some years ago we used to go to Illegal Burger straight from work. We’d typically be there around 5:00 pm, just an hour after they opened, and the place would already be packed. There was never a vacant seat in sight and the queue would go out the door. However, we knew the queue would move fast, and seats would free up, because those chefs were working their asses off flipping burgers! People generally respected that others wanted to enjoy their burgers too, and didn’t hang around longer than they needed. Still, we always said to each other: Why don’t they open another place? Well, now they’ve finally done it, although it’s several years after the burger wave hit Oslo. Even Munchies, which opened way later, managed to open their second restaurant before Illegal did.
The second venue of Illegal Burger opened in October of 2015 at Olaf Ryes Plass in Markveien, Grünerløkka. The huge new venue is quite the contrast to the original burger shack. There’s a sign outside the door that welcomes you inside, and you can see from street level what’s going on inside. Seemingly endless rows of seats are a relief from the old game of musical chairs. The menu remains the same.
The Best Burgers in Oslo
A few years ago Oslo was a burger wasteland. Today, competitors have popped up everywhere, practically covering the city from west to east with decent options. Among the better ones, in my opinion, are Kverneriet at Majorstua and Burger Joint at Aker Brygge. Other places where I return more seldom are Bun’s Burger Bar at Sørengkaia, and Grill’s Ville. There are even some great restaurant burgers at places like St. Lars and Smalhans, but that’s a different category in many ways.
Read my test of all the burgers joints and find out who makes the best cheeseburger in Oslo!
What do you think about Illegal Burger? Please leave a comment below.