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Posts Tagged ‘great hamburgers’

Buckhorn Burger in San Antonio (New Mexico): #7!

November 20th, 2009 2 comments

I don’t really love hamburgers. Seriously. I thought this list of great hamburgers sounded like an interestingly absurd thing to pursue over time. That’s all. I do not love hamburgers. I don’t find them interesting to talk about or analyze. They’re fine. I’ve eaten 13 of the top 20 hamburgers. If I never get to 14? No. Big. Deal. (To me.) Very over it.

That said:

Apparently there’s a San Antonio in New Mexico also. They have this hamburger there, which is #7 on the GQ list:

IMG00321-20091116-1837Watch it ooze!

As far as the hamburger goes:

  • If you love green chilis, this would be the greatest hamburger ever.
  • If you’re luke-warm on green chilis, is still good although you’re kind of left wondering whether you’d like it better without so many dang chilis in it.

As for the fries:

  • What is it with the stupid “house fries” explosion we’ve seen over the last two years? If one restaurant in 100 sells them, fine, they’re okay at that frequency. When everyone does it, they’re just limp, greasy potato logs. Normal fries, please.

And the service? How about the service?:

  • Got there at 5:30 PM. Place was packed, but I was the only one waiting for a table.
  • Waited to be sat. During the 15 minutes I waited, no one talked to me and the wait staff conspicuously avoided making eye-contact.
  • When the manager came to the waiting area, there were three parties there. He said: “We should have a table ready in a few minutes”. When he recognized there was only one person in my party, he said, “You by yourself? You’re going to have to sit at the bar.” Is it because I’m white?
  • (OTOH, by sitting at the bar, I didn’t have to wait any longer for a table, so I guess it was win-win (except for all the losing).)
  • After placing my order it took 45 minutes to get my food.
  • That’s not an exaggeration: 45 minutes.
  • 45 minutes!

Anyway. Decent burger. Avoid Mondays. Won’t be going back.

bkd

PS, I like pizza a lot better than I like hamburgers. I don’t necessarily want to talk about pizza, either, though, or compile a list of great pizzas. Food: a means to an end. For me.

Rouge Burger (#4) and the Near-Term End of Ground Beef

October 7th, 2009 3 comments

The whole reason I went to Philadelphia was to knock off another hamburger. I could have knocked off two there, but man: I’m kind of tired of too-fancy hamburgers. One in Philly: sufficient.

IMG00133-20091004-1234The cheese is so fancy I can’t remember what it’s called.

I liked the burger better than Peter Luger’s — the cheese, whatever it’s called, could be tasted, for instance, and the patty didn’t break in half, although it’s the lumpiest hunk of meat I’ve seen in my life and too large to be consumed at one sitting. For as stiff as the bun looks in the photo, the bottom half disappeared pretty quickly And the potato ribbons fries were silly — I think maybe you’re just supposed to look at them. Sure they’re whimsical, but they tasted like over-used cooking oil.

Service was about 6 degrees south of indifferent. Maybe that’s how the waitress thinks service in France is. Or maybe it’s just hip in Philly to avoid eye contact. I should probably just be happy I didn’t get any batteries thrown at me.

And with that, I’m done with the hamburger list until New Mexico (where it’ll make a surprisingly strong resurgence — just wait). So, here’s my ranking of ranked hamburgers that I’ve eaten — the, uh, bottom half is filling out:

  1. Miller’s Bar – Dearborn (#8 in GQ)
  2. Houston’s California Burger – Santa Monica (#6)
  3. Le Parker Meridien Hotel Burger Joint Cheeseburger – New York (#9)
  4. Western Cheeseburger, Carl’s Jr. — Western U.S. (Not Rated)
  5. Red Mill Double Bacon Deluxe w/ Cheese – Seattle (#17)
  6. Poag Mahone’s – Chicago (#18)
  7. J.G. Melon — New York (#14)
  8. In-n-Out Cheeseburger — California/Nevada (Not Rated)
  9. Keller’s Drive-In #5 Burger – Dallas (#10)
  10. Rouge — Philadelphia (#4)
  11. Peter Luger’s — Brooklyn (#2)
  12. Burger Joint – San Francisco (#16)
  13. The Counter – Santa Monica (#15)
  14. Louis’ Lunch — New Haven (#20)

I threw in a couple of “control burgers” just for reference. I’m probably underrating the Western Cheeseburger, depending on which burger chef is on the line at Carl’s that day.

bkd

Luger Burger (#2!) and a Brooklyn Photo (Day 79)

October 4th, 2009 No comments

The PATH train always seems so convenient until you’re under the Hudson, at which point you realize that it takes a long time to get from Jersey City to NYC. Like 10 minutes, but still. Anyway, here’s the #2 burger in all creation:

luger_burgerCheck out how thick that bacon is! (It’s the white and slightly pink thing at the bottom, the last layer before you hit bun.)

  • The burger fell apart too easily.
  • It was better once I pulled the bacon out.
  • Not as expensive as I thought it was going to be ($13 burger, $4 fries, $3 drink — yes, that’s less than I expected).
  • I liked the fries — they were solid.
  • The burger came sans condiments and this time I went with the flow and kept it pure. Maybe I should’ve used the steak sauce tureen they brought out with the bread and water at the outset, though.
  • The saltedness seemed appropriate for the burger at hand.

It was good, but I liked the J.G. Melon one better. Peter Luger’s is world famous for its meat, but I was disappointed when my hamburger patty broke apart and fell out of the bun. I think they knew I wasn’t local. Maybe I should’ve just ordered the porterhouse after all. (No! I must complete the burger list!) (But I won’t on this trip regardless!)

I haven’t spent much time in Brooklyn, but I liked looking around. The restaurant is in Williamsburg, which is about 50% gentrified, 50% Puerto Rican. Interesting combo. The streets aren’t packed with people, so it would probably afford some nice, somewhat-rundown cityscape photography. It’d be gritty and cool — but all I brought was my cell phone.

I want to go back some time so I can re-take this photo with a better sky (and better camera and hopefully better light):

williamsburg_bridgeI like how flat it is.

That’s the Williamsburg Bridge — I don’t think I’ve ever been on it. Can’t really remember where in Manhattan it takes you — Bowery? I could look it up. Could.

One of the things I like about NYC and that this trip to Brooklyn reminded me of is that the city seems infinite. You could spend your life walking around it and still not see everything (maybe). ‘Course, there are parts you don’t want to explore, so maybe check those out during daylight hours and while you’re young enough to fight back.

bkd

PS, Went to dinner with Felice from my Michigan State month on Day 78. Was cool, good food, fun night.

The J.G. Melon Hamburger (#14) in NYC

October 3rd, 2009 4 comments

I was expecting to go to Louis’ Lunch the day before, but it turns out that they don’t serve dinner — well, except on some days. Not that day, though. So then I went there for lunch on Day 77, but then by the evening of Day 77, I was in Manhattan and kind of got happy about the idea of going to J.G. Melon since I wanted to walk a long ways and they were open until 2. That’s 2 AM, just for clarification’s sake. The dinner rush is later in NYC.

I’ve stopped starting my posts with the first paragraph, but now I think I’m starting with a paragraph that belongs between the first and second paragraphs and should therefore just not exist.

Whatever. I have a cold. I had it when I went to J.G. Melon. I’d also already eaten dinner at 6 (folded-over pizza from that place on University Place, which isn’t that good any more). But it was 8:30, I’d been to the Apple Temple, and J.G. Melon had seats available outside (because it was 50 degrees, but whatever — inside looked like the Tokyo subway during the morning commute (but with white people)).

IMG00121-20091001-2105One bite down, several more to go.

The potato chip fries were weird, but pretty good. The hamburger wasn’t ridiculously huge — I’m guessing it started out at 6 oz. before cooking, but was solid. They only had Grey Poupon available, so I kind of went mustard-free. But for a hamburger eaten while sick, un-hungry, and freezing to death on the Upper East Side, it was really good.

(Er, it was also expensive — the massive feast pictured above came to $20 before tip. Also, the place only accepts cash for some reason. I guess b/c they can get away with it.)

I was a bit concerned, though, to see that, in an updated article written by the dude who wrote the original 20 Hamburgers piece, J.G. Melon isn’t even in the NYC top five any more (because the guy doesn’t like the service there any more (?!)). Oh well — it’s all about the 2005 reality for me, I guess.

bkd

(PS, If you’re calculating along at home, it’s Sprite in the glass, not water. Refills are not free.)

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Great Hamburger #20 from Louis’ Lunch and a Photo from New Haven (Day 77)

October 3rd, 2009 3 comments

A couple Great Hamburgers ago, I kind of asked for more gimmick-burgers to counter all the straight-up normal burgers that seemed to be on the list. New Haven provided, and I’ll always remember that.

IMG00119-20091001-1253Look at it sparkle!

Truthfully? I liked the Indian food the night before a lot better. Here’s the experience in bullet points:

  • They don’t open until noon.
  • It took 45 minutes from the time I ordered to the time I got my burger.
  • They cook it in a weird iron contraption, kind of like a sideways waffle iron, four burgers at a time.
  • Then, yes, they put the meat on toast.
  • You’re not allowed to have condiments. They’ve singled out ketchup there as their true enemy, but I didn’t see any mustard either.
  • The burger comes with onions and tomato (if you order “works”).
  • When you give them your name as you order, they repeat it several times.
  • At the end of the day, the experience is kind of like waiting a long time in a crowded bar before eating meatloaf on toast.

And because I took the photo, here’s what the gaping maw of Yale looks like:

yale_gateIf you look hard enough, you can see Geronimo’s skull!

Also, at my cousin-in-law’s suggestion, I visited the Museum of British Art. I sort of like British art — they’re serious about their landscapes and, as someone who aspires to be a high-amateur photographer, it was particularly interesting to see how they composed their subjects. My favorite painting there was one called The Deluge, which depicts people getting swept up in the (Biblical) flood. Maybe I’ll get a chance to photograph that somewhere along the line here.

bkd

Miller’s Bar: Greatest Hamburger on Earth (So Far) (Day 64)

September 19th, 2009 3 comments

Drove from Chicago out to Dearborn, Mich. to meet with my ol’ mission buddy Jeff and his wife and to take in the #8 hamburger of all time. (I’m not sure why I never take photos of people I meet up with on this trip. And if I started now, it would seem sort of mean toward everyone I didn’t already take photos of.)

Right, so Dearborn has this bridge that I drove under and that I thought looked cool.

dearborn_bridgeBut my real cameras were packed in my backpack and it would’ve been an awkward place to get out of my car.

Then we hit Miller’s Bar. Kind of an odd neighborhood — some beautiful, old, small residential homes (like 20 of them) right behind the bar, but otherwise car dealerships and closed-up restaurants dominated. Ah well.

When we sat down the waitress came to ask what we wanted, at which point Jeff informed her that we hadn’t seen the menus, at which point she seemed a little flustered before answering: we don’t have menus, we only have hamburgers or cheeseburgers and french fries and onion rings. At which point Jeff said, “Oh”. Per the GQ list, I ordered the hamburger. They brought a cheeseburger, though, but I don’t think GQ would really disapprove.

millers-bar_burgerWith a bun that shiny it *has* to be good!

I can’t explain why exactly, but of the straight-up burgers from the list, this is my favorite so far. I don’t know.

  • It comes out with just bun, burger, melted cheese.
  • The waitress brings slices of onion on a napkin and there are pickles, ketchup, and mustard on the table.
  • You’re on your own from there.
  • Ordered medium-rare, yet the bun remained firm and true without disappearing.
  • I don’t know. I just don’t know.

It just tasted fantastic. And it wasn’t like I hadn’t eaten all day or anything. I really think it was the burger. Maybe they put good spices on it, or maybe they’ve got a meat grinder in the basement and are pulling a Sweeney Todd on us, but whatever. Simple, yet transcendent.

So of the eight I’ve eaten so far, here’s my rank order:

  1. Miller’s Bar – Dearborn (#8 in GQ)
  2. Houston’s California Burger – Santa Monica (#6)
  3. Le Parker Meridien Hotel Burger Joint Cheeseburger – New York (#9)
  4. Red Mill Double Bacon Deluxe w/ Cheese – Seattle (#17)
  5. Keller’s Drive-In #5 Burger – Dallas (#10)
  6. Poag Mahone’s – Chicago (#18)
  7. The Counter – Santa Monica (#15)
  8. Burger Joint – San Francisco (#16)

I’d say IMHO, but no: this is not a matter of opinion. This is fact.

bkd

(PS, I think I’ll only get to six more on this trip — outside shot at seven, but they get packed in pretty tightly in the tri-state area upcoming and I can’t eat more than one hamburger a day without getting sick.)

Chicago City and Hamburger #18 at Poag Mahone’s (Day 62)

September 19th, 2009 3 comments

I’m catching up. Oh yes, I’m catching up. Went to Chicago (all things go, all things go, I know) to meet up with my buddy Dayn Perry and check out burger #18. Was in Chicago sort of recently, so I didn’t make much of a day of it. And I only took my cell phone cam.

Here’s a picture I took with my phone from the train:

chicago_train-windowTaking photos in trains always makes me feel like I’m part of a Journey video — although I suppose that’s a bus rather than a train. Tja.

chicago_sunsetYep, it’s a large city at sunset alright.

chicago_beanThere should be a chili restaurant inside.

Those last two photos were not taken from the train. Ended up at Poag Mahones, the only Irish pub I’ve ever seen that closes before, I dunno, 2 AM? They were kicking us out at 8:30. Here’s the burger.

chicago_poag-mahone-burgerPretty standard.

Regarding the burger:

  • It was straightforward.
  • It was good.
  • Any burger place that will allow you to order medium-rare is good, IMHO.
  • It wasn’t spectacular.

I sort of wish the GQ list had more gimmick burgers on it. So many of them are just plain, straight-up burgers and therefore hard to differentiate. #18? Eh, sure, why not? Seemed like a nice enough bar/restaurant, didn’t think it was cool to get kicked out at 8-fetchin’-30.

  • This was the seventh I’ve eaten so far out of the 20.
  • Stay tuned to hear about the eighth, which has (in the actual now) been eaten and digested.

Always cool to hang out with old friends, btw. I’m always sort of surprised how well I always still get along with people I haven’t seen in a long, long time.

bkd

Great Hamburger #17: Red Mill in Seattle (Day 31)

August 16th, 2009 No comments

Finally back on the hamburger trail with #17 at Red Mill in Seattle. Per the GQ List requirement, I ordered the Double Bacon Cheeseburger, which was about twice as big as I was really interested in eating. And yet I persevered.

IMG00009-20090811-1658Comes with bacon bunny at no extra charge!

IMG00010-20090811-1658The lineup. See if you can find my mom’s elbow in the photo!

My main impression was that it was a really big burger, what with the two patties and all. Red Mill is famous for their secret sauce, which is sort of a barbecue+pepper thing. It’s distinctive. I liked the burger, it was unique. I don’t think I loved it, though. But the fries were good, I got plenty full, and the creamsicle shake afterward was downright special.

bkd

The Burger Joint, San Francisco (#16)

July 17th, 2009 2 comments

Knocked off another of The Great Burgers of the World yesterday, the “Hamburger and Fries” from “The Burger Joint” in SF, at the corner of “Haight” and “Pierce”. (Would’ve put SF in quotes, but it seemed too obvious.)

Here’s what it looked like part-way through:

burger joint san franciscoThe now-traditional bad cell phone hamburger photo.

You can check out other blog entries (of mine) regarding GQ Top 20 hamburgers on my other blog here, if you’re so inclined (and who wouldn’t be?). Plus you can encounter my raving narcisissm more clearly on display.

As for this burger — I don’t know any more whether any burger deserves to be in the Top 20 of anything. That said, it was a really good burger. Very straight-up, nothing fancy about it: burger, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle. Was fried-to-order, medium-rare (and a little on the rare side at that!). Cost like $11, which would be steep if it weren’t in “San Francisco”. Fries were big, but average. Only issue with the burger was a little bit of disintegrating bun syndrome, though not as bad as some I’ve had and probably hard to avoid given how much blood was still seeping out of the patty.

And I tried to get the #11 burger for dinner tonight in Napa, but was told that they “sold out of hamburgers at lunch”. I think that disqualifies that one from the list.

Having now showered for three nights in a row (!) and therefore going soft,

bkd

(Side note: very, very good-looking cashier — sorry, no photo. If it’d been LA, I’d have assumed she was an “actress”; not sure what the SF equivalent is.)

Recurring Themes for the Cross-Country Road Trip Itinerary

May 12th, 2009 8 comments

I’ve had a few people ask me about whether I was going to try and “hit all x of y” during the trip. Actually, I’ve had two people ask me this and both with the same example: catch a game at all 30 Major League baseball parks. So: I’m not doing that. But I still have some themes lined up. Ready?

You sure?

Cuz I can do this later if you want.

K, ready?

Themes currently planned into the itinerary:

  • The 20 Best Hamburgers (as defined by this article from GQ): SF, Napa, Seattle, Chicago, Ypsilanti or Dearborn, Newport RI, New Haven, NYC (x2?), Philly (x2?), San Antonio NM, and Santa Fe. I’ve hit a few of the others, but if I do all of the above, I’ll only be missing the one in Hackensack, NJ and Hollywood, FL. (I probably won’t hit all of the above — they’re uncomfortably concentrated in a few cases.)
  • National Parks  — per the as-yet unpublicized Ninth Itinerary, I’d hit as many as 24 of the 58, including (only?!) 17 that I haven’t visited before.
  • “Great Day Hikes” — There was an article about The 100 Greatest Day Hikes in the last Backpacker magazine. I’m not really using that as a checklist, but I like the concept and day-hiking is kind of the skeleton around which the rest of the trip has been planned.
  • Military and Flight Museums: McMinnville maybe, USAF in Dayton, USMC in Quantico, USN Flight in Pensacola.
  • US Tourist Checklist Stuff I Haven’t Done Before — although, I’m not sure what I’d count under this other than Mt. Rushmore, Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty (and I *lived* there even), the French Quarter, and The Alamo. Maybe that’s enough — but if I go just three hours out of my way, I can also see the St. Louis Arch! (Meh.)

Had some other theme ideas also that are sort of in the hopper, although I worry that they’ll get in the way of having an actual semi-relaxing, enjoyable trip. Ah well. They would be:

  • Photographing every broken-down farm building that I see.
  • Photographing every gas station I tank up at.
  • Photographing every state line crossing (so trite).
  • Collecting a shot glass (or key chain or baby spoon or hat pin or…) from each state and/or Sehenswürdigkeit.

Any further thoughts appreciated. Unless they’re no good.

bkd

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