Friday, July 15, 2016

Belcampo Burger at the Yard - San Francisco, CA

The Belcampo Fast Burger is a burger masterpiece right by the Giants Ballpark and goes great with an Anchorsteam beer.
Nothing beats a great burger with a beer on a summer day at Belcampo Burger at the Yard in San Francisco. Just this season Belcampo Meats opened this burger stand at the Yard next to McCovey cove at the Giants Ballpark in San Francisco. No one seems to realize they can get one of the best burgers in San Francisco even on days where the Giants aren't playing. 

The Belcampo Double Fastburger ($9), is a very tasty and fresh concoction. Two 3.5 oz nicely peppered patties of their pasture raised organic beef lay the foundation. American cheese between and on top oozes everywhere. Fresh butter lettuce, tomato and red onion sit atop. The potato bun is soft but holds together. The ketchup Aoli is the perfect sauce. You can't get a better fast food style burger in SF. 
Belcampo Burger at the Yard is Empty on Non Game days. 

I recommend splurging and adding the bacon. Even at $4 it is exquisite with the right amount of smoke and crispness. Gluten free buns and lettuce wraps are available. 

One more note, Belcampo uses beef from the animals raised organically on grass on their farms in Gazelle, CA. So the meat is exquisite. 

I paired my burger with a California Lager ($7) from Anchor steam right next door. Jimi Hendrix and Smashing Pimpkins played while we ate. If they only had wine too, my wife would think it was perfect.

Even though there was no Giants game a lively Cornhole tournament was underway. 
Thick Cut Fries from Belcampo at the Yard

Fries are thick cut. Hot but a little soggy. Nicely salted and tasty. Make sure you try their special house-made ketchup. 

Burger 5 spatulas our of 5
Fries 4 spatulas

Belcampo Burger
The Yard 
100 Terry Francois Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94158
Belcampo Burger at the Yard- No waiting on non-game days. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Ledlow - Los Angeles, CA

The magnificent tower of a burger at Ledlow in downtown Los Angeles.
Ledlow in downtown Los Angeles fires up an exquisite burger. Not a burger joint, but a very nice restaurant, Ludlow impresses with this magnificent concoction.

We love eating in downtown Los Angeles and have enjoyed the other restaurants in the Ludlow family like Baco Mercat and Bar Ama. So when I ordered the 8 ounce double burger ($16), I did so with high expectations. They also offer a triple 12 ounce burger. 

The burger boasts a toasted poppy-seed bun. The spicey garlic aoli mayo sauce is yummy and combines nicely with American cheese. The burger had the right amount or Lettuce, but a little too much raw onion for my taste. There were tasty pickles as well. The bacon added a smokey note. The two beef patties were thick and juicy - cooked medium well. They burst with a nice griddled peppery flavor. 
High ceilings and space create a nice atmosphere for burger munching at Ludlow in Los Angeles.

The fries were steak-sized with dill and salt. Hot and yummy. Not mealy in the middle like a lot of big fries.   
Make sure if you go to have the Parkerhouse rolls before the burger as an appetizer.  

Burger 4.5 spatulas our of 5
Fries 4 spatulas

400 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Big Jud's - Boise Idaho

The Bacon Cheeseburger at Big Jud's in Boise, Idaho is a nice looking stack. 
Big Jud’s has the best burger in Boise, Idaho according to Yelp and a few other sites. Me and fellow burger seeker John decided to swing by and give it a try. On a Friday evening it was packed. The board featured the 1 pound and 2 pound burger challenges, where you ate either with a similar amount of fries in 30 minutes and got a t-shirt (for the 2-pound) and your picture on the wall. Of course Adam Richmond  had been there and taken the 2-pound challenge. 

But how was the normal burger? I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger ($6.49) from our very friendly server. John had the Bacon Burger. We also ordered Small Fries ($2.49) and Onion Rings ($2.79). We sat and looked around the restaurant as we waited for our food. The tables are steel-topped and the seats red naugahyde. It is a fast-food-style place that is a step up with the table service. Very nice. 
Big Jud's Fries are thick and filling

The burger arrived with ketchup, mustard, pickle chips, onion, tomato and green leaf lettuce. I got the onions grilled. The griddled patty weighs 1/3 pound. Add a second patty for $2.50. The burger presented very well. Since it sat on a plate, unwrapped, it isn’t smashed down. The toasted white bun was lovely. Bacon practically snapped when you ate it, very crisp. Lettuce and tomato tasted fresh. American cheese melted artfully. Everything was really perfect, except for the patty itself. Mine was overcooked and a little dry. Not terribly flavorful, but everything else saved it. 

The fries were very thick with skins on, hot, but a little soggy. Get the special fry sauce with your order. It is kind of like a french dressing and makes a good dip. My favorite thing was the onion rings. Lightly battered and piping hot, they were crisp and delicious with a sweet onion on the inside. 

As we were leaving people at the table next to use received the 1-pound burger. As big as a pie pan with a knife sticking in the center, the bun alone would make it a challenge to eat in 30 minutes. With the massive fries, I don’t think I could do it. 
The massive bun for the 1-pound burger at Big Jud's in Boise, Idaho

Is Big Jud’s the best burger in Boise? Maybe. I will have to try others to be sure. But I enjoyed the visit. And loved the vibe.

Burger 3.5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 2.5 spatulas
Onion Rings 4 spatulas

Big Jud’s
1289 South Protest Road
Boise, ID 83706

The rules for the 1-pound and 2-pound burger challenges at Big Jud's in Boise, Idaho.

Friday, May 27, 2016

District Donuts and Sliders - New Orleans, LA

District Donuts and Sliders has beautiful small burgers.
Donuts and Sliders are fabulous at the aptly named District Donuts and Sliders on busy Magazine Street in New Orleans. We joked that when we were in New Orleans for three days that we needed a second lunch every day to get to try as much of the great food as possible. This place is just the ticket.  

The line forms early here with as many people getting the massive donuts as getting the diminutive burgers. We ordered one beef slider with cheese ($2.75) only and another with everything and bacon ($3.75). The sliders have 2.5 ounces of beef. Sauce like French dressing and crisp pickles. The dehydrated poppy seed bun sits soft and squishy to hold the juicy, medium rare and flavorful patty. Yum. Perfect for a second lunch. We also got the Pork Belly Slider for $4.50, excellent, but the burger was better.
The Waffle Fries are hot and salty at District Donuts and Sliders in New Orleans. 

After I saw the waffle fries ($2.75) I wished I had gotten them too. By that time the line was huge. I asked the chef if I could order from the bar. Yes. Grant the a manager hooked me up. It was worth the wait. They were salty and hot. 

The best part was the great vibe and happy helpful crew. The place bubbled with a positive vibe. With the manager actually plating the food, the quality here was very high. 

Hamburger Slider 4.5 spatulas out of 5
Waffle Fries 4 spatulas 

District Donuts and Sliders
2209 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
The donuts are bigger than the burgers and District Donuts and Sldiers

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Plan Check Kitchen+Bar - Los Angeles, CA

The Plan Check Burger

Plan Check Kitchen+Bar in Los Angeles is the offspring of Umami Burger. We stopped in for a burger at the Sawtelle location. The place was already buzzing at 6 pm on a Friday night in this bustling neighborhood. 

We grabbed the last spot available at the “Chef’s Bar” facing the kitchen. We loved the fact that the place has a first class cocktail bar. I ordered a Little Osaka Sour ($12). Patricia ordered a glass of wine. In no time our drinks arrived and we placed our food order. 

I ordered the PCB - Plan Check Burger ($12.50) and she got the Short Rib Pot Roast ($16). We also got an order or the Sweet Potato Waffle Fries ($6).

We watched the busy kitchen assembly line making the food and talked to a friendly guest next to us. The food arrived. The burger sat handsomely on an iron mini skillet. The Americanized Dashi Cheese oozed over the sides of the patty. The mixed pickles stuck out and the sesame covered “crunch” bun was perfectly shaped and nicely toasted. The first bite made me think of seaweed. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it was an unusual sensation. Onions were grilled soft and flavorful. The ketchup leather added a rich note. The meat was juicy and tasty. 
Sweet Potato Waffle Fries at Plan Check Kitchen+Bar

Our neighbor cut me off a piece of his Chef’s Favorite Burger ($14) and I must say I preferred it. The bacon slices and bacon Thousand Island dressing combined with the two cheeses (melted Amercian and a cheese crisp) to make a really delightful, if more traditional tasting burger. 

The Sweet Potato Waffles were a good idea. Accompanied by peach ketchup and nicely salted, they had sat too long in the counter before reaching us and weren’t as hot as I would have liked. They stayed crunchy however. 

We ate dessert. The Cruller Donut is a misnomer. Basically it is a circular churro with cinnamon, custard, whipped cream and bananas. It is a creative idea. Once again, not hot when reaching us, but still tasty.  

Overall, I found Plan Check a fun experience and a lively setting. (We walked by a little later and it was packed.) But it does have the distinct feel of a chain-in-waiting, with not as much passion and soul as I would have liked. 

Burger 3.5 spatulas out of 5
Sweet Potato Waffle Fries 3 Spatulas

Plan Check Kitchen+Bar
1800 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 444-1411
Cruller Donut Dessert at Plan Check Kitche+Bar

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cassell's Hamburgers - Los Angeles, CA

The Patty Melt at Cassell's Hamburgers in Los Angeles' Koreatown.
Cassell’s Hamburgers in Los Angeles, CA is a fabulous spot in Koreatown for catching a burger after a drink. We had just finished a couple of rounds of cocktails at The Normandie Club and slid next door to check out Cassell’s. 

At night it feels like you are in an Edward Hopper painting sitting at the classic tables in the classic styled diner. We ordered burgers. Patricia got a plain 1/3 pound cheeseburger with cheddar ($9.99) and I ordered the 1/3 pound patty melt ($10.99). We also ordered fries ($3.50). 

The staff was a hoot. Our waitress was friendly and talkative. The young man who brought us our burgers was equally delightful. Patricia asked if he had won the lottery. He said no, but  friend in Chico Hills had posted a picture of the $1.5B winning ticket on Facebook. That would buy a lot of burgers. 
Cassell's Hamburgers has the classic diner look. 

The Patty Melt was awesome. Crisp rye. Sweet grilled onions. The swiss cheese squirted out from the bread to form a cheese skirt. The patty was loosely ground and juicy - not too tightly packed. The bread was nicely toasted and tasty. I liked the mustardy sauce on the side for dipping the burger. 

Patricia’s plain cheeseburger was yummy as well. The white bun was firm and spongy. Cheese melted perfectly over the tasty patty. 

The fries were just ok. Medium cut. Probably from frozen. Nothing special. ($3.50)  

We loved the atmosphere and the burgers. Swing by Cassell’s for a trip back in burger time. 

Burger 4 out of 5 spatulas
Fries 2.5 out of 5

Cassell’s Hamburgers
3600 W 6th St. 
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 387-5502

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

WesBurger - San Francisco

The WesBurger with Irish Cheddar, Grilled Onions and Jalapeño Pickle Relish.
Wes Burger is opening soon in the Mission in San Francisco. In the meantime, Wes Rowe is showcasing his formidable burgering skills at a pop-up every Wednesday night. The pop-up is at Mojo Bicycle Club on Divisadero. Wes takes over the cafe and cranks out a different burger and version of tots every week. 

The night we went, WesBurger was concocting a delicious burger with sharp Irish cheddar, caramelized onions, homemade jalapeño pickle relish ($11). I added bacon for $2 more. The burger patty sported coarsely ground brisket, loosely packed and fried in an iron skillet, creating a lovely crisp salty exterior. His white bun is locally produced. 

Before the burger came out we were treated to his weekly tot construction. Dubbed Irish Poutine ($8), the piping hot tots were topped off with shredded cheddar, bacon and a curry sauce, a crazy combination that worked. I stopped myself from eating too much and ruining my appetite. 

The burger arrived to a hearty “Scott!” from chef Wes. We picked it up and headed back to our table by the window on busy Divisidero. One bite and I was on the WesBurger team. The patty has plenty of fat and taste despite my concerns about low fat content from the brisket. Wes told me that he leaves enough of the brisket fat to get it where it needs to be. The Coarse grind allows the fat to melt down through the patty. Bacon was not crisp but very flavorful. The pickle relish was not overly spicy, making a sweet and acidic compliment to the sharp cheddar. 

Beverage note: Wine and beer from the Bicycle club were a nice bonus with the burger. 

WesBurger opens on Mission near 18th sometime in March, they will have 3 or 4 burgers on the menu and a nightly special. Chef Wes is using the pop-up to gauge the favorites. I might have to check back on another Wednesday and place a vote. 
The Irish Poutine with Cheddar, Bacon and Curry Sauce smothering the Tots.

Burger 5 spatulas out of 5
Poutine 4 spatulas


Popping up at:
Mojo Bicycle Club
639-A Divisadero St, 
San Francisco, CA 94117

Chef Wes Rowe