Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hat Creek Burger Co. - Austin, TX

When I was recently in Austin, I observed a really cool trailer selling cupcakes. My wife Pat loves baking so I snapped a photo for her. (See my photo below.)

Sounds like "trailer cuisine" is a big thing in Austin. I found a company called Hat Creek Burger Co. that has a mobile feast for burger lovers. I cannot wait to try it next time I am in Austin.

There are a whole host of fine foods being served on trailers. Check out the Austin Chronicle Article from February outlining different cuisines. They have cupcakes, tacos, pizzas, crepes and even Turkish food.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Bistro Burger - San Francisco, CA

I was shopping at yule time in good old San Fran,
With nieces and nephews and all of the clan.
We grew very hungry from spending our cash,
We needed some food so we would not crash.

Down to the food court we flew as a group,
Looking for salad or Chinese or soup.
But what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Bistro Burger in the food court rear.

I knew in a moment a cheeseburger was mine,
I ordered one up, with o-rings and fries.
The beef was from niman it said on the sign,
I added gorgonzola and bacon to mine.

My bro-in-law John and sis-in-law Shake,
Had burgers along with a veggie for Kate.
We ate with great gusto the burgers were fine,
Our tray was all empty in almost no time.

And wiping our mouths and straightening our clothes,
We finished our meal and from our chairs rose.
And as we exited the food court and faded from sight,
We said, “Merry burgers to all and a good Christmas night.”

Burger 3 spatulas out of 5
Fries 2.5 spatulas
Onion Rings 2.5 spatulas

Bistro Burger
Westfield Shopping Center
865 Market Street
San Francisco, CA

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Taxi's Hamburgers - Santa Clara, CA

Taxi's Hamburgers in Santa Clara, CA brings back memories of when I used to take my daughter there many year's ago. I would get the burger and she the grilled cheese. Then we discovered Johnny Rockets and switched burger joints. We went to the Taxi's in Palo Alto, which has since changed it's name. The lady at the counter in Santa Clara told me they were all changing their names. The place felt a little tired and neglected. Maybe they are trying to breath a little life into things by changing the name.

I ordered the 7 ounce Big Taxi Burger with cheese ($5.29), French Fries ($1.49) and a half order or onion rings ($2.19). I can tell you, for a half order you get a lot of o-rings.

The burger is made from fresh beef and sits atop a toasted sesame bun. It comes with American cheese, mustard, mayo, a big chunk of iceberg lettuce, red onion slices, and tomato slice. Although the burger was cooked nicely and looked great, the beef seemed a little lacking in flavor. The other items tasted good and blended well, but I might try a different combo next time. Maybe some bacon to spice things up.

The fries are very thin and have skins on. They were crisp and hot. The onion rings were battered and fried crisp. They were also very hot. But the o-rings didn't have much flavor either. In fact they tasted a lot like the fries.

So overall, I think it was all okay, but I wouldn't rush to take my daughter back for a reunion meal.

Taxi's is a small chain with stores in San Mateo, Palo Alto, Modesto, Dublin and Walnut Creek. Their site also lists Georgia as having locations. I hope they get back to their lively old ways. I used to really like Taxi's.

Hamburger 3 spatulas out of 5
Fries 2.5 spatulas
Onion Rings 2.5 spatulas

Taxi's Hamburgers
3139 Mission College Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA
(408) 235-8877

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Little Red Wagon Hamburgers - Round Rock, TX

Little Red Wagon Hamburgers in Round Rock, Texas beckons from the side of the road like an old favorite uncle. You know, the one that used to have all the funny nicknames and was fun to hang out with when you were a kid. The one that would say, “You want a hamburger for breakfast? You got it!”

My friend Jeff and I pulled up to the little red building that houses the restaurant and strolled in. Like that old uncle, the place is a little tired looking, but charming and very comfortable to hang out in. Yellow tabletops and red vinyl chairs are neatly situated next to the Salad Wagon. You order at the counter and love it when the bill comes to under $15 to feed two grown men a tasty repast.

I ordered the Double Meat Cheeseburger ($3.39), Fries ($1.49) and a 20 oz drink. They have a special deal for those three for $5.29. I also ordered onion rings. Jeff had a standard Quarter Pounder with fries.

While we waited for our food, a steady stream of folks filtered through. The carry-out phone didn’t stop ringing. There was music playing but it sounded more like Western than Country. The old stuff.

The burgers came and were piping hot and fresh. Kind of the classic style with the thin patties and lots of toppings, there was pickle, tomato, shredded lettuce, onions, American cheese and lot’s of mayo and mustard. The white bun was nicely toasted. It all tasted very nice together.

The fries were standard medium cut, with no skins, but were smokin’ hot and perfectly salted. They tasted great. I liked the light coating on the thinly sliced onion rings too.

Next time you are in the Round Rock area north of Austin with your uncle, drive past all the chains with their me-too burgers and take him to Little Red Wagon. Makes sure you take him for breakfast. He will feel very comfortable there.(See below.)

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

Little Red Barn Hamburgers
1211 E palm Valley Blvd.
Round Rock, TX 78664

Mojo Burger - Campbell, CA

Mojo Burger in San Jose has finally brought a good burger to the South Bay masses. I have been searching for a good burger in San Jose, in addition to the Counter. I finally stumbled into Mojo in the San Jose Pruneyard one Saturday. (Note: This location is now closed, but there are three others.) My daughter, who has her learner’s permit (for driving, not burgers) needed some practice, so she drove me down.

Mojo is in the old Johnny Rocket’s space at the Pruneyard. Not much has been done to the place other than take out the jukeboxes at each table and put up some signs and a menu board. You order at the counter and take a seat.

One of the signs read Meyer Natural Angus Beef. So I looked forward to trying it out. The Meyer website says that the beef is fed a combination of grains and grass. So it may not be all grass fed.

I ordered the Mojo w/ Cheese ($4.79), Fries ($1.79), Onion Rings ($3.89) and a regular chocolate shake ($1.99). You can also get a combo and save money.

Our number was called and we got our food. Sara thought the fries were pretty good. They are medium cut with skins and were very hot. The onion rings were also very hot. They were big, battered and crunchy. The milk shake was creamy and very cold. Excellent.

But, what about the burger? It is always a good sign when the bun is white, enriched bread and toasted. The American chese was nicely melted on the 1/3 pound patty. The pickle chips were crisp and the lettuce and tomato fresh. I had asked for grilled onions, but they weren’t. The patty it self had a very nice flavor and was pink as it should be. A very good burger.

As I was leaving, someone behind the counter asked how I liked my burger. Turns out it was Peter Favre, the owner of Mojo Burger. I told Peter I really liked the burger and I was happy to find a good burger in San Jose. Peter says they are really trying to create a family atmosphere and indeed, they have lot’s of kids items on the menu like grilled cheese, chili dogs and of course great cheeseburgers.

I will be back to Mojo. They are really onto something.

Burger 4.5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 4 spatulas
Onion Rings 4 spatulas
Shake 4 spatulas

Mojo Burger
The former Pruneyard location was reviewed here, but there are three others.

Also in San Jose at Willow Glenn and Snell Avenue.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hut's Hamburgers - Austin, TX

Hut’s Hamburgers in Austin, Texas is great place to have a hamburger right in the middle of Austin’s downtown scene. I got into the airport about 2:30 in the afternoon and was very hungry. I locked in “American Food” and “$” on Urban Spoon on my iPhone. Hut’s came up on the second shake. The Austin Chronicle review said “The legendary Hut’s rests not on its laurels but often atop beef eater’s picks for Best Boiger.” How could I not go?

As I approached on 6th street, I couldn’t miss the distinctive white building with red and blue trim. Hut;s is situated near the river, which flooded in 1981. Apparently, Hut’s was the only thing nearby to survive the flood and when a local said “God Bless Hut’s”, it stuck as their motto.

I sat down inside amongst the red tables and hanging sports penents. The restaurant was crowded with mostly students and families of students. I placed my order with the charming young server. A Hut’s Favorite Burger ($6.25), a Half & Half order of fries and pepper onion rings ($3.75) and a chocolate shake ($3.25).

Five minutes later my food arrived at the table. The burger consisted of a 6 ounce Texas Grassfed Natural Beef patty, topped with American cheese. A lightly toasted bun encased the burger, bacon, cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato slice and mayo. My bite was rewarded with a nicely seasoned patty of pink beef. It was thick and juicy and nicely complimented by the other elements.

The onion rings were magnificent looking monster slices of sweet onions thickly breaded with pepper flakes visible. They weren’t as crunchy as they looked though. I found the fries more to my liking. I forgot to ask if they were fresh-cut, a rarity these days, but they sure tasted like it. Long and medium thick with the skins on, they were excellent.

The milk shake was as good as any I have tasted. It was cold and creamy, but not too thick to suck through the straw. I sucked it down quickly and was very disappointed when the whipped cream made it to the bottom of the glass. All that was left was the cherry, now on the bottom.

As, I was eating, I heard the fellow next to me naming off penents. He said “Purdue”, my alma mater. I looked up and there was the black and old gold banner right above me. God Bless Hut’s.

Burger 4.5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 4 spatulas
Onion Rings 3 spatulas
Milk Shake 5 spatulas

807 West 6th Street
Austin,Texas 78703

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Atkins Burger at the Counter

I have been on a modified Atkins diet for a week or two. You know the one, no carbs. Only eat meat and salad. Although I can't satisfy my french fry fix I can at least try for a burger. The Counter in Palo Alto, offers a burger on a bed of lettuce. After a couple of tries I dialed in a pretty good combo.

I ordered the 1/3 pound burger on the bed of mixed greens. Toppings were Blue Cheese, Bacon, Grilled Onion, Roasted Red Peppers and just for fun, the fried egg. I also recommend the Honey Dijon Balsamic dressing. Sort of the American version of the classic french Salad Lyonnaise.

I found this to be quite satisfying and I left the counter full. Give it a try. You can have your burger and lose the weight.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Greening Of Meat Production

The New York Times reports that farmers in the Netherlands are making headway in reducing greenhouse gasses from the production of meat. According to the article over 18 percent of harmful gasses are caused by meat production. More than by cars, buses and trucks. This article adds some hope that through new methods we might still be able to enjoy our hamburgers with careful planning and management of feeds, waste disposal and limiting the cutting down of forests for grazing. Check out the article at www.nytimes.com. The photo is from the New York Times.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Heart Attack Grill - Chandler Arizona

Burger scout Mark sent me a link to a recent report on the Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, AZ. Their Quadruple Bypass Burger weighs two pounds. Their all-you-can eat french fry bar features lard-fries. See the report from CBS Sunday Morning. Fortunately, they have qualified nurses on staff if you overdose on fat. See photo on the right.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Flipper's Gourmet Burgers- San Francisco, CA

Flipper's in San Francisco's Hayes Valley has been recommended to me several times. Set on the very hip Hayes street amongst edgy fashion and home stores, Flipper's is anything but trendy. As you walk up you notice all the folks eating in the side patio under umbrellas. Inside, there are wood tables and charmingly disheveled interior.

I sat down and was instantly waited on by a nice young lady who immediately brought me my Iced Tea. I ordered the Big Flipper burger ($9.25 with fries and salad.) I also ordered onion rings ($5.25) when I was told they couldn't do a split. But when the meal came, she had gotten the split for me. Special orders do not upset them at Flipper's.

The burger comes with both Jack and Cheddar cheese. On the side are tomato, lettuce, red onion and a kosher pickle. The burger, from fresh ground chuck, was cooked a little under medium and the meat was delicious. The sesame bun was nicely toasted.

The fries were thick steak fries, hot and tasty. The onion rings were thin and crisply breaded.

Flipper's is a great place to chillax in Hayes Valley. They also have two locations in Petaluma.

Burger 4.5 Spatulas out of 5
Fries 4 spatulas
Onion Rings 4 Spatulas

Flipper's Gourmet Burgers
482 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Houston's - San Francisco, CA

Houston's in San Francisco is a national chain of steak houses with a pretty good reputation for food. I was meeting some business associates there for lunch. Jimmy V. told me that the burger was pretty good. I always do what Jimmy V. suggests, so I ordered the Cheeseburger ($14).

The burger comes with fries. The menu said it was ground daily from fresh beef. I believe it. The burger was nicely pink. The patty, probably 8 ounces, was covered with cheddar cheese. It sits on a toasted sesame bun and has mustard and mayo. There was also shredded lettuce, tomato slices and onion. I brushed the vegetables aside. The burger was rather salty, almost like it had au jus on it. Overall a nice burger, but nothing special for $14.

The fries were excellent. Very thin, almost matchstick size, with skins on the ends.

Overall, I think the burger at Houston's is good enough, but not as great as Jimmy V. thinks. But please don't tell him.

Burger 4 out of 5 spatulas
Fries 4.5 spatulas

Monday, November 17, 2008

Canned Cheeseburger?

I am a camper. And I love hamburgers. But I am not sure I could eat this. I tried to order it, but the German Company that makes the canned Cheeseburger does not ship to the U.S. Thanks to burger lover Steve who told me about the canned cheeseburger. See the original website for the canned cheeseburger, www.trekking-mahlzeiten.de.

One brave soul actually ate one. It is all on youtube.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gott's Roadside - St. Helena, CA

Gott's Roadside (formerly Taylor’s Automatic Refresher) in St. Helena has been a Napa Valley institution for years. Everyone talks about wine when they think of Napa, but they should also think of great hamburgers.

My wife, Patricia, and I visited the St. Helena location on an unseasonably hot Saturday in November. This is a great time of year to visit Napa, because the fall colors are in full swing. The great weather brought out a throng of like-minded folk. The mid-century style building sits just south of town. A sheet metal smoke stack belched smoke form the grill.

At the refresher you order at one of two windows. They take your name and you sit at one of the many picnic tables outside to wait for your order. There was a line of at least 50 people waiting to order when we arrived. It took a good 20 minutes. But we got acquainted with burger lovers from Fresno, Denver and Mississippi while we waited in line. Pat got a white wine for her and a beer for me while we waited.

When we finally got to the front of the line, Pat ordered a plain Cheese Burger ($6.79) and I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger ($7.99). We also ordered fries ($1.99), Onion Rings ($3.99) and a Black & White Milk Shake ($4.99).

We sat down with our new friends and quickly got our shake. It was a handsome looking concoction with chocolate syrup artfully flowing in the shake. It was very creamy and tasty. Perfect on this hot day.

About 10 minutes later our name was called. We retrieved our feast from a nice young man carrying it on a metal baking sheet rather than a tray. Everything looked very good.

I immediately bit into the burger. An ample patty, I guess 8 oz., was nicely cooked over a flame until pink. The California beef is all natural with no added growth hormones or antibiotics. On top of the patty was crisp bacon, American cheese, pickle chips and a secret sauce, that resembled thousand island with a little extra spice. The yellow egg bun was toasted and firm. Everything blended very nicely. I quibble that the cheese should have been directly on the patty instead of on top of the bacon. The cheese was not all melted.

Pat’s plain cheeseburger was actually better. You could taste the excellently flavored beef and the American cheese was all melted.

The fries were thin cut with skins on. They were crisp and fresh tasting. Very nicely salted and yummy eaten several at a time. The onion rings were beer batter style. They were crunchy on the outside and sweet on the inside.

I asked if I could try the sweet potato fries that our Mississippi friends had ordered. Southern hospitality still reigns and I was rewarded with a chili-spiced fry. They were very good, even better than the French fries.

The line continued to build throughout our meal and was only slightly shorter when we left around 2 PM. When we drove back by at 3 PM it was still there but considerably shorter. It is no wonder that at some time in the past Taylor's Refresher decided to do away with the carhops. They could never have kept up with the demand. The drive-under awning is still there though if they should ever decide to revive it.

Burger 5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 4 spatulas
Onion Rings 4.5 spatulas
Milk Shake 5 spatulas

Gott's Roadside
933 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574

Also locations in Napa and in San Francisco at the Ferry building.

(Photo Below: Vines and trees battle to show the most fall color in Yountville.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Joya - Palo Alto, CA

Joya in Palo Alto is not a burger joint. It is a tapas and small plate restaurant with "modern latin cuisine". My wife, Pat and I went to the restaurant one evening for dinner. The tables were all full so we sat at the bar.

This is a great room. Front lanai doors were opened up to the warm evening. The cool bar was crowded. We found two chairs and checked out the menu. I could not resist the Kobe Beef Mini-Burgers ($11).

The burgers were served artfully on a white plate. They have Oaxaca cheese, soria chorizo and chipotle mayonnaise. Our first bite revealed a luke warm burger. We sent them back.

When the next set came out they were hot. The burgers had a charcoal taste and a weird aftertaste. Probably the chorizo. I wasn't too crazy about them. The couple sitting next to us had ordered them too and liked them a lot. So maybe they just didn't hit me right.

We struck up a nice conversation in the relaxed, sophisticated atmosphere of Joya and enjoyed sipping our wine and eating our other food. Joya is a great place to kick back with friends and enjoy an evening out. But maybe focus on the latin food.

Kobe Beef Mini-Burgers 2.5 spatulas out of 5

339 University Ave.
Palo Alto, CA


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jeffrey's Hamburgers - Menlo Park

Jeffrey's Hamburgers in Menlo Park is a great venue. The restaurant is a retro blend of steel, red laminate and great lighting. I can't think of a nicer place to have a burger and the throngs that migrate there from open until close every day must agree.

The only catch is, I was never too crazy about the burger. It always seemed a little bland and unimaginative although very well prepared. It is made from fresh ground chuck, just like it should be. The bun is a white bun, nicely grilled. The onion rings ($2.99) are fantastic crunchy, yummy perfect. The fries ($1.39) are good medium cut fries. Jeffrey's have a nice condiment bar.

Having tried several combinations, I gave it one more shot on a Saturday afternoon. I ordered the Bacon Cheese Burger and added the grilled onions ($7.99). When my burger came, I put some brown mustard and ketchup on it. I dug in and realized I had finally hit the right combo. The American cheese blended with all the other flavors in a perfect balance. The mustard-ketchup combo kind of created the special sauce that I always thought Jeffrey's needed.

I am now happy to know that Jeffrey's, practical walking distance from my house, is a reliable burger fix whenever I want. Jeffrey's San Mateo was reviewed previously.

Sorry about the lousy burger photo. I took it with my phone since I wasn't expecting to do a review.


Burger 4 spatulas out of 5
Onion Rings 5 spatulas
Fries 3 spatulas

Jeffrey's Hamburgers
888 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Juicy Burger - Santa Clara, CA

Juicy Burger in Santa Clara was my accidental choice. I was headed for Chubby Burger in Sunnyvale, which had great reviews on line, but I was sad to find it closed when I pulled up. I typed "Best Burger" into my iPhone and found Juicy Burger to be the closest non-chain.

Set in a pink strip mall on El Camino, it wasn't hard to find. As I pulled up I noticed a sign in the window that said "Recession Burger". There was another sign that said "Vegan Luncheon". Knowing that someone had a sense of humor, I was encouraged. There were three guys eating at the larger of two sets of unmatched tables. The fellow at the counter took my order of one 1/2 pound Super Juicy Burger ($6.65), Fries ($1.90) and Onion Rings ($3.75). I asked if he could give me a half order of fries and onion rings and he accommodated me.

I took my table and looked around. The place is a little seedy, but generally clean. Some kittens outside the window meowed at me through the glass. On one side of the restaurant the walls are covered with posters of bad guys. Al Pacino as Scarface. The Sopranos. Barry Bonds. Stephen Jackson. On the opposite wall it was all good guys. San Francisco 49ers for the most part.

The burger has two patties of beef stacked up and cooked through. I think they start frozen, but I am not sure. They were charcoal broiled with American Cheese on top. The sesame bun was nicely grilled. I topped it from the amply stocked condiment bar that included lettuce, tomato, onions and most of the other things you would suggest. Everything looked very fresh.

I must say the burger was fairly unremarkable. Although it was well prepared and hot and the condiments were fresh, it just didn't excite me. The fies were so hot I burnt my tongue. Maybe that is why they didn't seem to have much flavor. The onion rings were overcooked, standard-issue, breaded frozen o-rings.

Overall I would say that Juicy Burger is OK in a pinch, but I wouldn't make a special trip back. I am still looking for great burger in the Santa Clara / Sunnyvale area. St. John's is the best so far. By the way, I asked about the recession burger. The guy at the counter shrugged and said it is a bun and lettuce.

Burger 2.5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 2 spatulas
Onion rings 1.5 spatulas

Juicy Burger
2725 El Camino Real #102
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Boston Food Fight

Jon Defreest writes a great food blog in Boston and he is on the Great Burger Quest. His blog is called Food Fight, check it out.


Counter Opens in Roseville

The counter is now open in Roseville, with another one coming to Corte Madera in 2009. See my review of the Counter in Palo Alto and in San Jose. Also they have a cool graphic of a hamburger building itself on their website. Check it out at www.thecounterburger.com.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Chicago Burger Project

I go to Chicago frequently having grown up in Indiana. So I was very pleased to find a link to the Chicago Burger Project on one of my fellow burger sites, Portland Hamburgers. The guy is passionate and loves photos. Next time I am back home, I will definitely use this resource to find my burgers.


Classic Burger Recipe

A HoosierBurgerBoy reader recently logged onto the blog and asked me the best way to make an American burger for their new restaurant in Mallorca, Spain. Here is the response I posted. I would love to get any comments back on what you would put down as the recipe for the Classic American Burger.

My response:

Be glad to give advice for an American style burger. I recently had a burger in Bilbao and it was awful. Bland meat, basically flavorless.

Here is what I would do.

1. Make sure the beef is ground chuck. Freshly ground each day. Preferably naturally raised or grass fed.
2. Make sure you serve it on a white enriched bun. Not a brioche, or roll or other type of bread.
3. The patty should weigh between 1/3 and 1/2 pound pre-cooked weight.
4. Use swiss or american cheese.
5. Serve with fresh tomato and lettuce on the side.
6. Thousand Island Dressing for Sauce or if not then offer, mustard, mayo and ketchup.
7. Offer grilled sweet onions sliced very thin.
8. Don't overcook. Medium is best.

Good luck and send me a story and photo when you are done. I will put it on my blog!


Friday, November 7, 2008

Val's Burgers - Hayward, CA - Update

I recently revisited Val's to make sure that it was still deserving of it's Best Burger ranking for the Bay Area. I am glad to report it was. Nothing much has changed since 2007. The burgers are still charcoal-broiled perfection. The o-rings are crisp and the atmosphere is retro-perfect. I added photos to the old review, since I didn't take photos on my original visit.

See the original review updated with photos.


Green Hamburger?

Is their such a thing as a green hamburger? Recently I was involved in launching a line of cubicles that are green. I never thought I would say that. So why not a green hamburger?

Looking on google for a green hamburger doesn't yield much. There is an article on treehugger.com that looks into the carbon footprint of a burger. It is not pretty. To put this in perspective, the average American eats three hamburgers per week! That produces enough carbon as more than 7,500 S.U.V.s.

Much of this is due to the feed produced to raise a pound of beef. Also, the 600 liters of methane per day that a cow belches is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas according to Thomas Freidman in "Hot, Flat and Crowded", his excellent book on the coming green revolution.

But like the green cube, I am committed to either finding or creating a green burger. Certainly grass-fed locally produced beef is a start. Burger Joint and Burger Meister in San Francisco move in this direction with "naturally fed" beef from local sources. I reviewed Burger Joint and reviewed Burger Meister previously. But naturally fed probably also means grain fed. So I will be keeping an eye out for grass fed, locally grown beef. We will see if it tastes as good and if it costs anywhere near a traditionally produced burger.

If you know of any green burgers, let me know. We will continue our search for the World's Best Burger.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tighten the Belt, Loosen The Belt

Johnny at askmen.com alerted me to a nice article about tasty designer burgers that I might be interested in. I read the article outlining recipes for a Smokin' Meat Burger and Hot Wings Burger among others and agreed. So if you are tightening your belt in these hard economic times, try one of these at home. Then after you eat, loosen the belt back up to make some room.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Billy's Giant Hamburger - Jackson Hole, WY

Billy’s Giant Hamburgers in Jackson, Wyoming really does have giant burgers. We were in Jackson Hole for a few days to celebrate my friend Bill’s 50th birthday. After a morning of mountain biking through the Tetons we slipped into Jackson for some refueling.

Billy’s is a small place. The grill is surrounded by a counter that seats about 20. Billy’s is located right across the street from the main square in Jackson. Just look for the giant arches made of elk antlers, then head to the west side of the square. It shares a space with the Cadillac Grille, but eat in Billy’s at the counter.

They were a little backed up. The grill was loaded with huge patties of fresh meat and our server said we would have to wait about 20 minutes. Billy’s supplies burgers to the Cadillac Grille too. I ordered the Cheeseburger and fries ($6.70) with grilled onions (50 cents). Bill had a cheeseburger.

The guys behind the counter efficiently got caught up and before too long we had our burgers. They sat upon a nicely grilled sesame bun amongst a pile of criss-cut fries. Each burger has mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. The meat was nicely seasoned with pepper and salt and cooked nicely medium, although Bill’s was closer to medium rare.

It had been a good six weeks since I had my last burger. It was heavenly and I downed it in minutes. In my beef deprived state I might have gotten a little carried away, but I thought it was superb. The meat and the vegetables were well-balanced with the burger coming out prominently in the mix.

We headed off for the afternoon for some beautiful hiking in the Tetons – well fueled and satisfied. They like their elk meat and trout here, but nothing beats a good slab of ground chuck, well-prepared like they do at Billy’s.

Burger 4.5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 3.5 spatulas

Billy’s Giant Hamburgers
55 N. Cashe St.
Jackson, WY 83001

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Great Outdoors - High Springs, FL

The Great Outdoors Restaurant in High Springs, Florida is a lovely Oasis in the heart of the beautiful springs of Northern Florida outside Jacksonville. We went here for dinner after a day or kayaking on the beautiful Ichatucknee river. The occasion was my mother’s 70th birthday. My sister, brother, mother and her husband Paul all gathered for our post float soirée.

Even though this was supposed to be a fancy dinner, I couldn’t resist getting a burger from the roster of imaginatively named choices. All were named after famous local springs. There was an Ichatucknee Burger, but I passed and went for the Ginnie ($9.50). It was made from a half pound of fresh ground Harris Beef. There was cheese, an onion ring, and apple wood bacon on a soft and springy bun covered with flour. A nice BBQ sauce was spread thinly as well. The bun was grilled crisp on the inside. Our waitress said it was a custom-baked 5” bun flown in from Wisconsin.

Since we had also ordered lots of appetizers and each of us had a full entrée coming, we ordered the burger as an appetizer. Our always-accommodating server had it artfully cut into quarters and delivered with fries spread between. The fries were standard issue coated fries, medium cut and coated with a mildly spicy coating. Not as imaginative as the burgers and local beers.

The burger however, was excellent. The beef was cooked to a perfect medium. It was tasty and had a nice charcoal crunchy outside. The BBQ sauce, bacon, cheese and onion ring blended nicely together to compliment but not overwhelm the burger. We all loved it. I ate a second quarter.

I washed it all down with a Naked Ed Pale Ale. A local brew named after the man who sits watching over the local springs in as pure a state as the springs themselves. What a charming place for a great burger find.

Burger 4.5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 3 spatulas

The Great Outdoors Restaurant
Main Street
High Springs, FL

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mission Burgers - Fremont, CA

Mission Burger in Fremont, CA is an old time burger stand in the best sense. it sits snugly in the old Mission Area of Fremont in the shadow of Ohlone College and the Fremont hills. It is a tiny stand just big enough for two women to cook burgers and fries and make milk shakes.

On this sunny day, students representing the vibrant diversity of California noshed as one. A couple of good old boys were out for their burger as well. I ordered the Mission Special ($5.19) that includes Cheeseburger ($3.19 by itself), fries and a coke. I also ordered the onion rings for $1.89. I took a seat at one of the many picnic tables.

My number was soon called and I retrieved my order. Everything was meticulously wrapped in paper on a clear plastic tray. The onion rings were hot, but a little greasy, medium thick and battered. The fries were big steak fries. No skin, scalding hot, they were slated just right and very tasty.

The burger was nicely stacked ad assembled with onion slices, tomato, lettuce and mayo. American cheese melted on top of the patty. The sesame bun was toasted. It is a classic burger stand burger and charbroiled just right.

I found the whole experience very satisfying. This burger Utopia is a great place to visit and enjoy.

Burger 4 spatulas out of 5
Fries 3.5 spatulas
Onion Rings 3 spatulas

Mission Burgers
135 Anza Street
Fremont, CA 94539

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Rustic Moose - Ketchum, Idaho

The Rustic Moose in Ketchum, Idaho has been a family favorite for many years. We have been traveling to Sun Valley every summer since 1993. The Rustic Moose sprung up several years ago when its predecessor restaurant the Buffalo Grill shut down. In fact, old favorites like Buffalo Chips, a potatoes, bacon and cheese dish and the Buffalo Burger are still on the menu.

We happened to visit during Wagon Days. A festival in Ketchum that has a parade celebrating the area’s mining and cowboy roots. The parade has no motorized vehicles. It includes lots of old stagecoaches, the Budweiser Clydesdales and a massive chain of ore wagons pulled by some 20 mules. The parade was passing by while we ate. We had the usually crowded Rustic Moose to ourselves because no one could park in the blocked-off roads near the restaurant.

It turns out the Buffalo Burger ($14.25) is in fact a hamburger made from 1/3 pound of fresh ground beef, not buffalo. I ordered it up along with fries and onion rings that come along. The burger sits on a wonderfully fresh and springy bun. The outside is crunchy and the inside is grilled. There is a tangy aioli sauce, avocado, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and red onions as well. The beef is fresh and good, but really is just a small note in the wonderful symphony of tastes. It is a very unique burger that I highly recommend.

The fries were thin cut, coated and very tasty for coated fries. The onion rings are thickly breaded in a peppery crunch and cooked very dark. The coating somewhat overwhelms the thick onion inside.

After eating we all retired outside to the sidewalk to watch the end of the parade. Against a backdrop of Bald Mountain and partly cloudy skies, buggies and horses flowed by. We sat across from a small announcer stand where two, half-drunk urban cowgirls narrated the parade telling us about the spotted ass ranch entry and how mules were smarter than most of their ex-husbands. Sun Valley is a lovely, quirky place and that and the Rustic Moose are two of the reasons we love it.

Burger 4.5 Spatulas out of 5
Fries 3.5 spatulas
Onion Rings 4 spatulas

The Rustic Moose
700 N. Main Street
Ketchum, ID 83340