Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Giant Burger - Union City, CA

Giant Burger in Union City, is tucked into a strip center among the warehouses of Union City. It was pretty quiet in the restaurant when I went in one day at lunch time.

The Bacon Cheeseburger ($4.55), Fries ($1.65) and Onion Rings ($2.19) were all very unimpressive, although they were hot. The burger featured American Cheese, crisp bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and a grilled bun. It looked good, but when I bit in, I mostly tasted mustard. The onion rings were overcooked and crunchy. The fries were standard issue medium cut. The best thing was the chocolate shake ($2.95). It was creamy and smooth, kind of like yogart.

Giant Burger will do in a pinch, but with Val's not to far away, that is a better option.

Burger 2 spatulas (out of 5)
Fries 3 spatulas
Onion Rings 2 spatulas
Shake 4 spatulas

Giant Burger
33592 Alvarado Niles Rd
Union City, CA 94587
(510) 429-1252

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Athens Burger Restaurant - Dublin, CA

Athens Burger Restaurant in Dublin, CA is a neighborhood burger joint amongst the chains clogging downtown Dublin. You have to drive past McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and a few others before finding the charming logo floating above the restaurant. Inside you will find a place full of cream and teal booths. Order at the counter and take your seat among the locals and armed-service people working in the area.

I tried the 1/4-pound bacon cheeseburger ($5.30), fries ($2.25), Onion Rings ($3.05) and chocolate shake.

The burger came out with lettuce, pickle chips, tomato, onion and thousand island dressing. The bacon was cooked correctly and American cheese nicely melted. But the burger looked better than it tasted. I found it pretty basic and while better than a warmed over slab at one of the nearby chains, it was nothing special. The fries and onion rings were both hot and right out of the frier, which, once again, is more than you can count on down the street. The milk shake was just okay and tasted like Hershey's syrup.

I will say, with their cool logo and nice atmosphere, I would opt for Athens again if burger hunting in Dublin. But would like to see a little more creativity in the burger.

Burger 2.5 spatulas (out of 5)
Fries 2.5 spatulas
Onion Rings 2.5 spatulas
Milk Shake 2 spatulas

Athens Burger Restaurant
6949 Dublin Blvd.
Dublin, CA 94568-3016

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bill's Cafe - San Jose, CA

Bill's Cafe is a charming local place in Willow Glen in San Jose. It has the feel of a long time neighborhood fixture with neighbors chatting and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. I walked in at lunch time and felt instantly at home. There were lots of burger choices on the menu, but I felt compelled to try the 3/4-pound Willow Glen Burger, with bacon, cheddar and avocado on a french roll.($9.50)

When I realized I had ordered a burger on a french roll, I tried to recall my order, but it was too late. They are fast at Bill's. The burger arrived minutes later. It is a monster burger served open-faced, with crispy bacon on top of a cheddar covered slab of fresh beef. The avocado was perfectly firm but not to much so. I found the burger good, but a little dry. Combining that with the dryness of a french roll, didn't work. Next time I will get a regular hamburger.

The fries, however, we fantastic. Maybe the best I have had. They were fresh cut and hot. Medium thick without skins, they were tasty and irresistible. The fries were worth the trip to Bill's alone.

The waiter noticed me taking notes and photos while I was ordering. I think that might explain why I was brought a complimentary dessert of bread pudding. A nice touch, I gratefully accepted.

Burger 3 spatulas (out of 5)
Fries 5 spatulas

Bill's Cafe
1115 Willow Street
San Jose, CA 95125
(408) 294-1125

Friday, April 4, 2008

Defining Terms – What is a Hamburger?

Recently, on a post to Hoosier Burger Boy I reviewed a burger from Bistro Vida. The burger was prepared by adding onions, parsely and garlic into the meat prior to cooking. A person commented that it was not a hamburger, but a “meat loaf” burger. I guess he might have a point. In his book, “The Hamburger”, Josh Ozersky defines a hamburger as “ground beef patty served on a white enriched bun”.

I like this definition and will adhere to it for a reviewing a hamburger. But remember, the site is called Hoosier Burger Boy, not Hoosier Hamburger Boy. I still wish to review other burgers, even if they aren’t pure “hamburgers”. These could include gourmet burgers, like Bix great concoction, with truffles mixed in. Or the Vida Burger mentioned above. I will place these in my gourmet burger ratings, instead of the top 10 Hamburger ratings. I might even review the occasional turkey burger or fish burger if it seems novel or interesting. But I will try not to call them hamburgers.

Also, my top 10 burgers will tend to come from burger joints, whose main purpose is serving burgers. There are some fine restaurants like Zuni CafĂ© and Oak City Bar & Grill that have fine burgers, but that really isn’t their main mission. I will put these in the gourmet burger section as well.


A Hamburger Today - New York's Burger Blog

I found this great site for burgering in New York. Check out A Hamburger Today. It is a lot of fun and shares your Hoosier Burger Boy's passion for hamburgers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Vida Bistro - Menlo Park, CA

Vida Bistro in Menlo Park has been a favorite hang out of mine for years. I was looking forward to reviewing the Vida Burger, a staple at owner Ali El Safy's comfortable restaurant. Ali once told me he got the recipe from his Mom.

The Vida burger is made of fresh ground beef mixed with garlic, parsley and onion and seasoned with salt and pepper. The patty is probably a little less than half a pound. It is topped with gorgonzola cheese, a roasted red pepper, and mayo. It all sits on a sesame bun. The Vida Burger goes for $11 with fries. It also comes with a nice side salad of mixed greens in vinegrette, and slices of tomato and onion.

My burger buddy John ordered one as well. John neatly cut his in half to reveal a perfectly cooked burger at medium. Biting into the burger the spices, cheese, pepper and mayo make a unique and satisfying taste. My only quibble is that the bun seemed a little stale so it did not hold togther as well as I like.

As usual the fries were great as well. The are thinner than your usual. Hot and salty and yummy.

We had a nice chat with Ali about slowing down and enjoying life. He had just returned from Rio and said that no one loves life more than the Brazilians. Ali's Bistro tries it's best to give the diner a little slice of that attitude.

Burger 4.5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 5 out of 5

Bistro Vida
641 Menlo Ave.
Menlo Aprk, CA 94025

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hamburger Shoes?

Doing a search on the web for krinkle fries, I found an interesting pair of sneakers on . A menu from a 50s diner is emblazoned on a pair of high-top Chuck Taylor's. I like the hamburger image right on the side. It is a shoe for a true burger-lover. Thanks to for the tip.