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,

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

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 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 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.