Sunday, April 26, 2009

Juicy's Giant Hamburgers - Reno, NV

Juicy’s Giant Hamburgers in Reno, Nevada is a clean, new burger joint on Wells Avenue, a recently paved and face-lifted area that is in sharp contrast with much of the rest of Reno. There are no slot machines; this place is about the burger.

There are lots of places in the Bay Area named Giant Hamburger. They tend to be older burger places where you get a 1/4-pound burger that might have been considered giant back in the day, but now seems average at best. This is not one of those. The standard patty is 1/3 pound of fresh ground beef. I got the Double Cheese burger ($6.57). I added fries ($1.47). There were no onion rings.

The burger came out quickly, wrapped in white paper, with the fries in a plain white bag. Piled on top of ample lettuce, tomato and onion, the two patties covered in melted American cheese towered above the tray. I took a big bite and was very impressed that the burger was indeed juicy. Although presented like your classic burger with all the vegetables, mayo and mustard, this one had enough beef that the meat dominated the experience in all the right ways. The sesame bun was grilled nicely as well.
The fries were thicker than most, with the skins on. They were very crisp and tasty.

With its spare concrete floor, wood walls and basic laminate tables ad vinyl chairs, the restaurant was a clean, friendly port in the midst of all the casinos and cigarette smoke I had experienced the previous day or two. I recommend Juicy’s, especially if you are looking for a burger with your family.

Another nice escape in Reno is to walk out the river trail west toward the mountains. There are rapids, geese, people walking their dogs and a couple nice parks. It is a great way to work off your burger.

Burger 4.5 Spatulas out of 5
Fries 4 spatulas

Juicy’s Giant Hamburgers
301 S. Wells Ave.
Reno, NV 89502

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Nugget Diner - Reno, NV

The Nugget Diner in Reno, Nevada represents much of what Reno is all about. From a run down strip near downtown Reno, one enters through the gaudy exterior, which portrays a nugget of gold glistening in the sun. The Metallic rendering of the shining nugget is preserved from an earlier time. After entering the door, you see a seedy bar and rows of slot machines. Nestled in the back under a little red sign that says “Diner”, awaits the Awful-Awful.

The Awful-Awful ($6.00) is a half-pound burger that sits on an onion bun. Called the Awful-Awful because it is awful big and awful good, the burger is indeed an impressive stack when you add in the lettuce, tomato, onion and the Thousand Island-style sauce. The burger sits on top of one pound of fries, seasoned and cut thin. It is rare to find both fries and burgers this good, especially at that price.
The burgers are griddled and greasy, but in the right way. The meat is seasoned with pepper and has a great flavor. American cheese blends well with the whole stack. The grilled onion bun is fantastic as it holds together the entire production.

We also had onion rings a big basket of massive Maui style beer-battered onion rings. At $6.75 they cost more than the burger and fries. They weren’t up to the high standards of the rest, but the onions were sweet and hot and the batter crunchy.

I realized I hadn’t ordered the shake and got a chocolate shake ($5.25). It was a little too Hershey’s syrup for my taste and not that thick.
As my friend Bill and I sat at the counter and took in the place, a constant flow of customers ordered their own Awful-Awful burgers. I loved the signs above the counter. “The Famous Nugget Hangover Omelet – a 4 egg omelet stuffed with chili grande and smothered in melted cheese and salsa.” My favorite was “9 out of 10 Vegetarians Don’t Eat Here.” That says it all.

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

The Nugget Diner
233 N. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89501

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Good Burger Hunting

Nicholaster posted a second Burger video about the hunting of the hamburger and its history. Very funny. See it on youtube.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Video Promotion for Hoosier Burger Boy

My friend the Nicholaster, an 8th grade student here in Menlo Park, CA is also a burger lover. He used his considerable video talents to put together a promo spot for Hoosier Burger Boy. It is a lot of fun. Check out the spot on youtube.

Monday, April 20, 2009

M&G Burgers & Beverages - Fairfax, CA

M&G Burger in Fairfax, CA is a great throwback burger place in the shadow of Mt. Tamalpais. “Mayberry on Acid” a sticker read in the window of one store. Fairfax has a high percentage of folks wearing tie die. The smell of patchouli oil wafts through the air as you walk by store after funky store.

Just up the hill after you have driven through town, there sits a small building that has housed M&G since 1962. You walk in and are transported back to the 60’s. M&G has kept up with the times by serving all organic Prather Ranch beef. Even the hot dog that my three-year-old nephew ordered was organic. I ordered a double cheeseburger ($5.75), fries ($1.90), onion rings ($2.95) and a chocolate shake.

We took a seat at a small table back by the bathrooms. There were charming old signs hanging on the wall including one right on the bathroom door saying “Full Serve”. I loved sitting among the paneled walls with my sister and nephews. Our food came neatly wrapped in white paper.
The burger looked yummy with two patties sitting on its lettuce, tomato, chopped onions and special sauce. Everything was cradled in a toasted yellow bun. The beef was tasty and smothered in American cheese. My sister and I both liked our burgers very much.

The fries were crinkle-cut and tucked into a white bag. Something about these kinds of fries always takes me back to the Penguin Point when I was kid in Indiana. It is a good memory and I enjoyed the fries. The onion rings had a similar old-time taste. They were breaded and crispy. Make sure you ask for the special honey-mustard sauce to dunk the onion rings.

The shake was just okay. It tasted like soft serve.
There was a steady stream of nice, friendly people coming through the restaurant the entire time we were there. We left and walked down the street to the Fairfax Scoop, which was very popular on this hot Saturday. Bike riders still in their spandex were gaining back the calories they had just burned. Each person ordered their ice cream and then would recommend the flavors as they left the store. I had a Mexican chocolate and Love Parade. The Mexican chocolate had cinnamon. Love Parade was a creamy vanilla with peanut butter and chocolate chunks.

We walked around town and even found a toy store with Burger Town characters in the window. I really enjoyed M&G and Fairfax. It is what Marin is all about – small towns tucked into the hills, each with their own unique character.

Burger 4 spatulas out of 5
Fries 3 spatulas
Onion Rings 3 spatulas
Shake 2.5 spatulas

M&G Burgers & Beverages
2417 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Fairfax, CA 94930

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bix - San Francisco

Bix in San Francisco has been reviewed here before. We actually went for dinner, not expecting a burger experience. But the Hors D'Oeuvres menu sported Mini Lamb Burgers with Cucumber, Dill and Harissa ($10.95). They were quote good. The meat was spicy and nicely countered by the cucumber. The little buns were spongy and perfect. I must say the food was much better than this picture I snapped with my iPhone. The light was quite dim. The Lobster Spaghetti was amazing as my main dish.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Redrum Burger - Davis, CA

Redrum Burger in Davis, CA sits catty-corner to an In-N-Out Burger just off the freeway. Redrum was there long before In-N-Out and judging from the line at lunch time on a recent Thursday, they will be there for a while longer. Originally called Murder Burger when it was established in 1986, Murder changed to Redrum (murder spelled backwards) when a contest determined the winning name in 2001. (Thanks to for the history lesson.)

The place feels a little shabby when you walk in, but it seems comfortable like an old sweatshirt. I went to the counter to choose between burgers. 1/4 lb. $4.29, 1/3 lb. $5.49, 1 lb. $11.49 or my choice 1/2 lb. $6.49. They have Buffalo too. The burger comes with cheese, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. I ordered fries ($1.49), onion rings ($4.99) and on the recommendation of the counter-minder a strawberry shake ($3.99). They have various combo specials to save you money. “Twelve minutes”, he told me when he handed me my change.

I picked a duct-taped, red vinyl bench and sat down. A steady stream of contractors, men in uniforms and students came through to order. My name was called and I retrieved a huge tray of food.
The half-pound burger is a massive affair with a big puffy bun, lot’s of veggies and a big flavorful patty cooked a nice medium. I found the burger quite tasty. The bun seemed a little dry on top but plenty spongy enough to soak up the juices, mustard and mayo without falling apart. I found myself eating around the edges where there was more cheese.

The fries were thin and had the skins on. They seemed to be fresh cut and a little under cooked. They reminded me a lot of the In-N-Out fries in flavor and consistency but not looks.

The onion rings were very impressive. Robust and thick they were covered in a crispy fried batter. I loved the thick sweet onion inside.

The shake was great, with the fresh strawberries, dancing on the tongue. It was thick and creamy.
I did not even come close to finishing all my food. But I did enjoy it. I love places like Redrum with their history and ties to the community. There was a sign on the wall, Best Burger, California Aggie, 2007, 2nd Place. I guessed number one was In-N-Out and checking the web I was right. But Redrum is probably happy with second and its hard-core fans. Long may it thumb its nose at the burger colossus across the street.

Burger 4 spatulas out of 5
Fries 3.5 spatulas
Onion Rings 5 spatulas
Strawberry Shake 4.5 spatulas

Redrum Burger
978 Olive Drive
Davis, CA 95616

Triple XXX - West Lafayette, IN

Three of my burger spies pointed out the article on about "Five tasty burger joints worth visiting". I had read about Ann's in Atlanta before, but the real eye opener was the mention of one of my old college haunts - Triple XXX, in West Lafayette, IN. They even mentioned my favorite burger. The Duane Purvis All-American featured peanut butter.

I tried ordering a version of this at Johnny Rockets one time. I added bacon. The waitress asked me three times if I was sure. I have always maintained that peanut butter should be a condiment. (photo from the Triple -XXX website.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Burger Beast - The Best Burgers in South Florida

Through the wonder of the internet I have become acquainted with the Burger Beast. A kindred spirit in all things burger, I asked him to give us an overview of his top three choices for burgers in South Florida. His reviews are below. I can’t wait to get to Miami to try them out.


SRK aka Hoosier Burger Boy suggested I might give you a heads-up as to where to get the Best Burgers in South Florida. When visiting SoFl there are a couple of burger must tries.
Located in Miami's Design District is Kingdom where you can get either a Queen (8 oz.), King (12 oz.) or Doomsday Burger (24 oz.) (See photo above.). There is also the Doomsday Challenge for whoever thinks they can finish a Doomsday as well as fries and onion rings (see photo below) in under 15 minutes. If you're able to complete the Doomsday Challenge, you get your meal for free. So let's pretend you decide on a King burger because I would be disappointed in you if you had a Queen. I would suggest you add bacon as they cook their bacon crispy, It's a great tasting burger and you also have to order the onion rings/fries combo side. Of the 2, the onion rings are better but the crinkle cuts are not bad. They both do have some good seasoning on them.
What else.....Oh place. Le Tub is located in Hollywood, Fl right on the water, as a mater of a fact, I think if you have a boat you can dock there but don't hold me to that. Le Tub is known nationally for a few reasons GQ as well as Oprah (no last name necessary) named it the Best Burger in the U.S. (See next photo.) I do want to make one important suggestion if you decide to go to Le Tub. They open at Noon, try to get there as early as you can. When this place gets busy, it can take upwards of an hour to get your burger. Now I'm not saying it's not worth the wait, it is but I thought you should know. I love the Le Tub burger (13 oz.) and it definitely should be up there in some sort of Burger Hall of Fame. They serve steak fries (fried in peanut oil) at Le Tub, which were pretty good (but not homemade).
Now, Kingdom and Le Tub have 1 thing in common with my 3rd choice, the flavor of their burgers is reminiscent of Keg South's burgers. I've been going to Keg South for well over 10 years and when asked where is the best burger in Miami, my reply is always "Keg South" There are a couple of Keg South locations in South Florida and for some reason they are not affiliated with one another. The Kendall location is where my burger heart has been for years but lately I've been going to the location on South Dixie Highway aka US1. Both locations have the same amazing burger (in either 1/3 lb. or 1/2 lb. sizes). This is where my burger obsession comes from and you must definitely check this place out. Keg South also serves awesome fresh cut fries; one order is enough for two people. When in South Florida, Kingdom, Le Tub and Keg South are 3 must stops but it doesn't end there. You must also try a Frita better known as a Cuban Hamburger but I'll leave that for another post.


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

Le Tub

Burger 5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 4 spatulas

Keg South (photo below)

Burger 5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 5 spatulas


6708 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Fl
Hours: Mon-Thu 4pm- Midnight, Fri 11:30 AM-2Am, Sat-Sun 11AM-2AM

Le Tub
1100 N Ocean Drive, Hollywood, Fl
Hours: Noon-4AM 365 Days A Year

Keg South
10417 S. Dixie Hwy, Miami, Fl
Hours: Mon-Sat 11AM-1AM, Sun 12PM-12AM

Local Burger and Fries

Local Burger and Fries continues a trend I see of hamburgers getting more green. Or at least trying to be healthier and have less impact on the planet. An article in today's New York Times, features the Northampton, MA restaurant and talks about how they try to use locally sourced, humanely raised beef. Apparently it tastes good too.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Velvet Grill & Creamery - Modesto, CA

Velvet Grill & Creamery in Modesto, CA is a friendly, cozy place for a burger. Make sure you get the sweet potato fries. I wasn’t going to and the server brought them anyway. It was a fine treat.

In the middle of the tree-lined streets of Modesto, the Velvet, sits invitingly. I wandered in through the glass block entrance at noon on a Saturday. The place was about half full. I was greeted warmly and led across the carpeted floor to a teal-colored corner booth. I had a nice view of the Breakfast At Tiffany’s poster and the other memorabilia on the wall.

At the suggestion of my server, I ordered the avocado & bacon cheddar burger with fries ($8.99). They were also nice enough to put some onion rings on there for me. The rings are normally $5.99 by themselves. She tried to convince me to take the sweet potato fries, but I wanted to review the regular fries as I always do. I also ordered a Chocolate Shake ($4.25) from their extensive dessert menu. In my experience, any place with “Creamery” in the name usually has a good shake. No exception here. It came in a parfait glass with whip cream. It was cold, creamy and smooth. The chocolate even seemed to have a faint hint of fruit.

The burger came extremely quickly. It was an impressive stack of patty, cheddar, grilled red onion, bacon, lettuce, tomato and smashed avocado on a pillow of white toasted bun. Everything was wrapped tightly in white paper to hold it together. The fries and onion rings were crowded onto the plate with ranch dressing.

The burger was very tasty, I think I would put a little less avocado on it as it overwhelmed everything else a little. The bacon was thick and firm without being chewy. The burger patty itself was tasty like I used to get at the Penguin Point drive in back in Indiana.

The fries were forgettable medium thick and nothing special. The onion rings fared better. They were battered and crisp and tasted good dunked in the ranch. About the time I was regretting not getting the sweet potato fries, the server brought me a plate. “I think you should try these.” She said.

They were really tasty. Cut very thin about the size of a wide noodle, maybe 1/8 inch by 1/2 inch. They were crisp and did not sag when you picked them up – not even the ones that were four inches long. They were sweet, but a little spicy. The chipotle ranch dressing was a perfect compliment. I ate the whole plate, never looking at the potato fries again. I felt right at home at the Velvet Grill & Creamery. Next time I am in Modesto, I am going in the morning. The breakfast menu looked very good.

Burger 3.5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 2.5 spatulas
Onion Rings 4 spatulas
Shake 4.5 spatulas
Sweet Potato Fries 5 spatulas

Velvet Grill & Creamery
2204 McHenry Ave.
Modesto, CA 95350

Scrambl'z Diner - Morgan Hill, CA

Scrambl’z in Morgan Hill is a 50s style diner with yellow tables and black and white checkerboard design. It is a happy clean place with cheerful servers and a fun family atmosphere. I was attracted by the “burgers” signed prominently featured on the outside.

I visited on a Friday at lunch. The place was about half full. I ordered up a Bacon Cheeseburger with fries ($8.99), onion rings ($6.99) and a chocolate shake ($3.99).

The onion rings came first - a big pile of crispy battered rings accompanied by ranch dressing. They were hot and tasty and a good appetizer. The shake soon arrived. It was impressively displayed in a plastic mug with prominent swirls of chocolate syrup. It was cold, smooth, thick and tasty.

Finally the burger. The bun looked fresh baked and was nicely toasted. Two small patties with lots of cheese melted around them had two strips of bacon on top. Lettuce, onion and tomato were on the side. I thought the beef was a little overcooked. The burger was serviceable but unimpressive. I will go with my usual comment that it is still better than most fast food chains just by the fact that it is cooked fresh and hot and delivered to you right after it leaves the griddle. The fries were thin slices a little undercooked and not very tasty.
I guess overall, I would have wanted the burger to be a little more creative and more attention paid to the beef. But the restaurant itself was a nice place to have lunch and the people were very friendly. Get the onion rings for sure!

Burger 3 spatulas out of 5
Fries 2 spatulas
Onion Rings 3.5 spatulas
Shake 3.5 spatulas

775 E. Dunne Ave.
Morgan Hill, CA

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Palo Alto Creamery - Palo Alto, CA

The Palo Alto Creamery in Palo Alto, California is one of my favorite places for lunch or breakfast. They also make one of the best burgers in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have been going to the "Creamery" for years. It used to be called the Peninsula Creamery but they split a few years back from the original Peninsula Creamery and changed the name. The sign out front says Peninsula Fountain and Grill. Everyone I know just calls it the Creamery.

Inside are vinyl booths remodeled a few years ago. The wood paneling on the walls and the old jukebox hark back to the pre-remodel days. I like to sit at the counter when I am there by myself and read the NY Times that one can pick up at nearby Mac's Smoke Shop. Recently, I ordered up the California Burger ($10.95). It is made from 1/3 pound of fresh hormone free, natural certified angus. The sesame bun is baked on premises in their excellent bakery. Also on the burger were avocado, Hobb's Bacon, Jack Cheese and grilled onions. No condiments were needed as the flavors all worked together perfectly with the medium cooked and flavorful beef. I don't think a burger can taste much better.
The burger comes with very thick cut fries that are cut on site. This day they were dark brown and looked overcooked, but they tasted great. I also ordered the onion rings ($7.50). Also cut fresh at the restaurant, a thick ring of sweet onion is breaded and cooked crisp. They are piled high on a plate that should be shared among 4 or 5 diners. Dunk them in the ranch dressing for full effect.

The chocolate shake was dynamite. It is made and served in a big metal cup combining hand scooped ice cream and milk. It was creamy and thick and cold. There are many flavors of ice cream one can try. People stop in to the Creamery just for the shakes.

Other favorites for me are the albacore tuna melt in sourdough ($9.95) with cole slaw. On weekends they have an eggs benedict ($12.50) that no one can beat. Get the hash browns with that one. I can also recommend the Fountain Burger that I reviewed previously at the Stanford store. But if you are only in town once, go to the downtown Palo Alto location. It is cozier and has more tradition. The service is friendly, the place is lively and welcoming and the food is fresh and tasty.

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

Palo Alto Creamery
566 Emerson St.
Palo Alto, CA 94301