Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hopdoddy - Austin, TX

At Hopdoddy in Austin, TX, the line to get into the restaurant and so you could get in line again was 15 deep at 6:45 on a 95 degree Tuesday evening. And it didn’t move fast   A diverse crew of vacationing families with kids, tattooed muscle-bound twenty-somethings, and every other demographic you can think of waited patiently for their burger fix. Jack White's latest song blared from the speakers, so either Hopdaddy is pretty hip or Jack White is not. 

Living up to its name, Hopdaddy features local microbrews. I had a Live Oak Pilz ($5) while I waited. After 30 minutes, I made it to the front to order. I ordered the Classic Burger with Bacon and Cheese ($7.50). It comes with hormone free, antibiotic free, all-natural angus beef, red leaf lettuce, white onion, beefsteak tomato and sassy sauce in addition to “classic” cheese and bacon (without the bacon and cheese the burger is $5.50). Kennebec fries are $2.25 more. The menu noted that the buns are baked on site and the fries are fresh cut. 

A young lady with butterfly wings tattooed on her back led me to my table marked with a 3, where I waited for my repast. While I waited, I surveyed the restaurant. Butcher block tables surrounded with green plastic and steel chairs sat on a concrete floor giving the place a modern feel. 

Another 10 minutes and the burger arrived on a metal baking tray. I went and fetched some chipotle ketchup for my fries. (highly recommended) The toasted bun fit the burger perfectly. Yellow cheese was melted on top of the patty, which sat on very fresh onion, tomato and lettuce. The sassy sauce was a mildly spicy mayonnaise-based sauce that tasted slightly of mustard. The burger squirted juice and was cooked a perfect medium as ordered.  The beef was tasty and mildly seasoned. The bacon was crisp and yummy. 

Fries were very crispy and fresh: the thin side off medium with skins on, they sported parsley, salt and pepper. 

Overall, despite the long wait, the burger and fries were worth it. The beer was cold and tasty. Everyone was in a good mood, including me.

Burger 5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 4.5 spatulas

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
1400 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bill's Place - San Francisco, CA

Bill's Place in San Francisco's Outer Richmond has been around 53 years. According to the menu, Don the owner, took over from the original owner, Bill and then Bill's wife and has been with the place for 43 years. the place has the feel of a local fixture. The bright red awning proclaims, "Bill's Place - Home of the Hamburger" and indeed it is.

The menu has countless burger combos named after local celebrities and local teams the Giants and 49ers. I ordered ordered the Bill's Cheeseburger #01 for $9 including fries. The burger is a 1/3 pound burger made of fresh fresh chuck ground at the restaurant, always a good sign. The also have a #2 at 3/4 pound and a #3. My wife ordered a bacon cheeseburger. My daughter a chili cheese dog. We grabbed an order of onion rings for $3.95.

The onion rings arrived almost instantly, hot crunchy and sweet. They are big and thick and taste great dunked in ranch dressing. It seems like one bite later the rest of the food arrived. I will admit it curious that the #01 comes with only one strip of bacon. The Bacon cheeseburger has three. The bacon was crisp, salty and just the right thickness. The American cheese was nicely melted. The burger is served open-faced with the tomato slice, pickle chips and pile of green-leaf lettuce on the side. The sesame bun was nicely toasted and had a smear of mayo. A big pile of fresh cut fries rode shotgun on the plate.

I found the burger cooked a perfect pink and juicy medium. The meat is flavorful, if minimally spiced. The whole concoction very enjoyable. The fries were a little soggy as fresh-cut fries often are, but they were hot and cooked correctly. They were not greasy at all.

We really enjoyed the ambiance of the place. Lively, full of people of all ages and colors. Everything is a little worn down and tired, looking all of its 53 years, but the place has a friendly, lived-in feel. The couple sitting next to me joked they had been coming there for 85 years, even though it has only been open 53. Same age as me, as a matter of fact.

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

Bill's Place 
2315 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94121