Bert's Burger Bowl
4235 North Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe NM 87501 (map); 505-982-0215; bertsusa.com
Cooking Method: Griddled.
Short Order: The regular green chile cheeseburger is beefy and nicely charred. Kobe burger gushes with beefy, fatty juices.
Want Fries with That? No thanks. Fries are fat and prematurely removed from the deep fryer.
Price: Green chile cheeseburger, 3.50; Kobe burger, 12.95
Notes: As the menu denotes, burgers take ten to twelve minutes to carefully craft and cook. Now that's my idea of fast food.
Located near the plaza area in Santa Fe, Bert's Burger Bowl has been around for more than five decades serving what is surely the best fast-food style burgers in town. I must admit, Bert's won me over even before I took my first bite. A burger place that serves gizzards and livers? Ostrich, bison, or lamb meat for patties?
Bert's Burger Bowl is the local burger joint par excellence, serving not only the standard burgers and cheeseburgers, but also the more ambitious proteins that are the provenance of fancy-pants establishments. Happily, Bert's succeeds on both fronts: The standard burgers and cheeseburgers come nicely charred with slightly chewy, spongy buns; the Kobe burger that I ate was intensely beefy and juicy, with a crispy char on the surface.
Like In-N-Out, Bert's Burger Bowl devotes as much attention to the integrity of its buns as the quality of its meat. Both In-N-Out and Bert's use a spongy bun that offers just the slightest resistance with each bite. Toasted to a dark char on the rims, the buns held up well to the meaty juices from the patties.
The patties were charred to the ideal degree on the griddle. I asked for my green chile cheeseburger medium rare; it arrived on the medium side, but stayed juicy throughout.
The Kobe beef burger came out perfectly medium rare. A well-portioned burger, almost every bite of the Kobe burger was a consummate balance of charred surface, juicy interior, and toasted bread. Both burgers came with juicy chunks of green chile—neither too mild nor spicy, the chile and the slices of cheese melded together for a complement to the beef.
At $12.95, the Kobe Burger is by far the most expensive item on the menu, and it's almost worth it for the juiciness and beefy flavor. Given that Bert's is turning out stellar burgers for $3.50 or less, the difference in price may not be justified.
In any case, I'll be back to Bert's the next time I'm in Santa Fe. I've yet to try the ostrich and the lamb burgers, or the shakes and malts, for that matter. And of course, it's always satisfying to find the kind of place that knows that leaving a little grease on the griddle goes a long way.