2255 140th Ave NE, #B, Bellevue WA 98005 (map); 425-747-7818; wibbleys.com
Cooking Method: Charbroiled
Short Order: English pub-style restaurant is a local favorite and a burger haven for those wanting a good, affordable quarter-pound burger
Want Fries with That? Fries come in half or full-sized orders, but skip fries and go for onion rings
Price: Wibbley's Gourmet Burger, $4.69; extra beef patty, +$1.49; 1/2 order fries, $1.49, full order, $2.49, onion rings, $3.29
Note: Cash or check only; restaurant has an ATM
You wouldn't expect to find an English pub-style hamburger joint along a busy street dotted with car dealerships and chain stores, but sure enough, as you drive by an old stripmall off 140th Avenue NE east of Seattle, a funny name on a sign may catch your eye: Wibbley's Burgers, a popular local lunchtime burger joint.
When you walk in the cozy and narrow space, you're immediately faced with the ordering desk framed with shelves of quirky collectibles and a view into their kitchen, sizzling with the sounds of charbroiling meat and cracking with the sounds of frying potatoes. Surrounded by dark mahogany wood, this quick-serve hamburger joint definitely feel more like an ale house, but don't try to order a pint of Guinness—they don't serve liquor.
Wibbly's burgers feature a charbroiled, quarter-pound, fresh beef patty on a large sesame seed bun, in variations like the South of the Border with green chile and pepper jack cheese, or the Century Burger with blue cheese, bacon, and sprouts. But since I've found that too many toppings overwhelm the flavor of the patty, I'd recommend the signature Wibbley's Gourmet Burger—the least fussed-over burger on the menu—served with shreds of iceberg lettuce, tomato slices, a hefty layering of pickles, and a slathering of Wibbley's dressing, a tangy mayonnaise-based sauce mixed with relish that's like tartar sauce with more vinegar. The pickles and tart sauce gives a distinctive tangy flavor and cut nicely through the richness of the beef. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper, it's got the flavor of a good classic hamburger and has a smoky bite thanks to the layer of char on the patty, but the dressing is what really heightens the burger.
By default, they cook the burgers to medium, bordering on medium well, but the meat manages to stay moist. They'll offer to cook it to the doneness you want if you're looking for a rarer burger, but they're less likely to get it right during the busy lunch rush between 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. when the kitchen is swamped.
They offer fries in half and full-sized orders, but skip the fries and get their onion rings. The onions are cut thick, dipped in a light batter, and fried perfectly to a crisp golden brown. The batter stays crisp for an impressively long time and sticks to the onion.
Having a satisfyingly classic burger with onion rings in what feels like a dark, cozy English pub isn't a bad way to take a break from the cubicle world.