901 4th Ave., San Diego CA 92101 (map); 619-696-8888; thelincolnroomsd.com Cooking method: Grilled Short Order: A tasty burger for the price, during Happy Hour Want Fries With That? Skip 'em. The burger comes a la carte and the fries aren't worth the extra expense Price: Angus burger, $5 (+$1 for cheese); turkey burger, $7.95; fries, $3.95 Notes: Happy hour is 3-7 p.m. daily, and all night on Wednesday
Happy Hour is the best time to be in the Gaslamp Quarter. The high concentration of bars and restaurants means lots of options, and the stiff competition keeps prices low enough to imbibe on a budget. One of the smartest spots to eat during Happy Hour is The Lincoln Room, where you can get a variety of food items for $5, like mussels, mac and cheese, deviled eggs, or a 1/3-pound Angus beef burger. On the regular menu, there's also a 1/3-pound turkey burger, topped with avocado and pepper jack cheese, so I did the only reasonable thing: I ordered both of them, plus a side of fries.
In the middle of a crazy Philadelphia spring weekend that involved the Broad Street Run, Philadelphia Sandwich Experiment, First Friday, and several major sporting events, was the Philly Burger Brawl, an annual competition at the Fleischer Art Memorial that brought out 23 local restaurants to battle it out for the title of best burger and raise money for Meredith Elementary School.
There were many pleasant surprises and a few disappointments. Overall it really came down to execution and who was best prepared for cooking outside on a charcoal grill with hundreds of people descending on them at the same time. The best burgers were cooked to order, literally right off the grill and into my hands, while the stalls that were sandbagging and plating 30 burgers at a time ended up with wilted lettuce, soggy buns, and dried out patties. Some of the chefs seemed like they were really there to compete, with full crews painstakingly topping each burger beautifully, while others showed up mostly to help out the charity—which raised a whopping $65,000.
2044 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles CA 90027 (map); 323-913-0478; communitylosfeliz.com Cooking Method: Griddled Short Order: A new restaurant from a catering team falls flat with its ordinary burger Want Fries with That? Nope; these seasoned spuds do argue for the side salad Prices: Beef Burger (w/fries), $11
Less than two years ago, I discussed the hopes that I held out for Papa's Place, a new neighborhood sandwich spot on Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz. It was a decided disappointment, especially when it came to their burger.
Apparently, the rest of the neighborhood agreed; Papa's is gone, and in its place has opened Community, the freshman restaurant effort of the established catering firm Epicurean Umbrella. The partners, chef Al Gordon and marketing/promotion specialist Jennyfer Rodgers, have built a reliable business of catering and consultation. Now they've opened what they're calling their "flagship storefront for freelance food." Really, it's just a sandwich shop like Papa's.
While they've changed the signage and stripped down the aesthetic, the concept is basically the same; they've even kept some of Papa's menu items in place. Community is an attempt to add a (a sorely needed) go-to sandwich and comfort food destination to the Hillhurst strip. They deal in the usual suspects: turkey clubs, Reubens, and grilled cheeses. Of course, they wouldn't warrant attention here if their menu omitted my usual: a burger. I stopped by for lunch the other day and grabbed one with crossed fingers.
To celebrate National Burger Month, we're teaming up with famed New York City meat purveyor (and current stars of Food Network's Meat Men) Pat LaFrieda to give away a case of "AHT blend" burger patties (24 per case) each week for the next four weeks. Patties will be shipped fresh anywhere in the U.S. (sorry, international readers!), perfect for throwing a giant burger party or for cooking burger-centric meals at home. To enter this week's contest, just describe your ideal burger in the comments section below.
Today Shake Shack announced they'll be opening in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, at 33 Boylston Street in mid-2013 (exact date TBD). From their press release:
Shake Shack's first-ever Boston location will sit along bustling U.S. Route 9 at 33 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill. The new location will be situated among one of the region's premier shopping destinations, which is currently being revitalized with a new village-like streetscape complete with tree-shaded pedestrian walkways and outdoor dining.
"With its proximity to Boston College, Chestnut Hill is a thriving community to bring Shake Shack," said Randy Garutti, Shake Shack CEO. "We're thrilled to make Boston our new home, and we look forward to bringing Shake Shack to other compelling sites in great neighborhoods in the Boston area."
Is President Obama sending the wrong message whenever he eats unhealthful food on camera, such as a hamburger or hot dog? Washington, DC-based organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) says yes, and it's raising awareness about the issue. From USA Today:
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington-based group, plans to file a petition Thursday calling for "an executive order banning staged official photo ops that depict the president, the first family, the vice president, and members of the president's cabinet with unhealthful foods including processed meats that can cause cancer and obesity."
865 North Main Street, Alpharetta GA 30004 (map); 678-339-3888; laparrilla.com Cooking Method: Grilled Short Order: Your typical Mexican restaurant—great for tacos, burritos, fajitas, and margaritas...but not for burgers Want Fries with That? No; stick with a more appropriate side like chips and salsa Price: Mexican Cheeseburger, $7.99
Why is your favorite Mexican joint your favorite? Is it the potency of the margaritas? The guacamole with the just-right consistency and texture? The saltiness of the tortilla chips or the frequency with which they're replenished? The fact that it's tantalizingly near your home or office? Lots of things can make that Mexican dive in the local strip mall a regular hang for you—but chances are, their cheeseburger ain't on that list. Hell, most Mexican restaurants don't even serve a cheeseburger, save for the obligatory ninos version.
But I had heard whispers of a regional mini-chain whose burger was described as really good. Not just "good for a Mexican place," but "really good, period." And although I usually view a queso-drenched chimichanga or a platter of blackened fish tacos as a welcome change of pace from my hamburger habit, I'm helplessly intrigued by the idea of discovering a hidden gem in the unlikeliest of spots. La Parrilla may translate to "the grill," but that doesn't mean everything they cook on it there is worth your hard-earned pesos.
At La Parrilla's 17 locations—spreading from ITP ("inside the perimeter" that encircles Atlanta proper) all the way to Dothan (across the border in Alabama) and Savannah—the Mexican Cheeseburger appears on the "American Fusion" portion of the menu. That's awfully high-falutin' language for a four-item list that also includes a chicken sandwich, a tortilla-based pizza, and wings. It's described thusly: "Delicious Mexican burger topped with lettuce, avocado, jalapeños, bacon, and yellow American cheese." Throwaway adjective-starting-with-D aside, that's a fine start to burger goodness in any language.
This month's Travel + Leisure features a list of America's 20 best burger cities as ranked by their readers from a list of 35 major cities—that is, it's not exactly a definitive list. (T+L made a list last year, too.) In case you don't feel like clicking through the slideshow, here are the rankings:
I'll point out that the article starts off with this gem of a quote:
How much should you pay for a great hamburger?
"The best ones fall between $10 and $20," says burger enthusiast Keith Flanagan, who's also an account executive at a New York City public relations firm. "Anything less should make a foodie question the quality, and anything more should make a foodie question the restaurant's hubris."