AHT: San Diego

Burger reviews in the San Diego area.

Reality Check: Tommy's Double Cheese (and Chili) Burger

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[Photographs: Above, Original Tommy's; others, Erin Jackson]

Double Chili Cheeseburgers are not a regular part of my diet. In fact, I was pretty sure I could go my whole life without braving one of these bad boys. However, after hearing a few rave reviews about Original Tommy's Double Chili Cheeseburger, I became morbidly curious. After all, if 38 percent of the SE audience said "hell yes" to the question "Do you like chili burgers?", why not give in to my basest temptations?

The glamor shot of Tommy's Double Chili Cheeseburger looks fairly appealing. In it, a reasonable amount of chili is placed on the top patty and stays well within the confines of the bun. Above and below the chili are the standard burger accoutrements.

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But the reality is quite different. Chili erupted out of the confines of the bun, obliterating the view of all other ingredients. The cross-section reveals that the burger was placed upside down on the tray, and shows how after the initial spewing of chili, not much remains on the burger.

After a few deep breaths, I heaved the burger off the tray and took a bite. The first bite was shockingly delicious. The chili, which I was expecting to be the downfall of a perfectly decent (albeit fast food) burger actually transformed it from something ordinary to something unique (and I dare say, special). The flavor of the chili, along with the pickle and the cheese, dominated the burger, while the beef and the rest of the toppings played a more textural role.

That being said, the chili was nothing like I expected. Instead of being rich, hearty, and generously seasoned, it was strangely mild, and tasted more like a paste made of re-fried beans and finely-ground beef than any chili I'd ever tasted.

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Then came the second-fourth bites, which caused my initial elation to nose-dive into regret as my stomach registered the full assault. I couldn't go any further than halfway, which, in retrospect was probably still too far. What started as a burger that I deemed "actually good" (emphasis on the "actually"), quickly turned into something that haunted me for the rest of the day.

Original Tommy's may be "a Southern California tradition", but for me, it's strictly once in a lifetime.

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