887 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta GA 30318 (Map); 404-815-1399; bocadoatlanta.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: Swanky neighborhood hotspot cranks out a simply-made burger that blows most away
Want Fries with That? The standard fries are excellent; don't bother with the overdone garlic herbed variety
Price: Bocado Double Stack, $8.75
First things first: Bocado is not a burger joint. The industrial-snazzy restaurant in Atlanta's up-and-booming Westside district wants nothing more than to be a cool and cozy neighborhood place, having made it onto most of the city's "Best Of" lists immediately upon opening in late '09.
But the thing is, there's that burger. Practically hidden on a menu of small plates and cheffy sandwiches (look for it between the "roasted cauliflower" and the "croque madame") and exceptional enough to be consistently ranked among the town's tops, the carefully-crafted Double Stack has single-handedly attracted legions of carnivores to the former woodworking shop space. Bocado may not be a burger joint per se, but they do a pretty kick-ass version that lives in some awfully rarified air in this burger-bonkers town.
Chef Todd Ginsberg has created a burger that's remarkable in its simplicity, at least at first glance: two thin patties, each dressed with American cheese, stacked and topped with house-made pickles, and then nestled under a bun that almost seems too big for them. You pick it up; it's not a heavy burger, or even very big. Maybe your high-school Spanish comes back momentarily to remind you that bocado usually translates to something along the lines of mouthful, morsel, tidbit, or snack. Perhaps now you even fear you've been snookered- that, despite being a very photogenic burger, there's no way this one-hander is worth $8.75.
Except it so, so is. The beef—a house-ground blend of grass-fed chuck, brisket, and short rib—is bursting with flavor and juiciness, despite being cooked until pink-less. There's noticeable crust thanks to a wonderful sear on the kitchen's griddle. The cheese hugs each patty tightly with a superb melt job. The pickles provide a nice bit of tang without being overly salty, and I'm not even a pickle fan. A careful study of the cross-section even shows what looks to be a tiny bit of unannounced mayo dripping from amid the beef. The bun alone is a work of art, studded with sesame seeds, buttered, and griddled. It makes me a little bit tingly when a restaurant pays this much attention to every single ingredient and element of a dish. It's what elevates the Bocado Double Stack from a no-frills burger to a sublime bit of heaven in your hands.
I wish I could say the same for my fries. The regular fries, actually, are very, very good—deep golden brown, house-cut, and seasoned just so. I, however, got talked into the garlic herbed variety. They sound delightful: tossed in herb-garlic butter, topped with fresh parsley and minced garlic, piled high with house-made ranch dressing on the side, all for just a dollar more. Maybe I thought that with a fairly plain-sounding burger, the extra pizzazz on the fries would be a needed accoutrement. Instead, I found them to be a case of much too much—too much garlic, buried under too much parsley. It's a shame that these overdone fries don't live up to the simple excellence of the burger; save the buck and stick with the standard.
Atlanta burgermeisters invariably mention Bocado's Double Stack within the same breath as the similarly-styled and world famous burger served just three miles away at Holeman & Finch Public House. (Bocado even sources their buns from the aforementioned's H&F Bread Co.—but so do dozens of other local kitchens.) Bocado's burger is pegged by most to be just as tasty ... just without the clamor and hype of being one of only 24 available per night when the bullhorn goes off at 10 p.m. sharp. Yes, Bocado's Double Stack is waiting for you for lunch or dinner—and even in multiples of three. If you're feeling more-than-a-mouthful hungry, you can satisfy your inner glutton with a trio of Double Stacks on a single platter. It's not on the menu, so order it by its secret codename. It's called The Wimpy Plate.
Don't tell me Bocado isn't a burger joint. They clearly speak the language.
About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and recently penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.