Hash House a Go Go
3628 5th Avenue, San Diego CA 92103 (map); 6 locations in southern California; hashhouseagogo.com
Cooking method: Griddled
Short Order: Circus-big burgers that are sadly all about quantity, not quality
Want Fries With That? Definitely; the waffle fries are the best thing on the plate
Price:Stuffed burger with roast beef, mozzarella and charred tomatoes, $15
Hash House is famous for a few things: a long line at brunch time, and freakishly large portions that no one but a Sumo wrestler could finish. You hear a lot of good things about their fried chicken, eggs benny, and manhole-sized pancakes, but on the burger front, it's crickets. In a town as burger-focused as San Diego, this is a little suspect, but it's fair to assume that since burgers make up a sizeable portion of the menu offerings (six different options on the brunch and lunch menu; three on the dinner menu), this spot isn't only about brunch fare.
I've had Hash House on my radar since I started burger blogging over a year ago, but the idea of eating two half-pound patties with additional toppings stuffed between them sounded like a job for more than just one or two people—and so, I only attempted to eat it once I had assembled a team of four Serious Eaters to share the burden (and maybe, the glory). Of the three burgers available at dinnertime, we settled on the "Andy's Twisted Stuffed Burger with roasted beef, smoked mozzarella and charred tomato."
The best adjective to describe the burgers at Hash House is circus-big. With a pound of hamburger divided into two half-pound patties (plus additional meat and toppings sandwiched between them) the sideshow-sized burgers are a sight to behold—and a liability to eat. No one at our table of four even attempted to pick this beast up—it was immediately deemed a fork and knife burger, which we split four ways and ate out of casserole dishes. One bite would be bun and beef, the next pickle and roast beef, followed by a globby cheese-only mouthful. That was strike one.
Strike two? Ungodly amounts of salt, mostly in the "roasted beef" (which was more like overcooked beef brisket drenched in Worcestershire sauce). The patties were also over-salted, and despite being griddled, had no char or crust to speak of. They were cooked to an appealing medium, but the too aggressively seasoned roast beef overwhelmed any beefy flavor the patties might have had on their own, along with the cheese and roasted tomatoes.
Crisp, golden brown criss-cross fries were the highlight of the plate. For such a gigantic burger, you'd expect the portion of fries to be equally huge, but in reality, it was more like a scattering. It seems wrong to say I wanted more of anything, but in this case, more fries wouldn't be a bad thing.
Hash House is definitely a case of quantity over quality, at least when it comes to the burgers. Stick with the brunch fare or the as-big-as-your-head chicken pot pie and you'll do just fine.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best cheap and tasty eats in San Diego, including all things sweet and sugary, for her dessert blog San Diego Sugar. She also blogs for San Diego Magazine.