San Diego: Delux's Burgers (and Burger Dogs) Mostly Hit the Mark
943 Orange Ave, Coronado CA 92118 (map); 619-319-5338; deluxdogs.com
Cooking method: Griddled
Short Order: Classic cheeseburgers served on brioche or hot dog buns that hit the mark on most points but could use more char
Want Fries With That? Get the 50/50 tots instead (half sweet potato, half regular)
Price: Crown City Burger, $5.99; Burger Dog, $5.99; 50/50 Potato Tots, $2.99
In Coronado, Delux Dogs specializes in tricked out hot dogs with regional (and sandwich) inspired toppings, like The Border Town, a TJ-style dog wrapped in bacon with nacho cheese, hot sauce, guacamole, salsa, and crema; The Tokyo, a Teriyaki-glazed, seaweed and sesame-topped dog that's the closest thing you'll get to Japadog in SD; and my personal favorite, The B.L.T., with crumbled bacon, lettuce, tomato, and Japanese mayo. If you want your beef in burger (not frankfurter) form, you've got two choices: a classic cheeseburger or a Burger Dog.
I was psyched to see another operator offering something as delightfully kooky as the Wiener Burger at Dog House Diner in Encinitas, but it wasn't to be. The Burger Dog ($5.99) isn't a burger in the shape of a hot dog—it's a cheese-topped patty cut in half and stuffed into a hot dog bun. Still, it, and the traditional cheeseburger ($5.99), are worth trying.
Burgers at Delux hit the mark more than they miss it: toppings are fresh and well portioned, and the beef is moist, juicy, coarsely ground, cooked properly to order, and reasonably well seasoned. The only thing that's lacking is some real char. Aside from a bit of browning around the edge, there's no crust or char on the patties. They're moist, but mushy. Once assembled on a barely-toasted brioche bun (or an even softer, un-toasted hot dog bun), the lack of textural contrast becomes even more apparent as the mushy factor approaches near-total. The lettuce is this burger's only real hope for crunch, and that's just too big a burden to place on a few leaves of iceberg.
With their top-notch veggies, tasty buns, and well-seasoned beef, both the traditional cheeseburger and the burger dog have potential to steal business away from the Coronado Burger Lounge outpost, practically a straight shot across Orange Avenue, but not until there's more char in their game.
Until then, the best argument for choosing Delux over other nearby competitors is the wide array of sides, drinks, and desserts. For starch, I'd go with the 50/50 tots ($2.99), a basket of tater tots (half sweet potato, half regular) lightly seasoned and served with a mustard and mayo-based dipping sauce. For drinks, go with the Orange Avenue Whip ($2.75/$3.50), an Orange Julius-meets-Creamsicle drink that's both frosty and creamy. If you can take any more sugar, there are intriguing cookie and ice cream sandwiches ($4.99) for dessert, like key lime ice cream squished between two coconut oatmeal cookies. For my money, they're a better option than a scoop at Mootime Creamery, the Island's main ice cream shop.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax