Coronado Brewing Company
170 Orange Ave, Coronado CA 92118 (map); 619-437-4452; coronadobrewingcompany.com
Cooking method: Grilled
Short Order: Two types of sausage burgers that strive to be tasty and unusual, but only really succeed at the second goal
Want Fries With That? The fries aren't great, but I'd still choose them over any of the other options
Price: Banh-Mi Burger, $12.50; Bratwurst Burger, $11.50
When a longtime AHT reader tipped me off to a must-try burger in Coronado, I was so intrigued, I made landing one my top priority. It wasn't a classic burger that was being hyped, but a banh mi-style burger ($12.50) made from coconut-curry sausage topped with pickled veggies, cilantro, and chili-lime aioli from Coronado Brewing Company. Closer inspection of the menu revealed that it's not their only burger made with a sausage patty. There's also a bratwurst burger topped with caramelized onions and melted Swiss cheese on a pretzel bun. I knew what I had to do.
The brew pub makes the sausage patties in-house, from scratch, and cooks them on a wickedly hot grill. They emerge striped with hash marks, flecked with char, and glistening with fat. Both have potential to be great, if unusual, burgers, if not for some pretty major missteps.
I was hoping the banh mi burger would be something like the pork meatball banh mi sandwich from Lardo, and while it did have a passing similarity in terms of seasoning and toppings, it was taken down by the chili-lime aioli. Properly prepared (and portioned) it would have been awesome, but this version was muddled, weirdly sweet, and much too heavily applied. This had two main repercussions: the pickled veggies on top were transformed into a creamy coleslaw-type topping, and any flavor the beef and pork patty brought to the party was completely washed away.
The end result was a burger that had some great textures (crunchy veggies and a patty that was both moist and nicely charred), but the only flavor that really stood out was that perplexing sauce. If you're curious about this burger and want to give it a shot, definitely get the aioli on the side.
Admittedly, I'm not big on bratwurst, so I let my brat-loving husband do the heavy lifting on the bratwurst burger ($11.50). Like the banh mi, it showed some promise. Where it was charred, the patty was tasty, but it was too heavily salted and the onions were out of control. It came without the customary spicy mustard, and the only option at the table was Dijon, which, even applied in gobs, wasn't quite doing it. The uniqueness of the pretzel bun, and the sausage burgers in general, faded after two bites.
After giving up on both burgers, I hoped the fries would fill my hunger gap, but they were the biggest bust of all. Anemic, under-cooked, unsalted, and fried in oil way past its prime, they weren't edible past a few courtesy bites. I left the same way I came in: hungry.
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 San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax