828 6th Avenue, San Diego CA 92101 (map); 619-702-8410; brians24.com
Cooking method: Grilled
Short Order: A BLT sandwich/burger collision that's especially tasty if you're a fan of bacon
Want Fries With That? Fried-from-frozen spuds come standard. They're nothing special, but they get the job done
Price: BeefLT, $13.99
Brian's 24 has the unique distinction of being downtown San Diego's only 24-hour restaurant. The vast menu spans from traditional (and not-so-traditional) breakfast items like Belgian waffles and s'mores hotcakes to hearty entrées, and a representative assortment of burgers.
Among the options, there's the breakfast burger (with bacon, a potato pancake, cheese, and a fried egg), along with the peanut butter burger (which the menu text assures diners is delicious), but once I saw the BeefLT ($13.99), described as "a classic BLT with a burger kicker," I couldn't resist the urge to summarily drop-kick any half-baked resolution to eat healthier in 2014 with a half-pound patty on toasted sourdough smeared with mayo and topped with six slices of bacon. Take that, "common sense."
I typically find that the standard amount of bacon (a slice or two) can overpower a beef patty, so going into this experiment I was fully aware that the flavor of the BLT/burger collision wouldn't be equally balanced between the two proteins. That's exactly what happened, and it was glorious. The stack of crisp, salty strips of crunchy bacon was the same height as the patty, making it very clear that while the bovine was an invited guest, the sandwich was very much a pig party. In most bites, it was by far the dominant ingredient, though when I tasted the beef by itself, it was well seasoned and flecked with char.
The acidity from the thick slices of tomato helped cut through all the salt and fat, but since the patty wasn't especially moist or juicy (despite being cooked to my requested medium-rare), I could have used some more mayo.
Straight-cut fries come standard with any burger. They're nothing special, but they get the job done. You can upgrade to sweet potato fries, waffle fries, or tots if that's your thing, but personally, I didn't bother with more than a handful of them, mostly because of the sheer size of the burger (which I was fully prepared to finish by myself, but could only power through half of).
Judging by my experience, Brian's 24 is a good bet if you want a burger that brings more than the standard toppings to the table. The cooked-to-order chuck patties are decent in their purest form, but not quite juicy or flavorful enough to stand up to the competition (assuming they're open when a craving hits). Where the restaurant really excels is in their over-the-top presentations where the beef is an element but not the sole focus. And while I wouldn't necessarily recommend the BeefLT as one of my top burger picks, it is a mighty fine mega bacon BLT that just happens to have a burger patty in it. If that's exactly what the restaurant was going for, they've succeeded. In spades.
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