475 Hotel Cir S, San Diego CA 92108 (map); 619-298-6515; bunzsd.com
Short Order: Semi-confused burger featuring beef patty topped with a turkey dinner
Want Fries With That? Yes, try the sweet potato fries with pumpkin chipotle aioli, also a limited-time special
Price: Thanksgiving burger, $9; sweet potato fries, $4; pumpkin pie shake, $5
Turkey burgers topped with all of the Thanksgiving trimmings are nothing new (Slater's 50/50 had one last year), but Bunz's spin on the seasonal special is something I've never seen before. For the week leading up to Thanksgiving, the burger spot tucked away in Hotel Circle is serving up 1/3-pound beef patties topped with a scaled down turkey dinner (stuffing, gravy, cranberry relish, and roast turkey). They've also got sweet potato fries with pumpkin chipotle aioli and a pumpkin shake.
Fusing a burger with a turkey dinner is a bold move, but (just like you're probably imagining) it doesn't really work. Topping the seasoned beef patty with roast turkey is like setting up a cage match between the two proteins. The beef wins, while the bird gets lost in the stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. It's a sandwich with an identity crisis that would be much tastier as either a straight-up Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, or a burger with turkey trimmings. Since Bunz has turkey patties on site (and offers them as a substitution for beef), you could potentially opt for a double turkey sandwich instead of the standard presentation.
The execution needed some tweaks, too. The tart cranberry relish was excellent and I'd gladly smother a turkey burger with it, but the stuffing and gravy became a pulpy, soggy mess in minutes. Two bites in, the entire turkey dinner portion tasted like a uniform layer of mush. The patty was also on the dry side, even when cooked to medium rare.
Sweet potato fries with pumpkin chipotle aioli ($4) are an optional side (and another limited-time special that coincides with the burger). The thin-cut fries were decent but tasted fairly bland and could use some salt. And while the aioli sounded delicious in theory, in reality it had a strange pickle-like undertone that threw me off. I'll give the spuds a conditional pass because you might think otherwise.
One Thanksgiving special that went completely right was the pumpkin pie shake ($5)—vanilla ice cream buzzed up with pumpkin purée, topped with whipped cream and pie spice. The Thanksgiving burger is most suitable as a once-a-year experiment (if that), but the shake is something I'd order every time.