Lou & Mickey's
224 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (map); 619-237-4900; louandmickeys.com
Cooking method: Grilled
Short Order: A decent burger for the price, but only if you go during happy hour
Want Fries With That? The shoestring-cut fries are perfectly executed, so yes, you do
Price: Bar Burger, $6 (during happy hour, Mon-Fri 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.); fries, $2
In downtown San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, burgers are aplenty, but if you want to score one at a discount, your best bet is during happy hour. Just about every steakhouse has a special, including Lou & Mickey's, where a basic bar burger is just $6 during happy hour (Monday to Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.). That's a solid deal at any restaurant, but it seems even sweeter at this particular steak house, where steaks start at $33 (and that's à la carte).
In my nearly three years of burger reviewing for AHT, I've hit all of the major steakhouse happy hour burger options in the Gaslamp Quarter (Fleming's, The Palm, and Morton's) and since it's impossible not to compare Lou & Mickey's to the lot, the conversation becomes not just about this burger, but how it stacks up to the competition. Based on my taste-testing, I'd put it somewhere in the middle. There were some great things about the burger, but also shortcomings. Ultimately, it's only worth having during happy hour. At full price ($16, including fries), I'd skip it.
The 1/3-pound grilled beef patty is a bit too tightly packed. I ordered mine medium-rare, and it arrived medium—something that shouldn't happen anywhere, especially at a steak house. There was a good amount of char and browning, but the patty needed more salt.
Overcooking the beef resulted in a loss of juice and moisture, but it wasn't too bad. If you like slathering your patty with ketchup and mayo, it's still a serviceable burger, but the slip-up on the grill is harder to hide when it's naked. One thing the menu doesn't mention is the smear of Thousand Island-type sauce on the top bun, so be sure to nix that if you're not a fan. The vegetable roughage was a little...well, rough. That thick slice of beefsteak tomato looks good in the photo, but it was hard to keep contained within the bun. Every bite made it jut out the back, causing me to eventually give up and take it, along with the greasy, steamed Romaine lettuce, out of the equation.
The burger comes à la carte during happy hour, so fries will set you back an additional $2. It's worth doing. The shoestring spuds are lightly salted, and perfectly executed. You're going to want some.
Ultimately, Lou & Mickey's bar burger isn't destination-worthy, but if all you're after is a decent burger served in a classy atmosphere at a steep discount, it'll do just fine.