411 Broadway, San Diego CA 92101 (map); 619-795-3800; spikeafricas.com
Cooking method: Grilled
Short Order: A tasty bacon cheeseburger that's surprisingly satisfying for a seafood restaurant
Want Fries With That? Hot, fresh, and delicious fries come standard, so yes
Price: Rogue Wave Bacon Burger, $13.75
Seafood-centric restaurants don't need to have a burger on their menu, let alone put special effort into making it better than average, but the ones that do have a special place in my fish-averse heart.
When Spike Africa's—a semi-casual seafood spot owned by the same group behind the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company—first opened, I'll admit I was skeptical. But I heard enough good things about the restaurant to believe that maybe—just maybe—the bacon cheeseburger would be as worthy of a visit as the fresh-shucked oysters, smoked seafood hush pups, and tuna poke.
Sitting tall, with glistening strips of thick-cut bacon, melted cheese, tomato, pickled onion, and lettuce, it made a great first impression. When I cut it in half—very carefully—I saw a blush of pink in the center of the Sterling Silver beef patty, and plenty of fresh-cracked black pepper on top. Though grilled a smidge past my requested medium-rare and not especially juicy, the patty had a steak-like flavor and mineral beefiness, with some crunchy char on both sides.
By itself it would have been satisfying enough, but the bacon on top really sealed the deal. Crisp (but still tender), and glistening with fat, it took the burger to new levels of deliciousness that the beef couldn't reach alone.
The soft, squishy bun was tasty, as were the toppings, but the thick slices of tomato and the bacon made for a precariously stacked burger. I managed ok for the first half, but needed to fork and knife the remaining half since the toppings had shifted.
Horseradish mayo is the de facto spread, but seeing as there were some structural issues and topping slippage, you might want to get it on the side. That genius move will also give you the option of dipping your fries in the excess. I can't stand the stuff, so I asked for some red pepper remoulade instead, and my server happily obliged.
Fries come standard with the burger, and they're awesome. Light, crisp, and bursting with warm potato fluff, they're everything you want in a french fry and generously portioned.
Spike Africa's isn't quite up there with my favorite burger places downtown, but it's a great option for a beef lover dining with a group of seafood fanatics. And for that, I thank them.