Omigosh! I had no idea that today was National Hamburger Day until I received an email from Groupon. If I had known this post would’ve have had more planning, so I hope you’ll forgive that’s it’s been thrown together quickly.
Here’s why I’m blogging about this. Seeking the perfect burger is a family tradition… or maybe it’s a quest. Either way, whenever we vacation or visit a new city, we google the best burger spots ahead of time and plan our trip accordingly. Our rating system is very informal and we don’t have an across-the-board agreement, but we do share some favorites. In no particular order, here they are.
Le Tub (Dania Beach, Florida) – Okay, see the burger pictured at the top of the blog. That’s from Le Tub. This place also has a terrific atmosphere. It’s situated on the Intercoastal Waterway, most of the tables are outside, and the décor is a hodgepodge of crazy stuff, including tables built around the trees or on bath tubs. And remember how I said no particular order? Well, I lied. This is my favorite burger. It’s delicious and enormous. It’s at least two meals for me.
Mr. Bartley’s (Cambridge, MA) – We saw this place featured on the Food Network and added it to our itinerary during a vacation in Boston a couple years ago. It’s located across from Harvard, and very popular. Plan on lining up outside the tiny restaurant where they’ll take your order. This system means you’ll get your burger quickly once you’re finally seated. This is the favorite of at least two family members.
Enter an alternate reality when you step behind the curtain at the burger joint.
burger joint @ Le Parker Meridian Hotel (NYC) – This spot wins hands down for best atmosphere and they serve a good burger, too. So… to the atmosphere. The hotel is very elegant with marble floors and chandeliers and when we visited we looked like typical tourists in shorts and comfy clothes. A bell captain raised one eyebrow (because we obviously didn’t belong), and then pointed arm outstretched, refusing to look at it, and said in an especially snooty voice, “It’s behind the red curtain.” Behind the curtain loud music plays, a hallway is paneled, graffiti adorns the walls and you know you’ve arrived. It has a bit of a Soup Nazi feel as a sign announces if you don’t know what you want to order you’ll be sent to the back of the line. Your burger and fries will come in a brown paper bag and you’ll spend your lunch wondering how and why this place exists in such a ritzy piece of real estate.
T—Rays Burger Station (Fernandina Beach, FL) – Also receives high marks for atmosphere. It’s a funky diner built out inside an old gas station. It’s crowded, but the service is quick and on the day we were there the owner stopped by to talk with us.
The Apple Pan (LA) – Their hickory burger has a unique flavor and the atmosphere is interesting. You line up along the wall and wait for a spot at the counter. We were blessed with a minor miracle and were able to get five seats together. My biggest regret is that I didn’t have room for a piece of pie. Maybe on another visit.
Burgermeister (San Francisco) – Noteworthy as the only “chain” restaurant on our list. We literally stumbled across it during a long walk when our cable car broke down on the way to the Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s a top pick of our most finicky burger connoisseur, and I’d have to agree that it hit the spot.
Booches (Columbia, MO) – a restaurant/pool hall combo founded in 1884 in the town where I attended college. I still remember the burgers, which are served on wax paper, and it’s been a few years. Quite a few, in fact.
Special Mention goes to…
Big Nick’s Burger & Pizza Joint (Upper West Side, NYC) – Now closed, we’d had burgers there three times and it was a family favorite. Judging from comments all over the web, quite a few others miss this restaurant that had been in business for more than fifty years.