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Request for comments: Hamburger Diaries

Monday, 31 May, 2010

The humble Hamburger is the universal peasant food of my home continent. It has been served with outrageous pretention and confounding austerity. The nature of its preparation, toppings, the bread upon which it is served, varies from region to region and is often a novel, “mind opening” experience for the traveller. The Hamburger is comfort, warmth, a humble satisfaction and associated with so many habits and traditions many reasonable people believe nothing could be said about it.

I believe differently. 

I am seriously considering an adjunct to this site in which I would offer personal reviews and insight, offered in my trademark obsessive style, on the Hamburger as served in readily accessible restaurants, diners, counters and so forth. Before I commence, I intend to lay out rules of a kind which shall soon become inconvenient.

  • All establishments reviewed shall be oriented around the service of traditional American-style Hamburger sandwiches. No incidental hamburgers on the menu of a fish shop, Mexican restaurant, &c. will be considered. The allegedly legendary burger from full-menu restaurants shall fall under the same lack of consideration. Exceptions may be made if the sandwich is one which has been widely copied, for example the Big Boy.
  • The focus will be upon beef-based sandwiches. This shall not be a hard-and-fast rule.
  • Conscientiously pretentious burgers shall not be considered, buffalo sliders for example. The assesment of  conscientiously pretentious shall be at angrystan’s sole discretion.
  • No chains with a presence in most of the continental United States, although by this rule I should include Jack in the Box and Wendy’s. A&W and Carl’s Jr./Hardees are sufficiently novel they remain under consideration.
  • No table-service chains. Fuddruckers, Steak’N’Shake, Red Robin, &c. are exempt for this reason.
  • No neighborhood bars which happen to serve burgers. For this reason Casino El Camino is on the fence. I also aspire to promote discussion outside Central Texas.
  • Guest editorials may be considered. Please keep in mind I am a total asshole with editing and style.
  • The review shall focus upon the signature sandwich, if any. The order shall be placed without customization of any kind.
  • I am considering eliminating stand-alone establishments marked with an asterisk below for the same reason bar and grills are out of consideration.
  • No restaurant with nothing but scathing reviews on the Google. These are removed.

Established list:

  • A&W (under consideration)
  • Burger-Tex*
  • Carl’s Jr. (under consideration)
  • Casino El Camino (under consideration)
  • Dan’s Hamburgers
  • Elevation Burger
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries
  • Fran’s Hamburgers
  • Gabbi’s Burgers and Dogs*
  • Hill-bert’s Burgers
  • Hut’s Hamburgers*
  • Hat Creek Burger Co.
  • In-N-Out Burger, (Garland Texas, under consideration)
  • Mighty Fine Burgers
  • Nau’s Enfield Drug‎*
  • P. Terry’s Burger Stand
  • Sandy’s Hamburgers (no known relation to the defunct chain, although they use the logotype)
  • Sonic Drive-In (under consideration)
  • Short Stop, both North and South which are separate companies with presence in Austin
  • Time Out for Burgers*
  • Top Notch*
  • Terra Burger
  • Your Mom’s Burger Bar*
  • Whataburger
  • Wimpy Burger (Waco Texas, under consideration)

Although Whataburger and Top Notch have entered Hollywood lore, I assure you they are quite real. Elevation, Hill-bert’s, Hat Creek, Time Out, Terra Burger and Your Mom’s will be new experiences. Others I have not visited in a very long time.

Definition of quality:

  • Aesthetics of the building and furniture itself. That is, is it functional, appropriate and reasonably clean? Music, TV? Points are lost for the mere presence of television or any politically-oriented entertainment without regard to the orientation.
  • Staffing. Appropriate to handle demand at that moment? Efficient? Efficacy is far more important than fake smiles and phony “Sirs”. Does drama ever erupt where we the civilians can see it?
  • Service. When I arrive or after the order, do I know what to do? Wait time both before and after the order.
  • Practical quality. Buns toasted or steamed? Do not serve angrystan a burger with cold cheese. If it used to walk or derives from something with a pulse, it must be hot. Otherwise it should be cool, but never cold.
  • Flavor of the provided patty. This is not critical, but important.
  • Bread variations. May I choose the bread? May it be deleted? What varieties are available?
  • Sides. Fries, style, basic quality including taste as served, and heat retention. Are onion rings available? Additional points shall be awarded for other traditional sides available. Points may be removed for pandering to health. We’re not here for health.
  • Beverages: Acesulfame-potassium-sweetened beverages on the fountain? Diet on the fountain beyond cola? Coffee? Tea? Proper iced coffee? Unsweetened iced tea available? Shakes or machine shakes? Novel beverages? Juice?
  • Accessibility: Into the restaurant itself, the path from the restaurant to the street and navigating the grounds by foot or automobile.

After laying out all this, I ask you to review the list and please add your favorite traditional American-style Hamburger sandwich if I have missed it.

  1. Graeme permalink
    Monday, 31 May, 2010 23:58

    I’m into it. Go, man! Go!

    All across the country I am compelled to try regional fast food chains, from Whataburger to Lion’s Choice, I’ve been there & I will probably eat there again!


    • Tuesday, 1 June, 2010 1:25

      and I forgot all about Dirty Martin’s Kumbak Place, even if it is a stand-alone joint.

      Who has eaten at Arctic Circle, home of Fry Sauce? I may not get out there any time … at all.



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