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San Diego CA 92101
Ahhh! Beautiful Southern California! What better place to inspire a Burger Tyme guest post? Having already sampled the SoCal classic In-N-Out Burger and the gourmet up-and-comer Umami Burger as part of my travels, I decided it was time to seek out new territory for my fellow burger addicts while in San Diego to see a baseball game at Petco Park. After reviewing several San Diego “best burger” lists I decided on the one name that I saw on all of them: Hodad’s.
After the final pitch of the ballgame, I trekked through the streets of downtown San Diego to find the place, which is actually the second location of Hodad’s just opened in 2011. The original Hodad’s is over in Ocean Beach where it built quite a following. Along the way it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and named one of the five best burgers in the U.S. by CNN. But screw the history of it all and the media recognition! Can you really trust the media anyway? All I wanted to know this day was whether this was a quality Burger Tyme.
After about a 15-minute walk from Petco Park I had finally made it to this unassuming burger joint. It wasn’t much to look at from the outside, but the line of people out the door was certainly a good sign. When the hostess (perhaps too formal a term for this place, but it is the best word I can come up with) realized I was alone she invited me to have a seat at the bar. And so I grabbed a menu and claimed a stool.
The menu was pretty simple. No snobbish gourmet-style burgers here! Just the basic hamburger or cheeseburger available as a single or double patty and with or without bacon. Also basic were the prices, with the most expensive offering setting you back a scant $12.50 including a side of onion rings. The only nonstandard burgers here were the Guido burger, a pastrami burger with ketchup, pickles, swiss cheese, grilled onions, and spicy brown mustard inspired by Triple-D host Guy Fieri, and the Blue Jay burger, a bacon cheeseburger with bleu cheese and grilled onions. Neither one sounded overly appealing so I went for a classic double cheeseburger with a side of fries. I also ordered a chocolate milkshake since the only sodas they had were Pepsi products, and I don’t do second-rate sodas.
While waiting for my order I took in a bit more of my surroundings. Almost every square inch of the walls was covered with old license plates, something I have always been fascinated with, adding to the relaxed aura of the place. I laughed when I saw the California plate personalized with “EFEN SWT” and the sticker about two feet below it that said, “Never Trust the Police.” On the beverage cooler there was also a sticker for In-N-Out Burger, an ironic tribute to the SoCal icon by this hole in the wall place that claims to have the “World’s Best Burger.”
After about ten minutes of waiting my milkshake comes out and it was nearly a meal in itself! The shake came out in a 32-ounce metal cup with a huge scoop of chocolate ice cream on the top and hanging off the sides. Breaking with Burger Tyme tradition I elected to start of the shake before the burger came just so I wouldn’t have a big mess from melted ice cream. I ate the ice cream down to a safe level by which time my burger arrived, and like the shake it was much bigger than I anticipated. It is a good thing I had skipped lunch because I would need the full capacity of my stomach to ingest this burger feast.
The burger was massive with one end shoved in a paper wrapper and the other hanging out in such a way as if to say “eat me, if you dare!” The two burger patties were probably about 1/3 lb. each and resting on top of fresh sliced tomatoes and onions, pickles, and shredded lettuce, sandwiched in by a lightly toasted sesame seed bun. I used both hands to pick up this monster and attempt to fit the thing in my mouth. Upon biting into the beast I was impressed by the excellent seasoning of the beef and how well the veggies complemented the meat, especially the pickles that provided a nice crispness to each bite. The patties were cooked to perfection and quite juicy, although before I was half done with the burger the bun could not handle the juices from the burger and the condiments and became rather soggy. Perhaps a bit more toasting could have improved the bun’s performance, but otherwise this was an excellent burger indeed.
Hiding underneath the burger was a large portion of fries, which once I finished the burger I began to tackle. The fries were battered potato wedges that had a bit of thickness to them, a departure from the thinner fry cuts BurgerTyme maestro JoeMoney has expressed preference for in the past but just the way I like them. The danger with this type of cut is that it can be difficult to cook so that the inside of the fry is not mushy, but these fries were fried for just the right amount of time with a crunchy outside and a firm warm inside.
The chocolate shake was a bit too much for me and I am ashamed to admit that I was not able to finish. The shake was nice and thick, however about half the cup was still in ice cream form. I guess that is why the serve it up with a spoon instead of a straw. I would have preferred a Coke to accompany this fine burger offering and perhaps the shake as a dessert afterwards.
Is this truly the world’s best burger as the restaurateur claims? Probably not, but it is certainly in my personal top five. For you Burger Tymers from Houston, I would say this is very similar to Christian’s Tailgate, both in the style and quality of the burger and the general vibe of the establishment. A more toasted bun and leafed lettuce instead of shredded lettuce would have made the Hodad’s burger better in my opinion. Despite these minor shortcomings, if you are in the San Diego area and are looking for a unpretentious place to have an outstanding burger at a reasonable price Hodad’s should be at the top of your list.
About the Author
Harold J. Forbes, in addition to being a hardcore Burger Tymer, is an accountant and author focusing on personal finance and preparedness topics. You can learn more about Harold and his books on his Amazon author page at http://amazon.com/author/haroldforbes.
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P. Terry’s Burger Stand
Back in Austin, Texas! This is my seventh or so time to visit this city, once again, for work. I’ve been here enough that I have places that I like to go to and things that I like to do. A friend of mine, a UT alum, and an Austinite/Austonian(?) who has followed Burger Tyme since the early days, recommended that I check out P. Terry’s the last time I was here. I opted in stead to go to the highly touted Hopdoddy Burger Bar. While it was a good burger, my wallet was hurting. As burgers have been elevated and seemed to have plateaued at the ultra gourmet and costly end of the dining spectrum, it would be nice to have a good and cheap option to fall back on. So this go ’round, I decided to take the advice of a trusted local and headed to the P. Terrys on Lamar in South Austin. I arrived early for lunch on cool spring day. This location is a drive through with outside seating, so that was ideal. It was about 11:15 and there were few cars so I was able to place my order pretty quickly.
Keeping in line with Austin values, P. Terry’s emphasizes, several times with different signs, that the product here is fresh, locally grown, all natural, etc, etc. This is the same mantra that most burgers are sold upon these days and it usually translates in to a hefty bill for a single burger and fries. To my surprise, the prices were more reminiscent of the In-N-Out menu. A burger, $2, double with cheese $3.50, burger fries shake $6.75. Awesome! If this were just half decent for the price I would be excited.
Stepping up the window, I placed a basic order for a double with cheese, fries and a chocolate shake. Given the short line when I arrived (which was steadily increasing), my order was ready for pickup in a few short minutes. I was handed a white bag and my milkshake. I went over to the seating area and emptied the bag like a kid on Christmas. The burger was wrapped tight in paper, as was the large portion of super thin cut fries.
The burger is a throw back to basic burger joints. Thin patties, griddle fried, with cheese put on at the end. The bun is nothing fancy but soft and fresh. The veggies were basic but fresh as well and added some moisture that thin pattied burgers usually need. My first bite revealed a more seasoned patty than I was expecting. It was just salty enough but also had a nice bite of pepper. The double patty was the perfect amount of beefiness. I liked the fresh cheese slices but it could have been melted a little longer on the patty, but hey, this is fresh fast food.
The fries were excellent when you compare the price for how much and what your get. They were fresh cut and very thin, somewhere between 1/4″ to 1/8″. The were not double fried crispy, but they had a nice crisp that didn’t turn soggy and. The milkshake was also good, but definitely had they Hershey syrup flavor… I’m sure it was organic though.
P. Terry’s was a great recommendation! The food scene, and more specifically the burger scene in Austin is great, and can get quite pricey. Its great to know that there is a cheap and quick option for a good burger when I don’t have time to dress up for a Burger Tyme. It was so good in fact, that a few weeks later, I took my wife there after a day trip to the visit a few of the state parks outside of Austin. We were tired, we were dirty, and we wanted something quick and substantial. P Terry’s fit the bill perfectly… It also helps that just around the corner is Gourdough’s…. but this is not Doughnut Tyme…..
Flip ‘n Patties
Houston Food Truck
Keeping with the same theme as the last post which featured a burger from Peru where my brother is living as a missionary, my most recent burger experience was motivated by my love of all things Philippines, where I lived for two years also as a missionary. When I heard that there was a Filipino Burger Truck driving around Houston, I had to try it. Some people may ask themselves “Do they even have burgers in the Philippines?”, the answer is YES! <historylesson>After the influx of GIs leading up to and after WWII, burgers became a common and delicious staple that has remained for decades. </historylesson>
Back to the point, Filipino burgers in Houston, gotta go. So after some convincing, my wife joined me and we headed to the local drinkery where Flip ‘n Patties was set up for the evening. Upon our arrival I noticed immediately the crowd of people speaking Tagalog gathered around the truck eating some pretty good looking food. I knew I had scored a jackpot. In true Philippine fashion, they have a karaoke machine built in to the truck. Sadly, no one was singing. I apporached the window and when greeted, I asked if anyone spoke Visayan (cebuano) which is the language I learned while living there. Yet again, no one outside of the few islands I lived on speaks it. Oh well, we all speak the Universal language of food.
I place my order for the Flip ‘n Patties burger which is served on a steamed bun and has cheese, bacon, and a fried portabello patty along with the beef patty. The menu also has several Filipino items such as siopao, lumpia, garlic rice, and halo-halo along with other dishes that are more Philippine inspired. I couldn’t resist so, along with the burger I ordered a sampling of the Chicken PuPu, the Mayo fries, the garlic rice, and lumpia…. My mouth is watering as I type this. We went inside, grabbed a table and some soft drinks, and anxiously waited. After about 10 minutes my name was called and the feast was handed through the small window.
The spread looked great, the smells were amazing, and I exclaimed “Ka-on ta!”. The burger on a steam bun concept seemed to me strange in concept but after taking a bite, it works. The steam bun texture makes the burger a very cohesive unit. It combined with the crunchy, earthy, meatiness of the portabello, the cheesy, meatiness of the patty, and the salty, chew of the bacon to make a very tasty burger. Would I say the flavors invoked memories of Island and coconut trees? Well, no, but so what. There were vegetables on this burger but I honestly didn’t notice. Now, to the mayo fries…. Mayonnaise? on Fries? these fries were thick cut and appeared to be cooked a little too long. BUT, once I tried them. They were perfect! Each larger than usual fry covered in their sweet house made mayo was like a mini meal unto itself. I loved them. Everything else was great too. The chicken PuPu ( I like to think it is pronounce fu-fu) was a unique twist on fried chicken bits. The lumpia was probably the most authentic thing I sampled. Unfortunately they ran out of Halo Halo before I was done, so I didn’t get to relive that sweet, icy treat.
I think it is pretty clear that i really like this food truck. This is Burgertyme, however, so let me say that the burger at Flip ‘n Patties is really good and unique. Please take my advice and try the other items. They are every bit as good and creative as the burger. I love what these guys are doing and I hope Philippine cuisine can make the crossover, because there is so much to offer. As they say in Cebu “Pwerting Lami-a!”
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A little background, my youngest brother is living in Peru for the next few years as a missionary. He has been a Burger Tymer since the beginning and has taken the time out of his busy schedule learning spanish and helping people to document his burger experience in a place you would least expect to have one. The following are his words:
From the Peruvian Branch of BurgerTyme
Saludos de Perú! I never believed that Perú had ever seen the Miracle that is a good Burger. After a trial of my faith and some help from a missionary, I found that Miracle!
The burger that comes out of Reventon is refreshingly good in its own way! The patty was hand made with diced onions in the mix. The flavor was really quite tasty and the onions weren’t an over powering flavor. I got mine con queso, huevo, y tecino. In English, with cheese, egg, and bacon. The bun was basically chewy bread that they toast on the griddle with everything else. The toasted bun went great with the melty cheese and egg! I put in my order and with in five minutes.. It Was On! I was ridiculosly excited to eat! Something different were the fries, which were small and crispsy, found on the burger. Not what I was used to but, I wasn’t going to change the experience.
The burger was great. I was impressed by how big of a hamburger comes out of such a small store for so little money; only 7 Nuevo Soles or 3 US Dollars(perfect for a poor missionary). I didn’t get a drink but I imagine that a Inca-Cola or Coka-Cola would have gone great with it.
In the end, I found a good burger. I ate that miracle! My Faith had made me Full.
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Burgers… Burger Tyme… Sigh, I haven’t had the enthusiasm, as of late, for planet Earth’s favorite food. I found it difficult to get excited about a burger unless it was made from beef raised next door, ground as we are speaking, with buns baked by artisans from the 17th century, topped with veggies from the garden of Eden… $20? No problem with quality like that! Right? It seems as though the pendulum has swung too far to the gourmet (read: expensive) end of the spectrum and I’ve lost sight of what makes a burger good. To get the magic back, during the holidays and the month of January I only had a few burgers at some old favorites like Christians Tailgate (was my first burger love in Houston) and Dearman’s Soda Fountain. These places offer the essence of burgers. No frills, no claims of superior ingredients, just good, tasty burgers.
When I returned from the holidays, I was recharged and ready to go out Burger Tyming! Fortunately there was a burger place that recently opened which seemed to be a mix of these burger philosophies. Simple but quality. Elevation burger aspires to elevate the simple burger without gimmicks or frills, just quality ingredients. We’ve heard this before. Let me be clear, I’m fine with quality however the result is usually either great burgers at great cost or average burgers at great cost. So the challenge is, can they over come the cost stigma associated with “quality” by turning out a great burger?
Walking in to Elevation Burger, I was impressed by how clean everything was. As much as I like dive bar burgers, its a bit refreshing not to have to worry about what might have been included with your order. The style is a mix of modern design mixed with natural elements like bamboo “wood” tables and chairs. The menu is pretty straightforward. Burgers come double or single patty ( a la In-N-Out), you select from a long list of toppings (a la Five Guys), add fries, add drink, and repeat. Something that I greatly appreciate is that they recommend trying the “original” which includes a standard set of toppings; elevation sauce, pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes.
I place my order for an Elevation Burger (double meat, double cheese), “Original” style. I opted to add caramelized onions and hot pepper relish. I added french fries (cooked in olive oil), and an all natural, organic chocolate Oreo malt. I was pretty hungry at this time and the wait felt longer the 7 or so minutes it took for the order to be brought to our table by the super polite cashier. The burger was not initially impressive. The patties are thin, as advertised, the cheddar is not melted (which it never does), and the bun looked pretty dry. The fries however looked great. Slightly thinner than normal and piled high. The burger tasted much better than it looked. Generally I don’t like cheddar due to its inability to melt and remain melted, but it was perfect with this burger. Nothing really stood out as spectacular but the overall flavor was fresh and light. It was not greasy at all but not dry. The fries were great. I’m not sure how much that has to do with being cooked in olive oil but they were perfectly crispy. The chocolate Oreo malt was as good as you can imagine, too thick to drink but a perfect dessert.
Elevation Burger is very good and high quality. I appreciate that they are not trying to reinvent the burger or insult their customers intelligence with the combinations. However it is not a great burger, which it needs to be to justify the $10 plus dollars this meal costs. Here’s the flipside. In the current burger environment, Elevation burger is middle of the pack price wise but will satisfy burger cravings without leaving you feeling greasy and gross. Getting ones burger mojo back is not easy. Oh wait, yes it is! Until next Burger Tyme!