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Stanton’s City Bites – Update!
Dec 6th, 2013 by Joemoney

Stantons City Bites 12 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10
(2 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)
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Stantons City Bites 6

Stanton’s City Bites
1420 Edwards St
Houston, TX 77007
www.stantonscitybites.com

What A Difference a Bun Makes –

Stantons City Bites 2It has been quite some time since I’ve been able to update this digital ode to burgers. Several life changes have taken much of my time away from various passions, burgers included. We bought our first home and are soon expecting a little baby burger lover. In these exciting times, full of changes or updates, I felt it fitting to update a burger review that was one of the first posts on this site four years ago. Houston has always loved and voted Stanton’s City Bites as one of the best burgers around long before the recent national love affair with gourmet burgers began. Based on this high praise, I made my way over with some coworkers and tried it out. As you can tell in my review (www.burgertyme.com/stantons), I was less than impressed.

Recently, however, a friend of mine messaged me that I should check out Stanton’s. Specifically that they had amazing bacon. Well, I initially dismissed it as buying into the hype. Then one day, I was watching George Motz’s tv show, Burgerland, where he visited Houston and went to Stanton’s. The burger I saw on that episode did not resemble anything like the burger of my memory. Specifically their new buns seemed much better then ones used in the past. Suddenly, I realized that i was missing out on a great burger rebirth! With little hesitation, I rounded up a few burger lovers, and actually rode a bike to Stanton’s. It was an added benefit that this place was close enough to enjoy biking through the historic Houston district.

Sorry Kermit –

Stantons City Bites 3From the outside, Stanton’s looks exactly the same. No change whatsoever. Once we walked in, however, it was obvious, much had changed. Gone were the convenience store shelves replaced by a mish mash of tables and chairs for an eclectic dining area. If you recall, my prior experience involved taking the food and finding a park to sit and eat due to the absence of seating. No longer did you place your order over an out of service meat cooler (although it was still there). The new menu was posted high above the cash register where you place your order, and get your ticket number. Stanton’s impressed my on my first visit with their wide variety of peculiar sodas. This his not only remained, but gotten even better. There is a huge selection of traditional and unknown (to me) sodas from all over. Two of note, that are my new favorites are Dublin Tart-n-Sweet and Cheerwine.

Stantons City Bites 5So after the wash of burger euphoria subsided, I stepped up to order. The one that stood out the me was called the Miss Piggie. Bacon ground into the patty served with candied bacon and a hash brown… Oh my gogi that sounds good. So I rounded it off with an order of sides and plenty of bizarre sodas. While we waited I watched as neighborhood kids repeatedly came in and bought candy, so this is still a functioning store for locals. After about ten minutes, the burgers arrived. Gone were the store brand, dry toasted buns. The new buns looked great, and were buttered and griddled. The burger patties here were always good quality and the star of the burger. This was no different. The addition of bacon ground in to the patty added some great texture and savory flavor to the beef. The candied bacon was great, sweet and salty. The hash brown was a great addition to anyone who is a fan of putting fries on their burger. Another noteworthy item was the veggies. The lettuce was leafy and bright green and the onions and tomatoes were also good. Of course, I like tots, and these hit me right in the tot spot.

The Wrap It Up –

Stantons City Bites 4Boy am I glad I gave this place a second chance. I have been back several times and brought as many people as I can to this place. It is authentically Houston, and authentically great. From my last review to this one, it has gone from a place I never really cared for to one of my favorite burgers in Houston. It is really great! So as with all things, some times, change is for the better, as long as we can maintain the character that makes us unique. Stanton’s has done exactly that!

Umami Burger
May 31st, 2012 by Joemoney

2 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 10
(2 votes, average: 8.50 out of 10)
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Umami Burger
www.umami.com/umami-burger

The Essence of Pure Flavour –

A while back, a friend of mine moved to Los Angeles. I’ve promised to visit whenever I got the chance and so far the closest I have ever come was San Francisco, which after a few texts to meet up I realized is not very close to LA. Among her many tales of improv comedy and LL Cool J sightings was mention of a truly unique burger. On my way back from skiing in Salt Lake City, I had a fortunate three hour layover at LAX. That seemed like enough time to have a Burger Tyme. Within minutes of landing, she picked us up, and we were on our way to try Umami Burger. I had heard many great things about this place and was excited to finally try it out. We were headed to the Hermosa Beach location which means on this first visit to southern California, I’d also get to see the beach!

When we arrived at around 6pm, this place was already packed. Our server showed us to our table and began explaining what Umami was all about. According to here and confirmed by the website Umami is the “pleasant and savory taste imparted by glutamate”. Um, OK. My interpretation, it is the indescribable sensation of flavor… or mushrooms… I’m not sure which. With that in mind, the menu seems almost genius. Every ingredient seemed to have an element of caramelized this, roasted that, or truffled something which invoked flavor sensations of some of my favorite burgers. Add to it the sights and smells of the “U” branded burgers being dished out, and I was ready to crane kick the nearest Cobra Kai who tried to get in between me and this Burger Tyme.

Honor to Your Burger –

I placed my order for the Umami Burger thinking it would offer the best example of the umami concept. Toppings include shitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, a parmesan ‘crisp’, and umami ketchup. I also could not resist the special of the day umami tater tots and, being from Louisiana, an Abita root beer. Once our order was in, the waitress served us some of the house made condiments and revealed to us that her favorite burger was Ray’s Hell Burger in DC. I found it slightly odd that Umami wasn’t her favorite but I made a mental note to give it a try next time I’m there anyway.

The wait seemed longer than it was given how hungry I’d become but I was soon presented with an inspiring burger. The buns alone looked delicious enough to fill up on. Visually this was a very well executed burger. The sear on the patty with the deep colors of the roasted veggies (and fungis?) combined with the Saturn ring of parmesan made me slightly reluctant to disturb it… but only slightly. I took my first bite and the flavor (there’s that word again) was amazing. It was sweet, savory, meaty, and had great texture. The bun was as good as it looked, pillowy, chewy, and slightly sweet. The ‘crisp’ of parmesan gave it a nice crunch. The patty was thick and perfectly cooked to medium rare. I loved it. The tater tots were not so inspiring. They looked amazing but had the texture of warm play dough. They supposedly were stuffed with cheese but other than a few cheese colored specks were just deep fried starch balls that were not very good.

The Wrap It Up –

Once our meal was over, we walked to the beach for a brief view of the Pacific Ocean, and then it was back to the airport. The visit was short and bittersweet. Oh Umami… You’ve teased me. Now I am thousands of miles away without any chance in the foreseeable future to have another. Word is that they are on the verge of expanding to other locales than LA. I would love that. This is a pricey meal, $20 when it is all said and done, but this is a unique, original burger that I would gladly pay for. Again and again!

The Company Burger
Feb 22nd, 2012 by Joemoney

2 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10
(2 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)
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The Company Burger
www.thecompanyburger.com
4600 Freret St Ste A
New Orleans, LA 70115 (map)

Company Man – 

Louisiana is great. The food is great, people are nice, and life is a little more laid back. Having grown up in Baton Rouge and since moved away for work, I find myself always comparing things to what it would be like back home. In almost all cases I would prefer Louisiana…. all except burgers. All around this great country, there are fantastic burgers. The assumption that great food traditions should easily translate in to great burgers is not always valid. This is even true in the culinary mecca that is New Orleans. Until recently, the “Best” burger of the crescent city was the beloved, but less than impressive burger at Port of Call. Straightforward, beefy patty, with a baked potato on the side. That has been the standard for years. Recently, however, there have been some exciting burger developments. One of which is The Company Burger.

On a day trip to New Orleans over the holidays, I wanted to sample what a quick internet search has revealed as one of NOLAs new favorite burgers. South of I-10 from downtown, in the revitalized Freret area, The Company Burger sits unassumingly in the corner of something like a strip mall. The line of people waiting extended out of the door at only a quarter to noon. The menu was simple and made from locally sourced ingredients (noticed I didn’t say ‘organic’… neither do they). You can get the standard double burger or a single, both simply dressed with american cheese, red onions, and house made bread and butter pickles. The only options are; add bacon… add fried egg. Nice. If you are not feeling beef,they also have a turkey and lamb burger and a riff on a corndog made with porkbelly which I recently learned comes from a friend of mine’s farm. As with all pondering, my thoughts of burger eutopia was soon disrupted, and it was our turn to order.

Sold My Soul to the Company Store –

I love love love simple menus. I ordered the ‘Company Burger’, added a fried egg, and ‘Company Fries’. Simple. Lot’s of drink options and I went with bottled, mexican Coke. My wife opted for the turkey burger and a glass of water… After exchanging awkward looks with the cashier, I paid and I found us some great seats at the counter overlooking the burger prep / kitchen. It was awesome. In front of us was an orderly yet fast paced crew churning out burger after perfect looking burger. Each station operator knew their tasks; season, grill, and top the patties with cheese, toast the buns, fries, pickles and onions… and when they came together to assemble the burgers, each had the look of a surgeon in the operating room. Precision. I watched as this process repeated itself over and over again. It was mesmerizing. At the end of the counter, a guy was forming the meat patties from freshly ground balls of meat. Next to him was a complete set of Nathan Myhrvold’s opus to gastronomy, Modernist Cuisine. Suddenly, all of the attention to detail began to make sense.

The wait was not short but this was due to the long queue of orders ahead of mine. Plus, I was enjoying myself. Our order came up and the anticipation couldn’t be greater. Even my wife’s turkey burger looked great! I picked it up and took my first bite and simultaneously my taste buds sang while hot egg yolk shot from the perfectly cooked over medium egg on to my arm. This was only disappointing in the sense that some of the egg yolk went to waste. Classic. That is the best way I can describe the taste. No gimmicks. No pork belly or doughnut buns or even ketchup or mustard needed here. There was a mayo bar with house made this or that but I didn’t even bother. The cheese was perfectly melted over the patties which were seasoned with the right amount of salt and crusty sear. The fresh baked bun was great. It held it’s texture and was buttered and toasted well. The house made bread and butter pickles were excellent too. They lent just the right amount of sweetness to counter the savory components, while the red onions had just enough bite. My wife said her turkey burger was also really good. After eating mine, I believed her. The fries, while great and hand cut and double fried, were dramatically overshadowed… but isn’t that how it should be?

The Wrap It Up –

In case you couldn’t tell, I loved this burger. It was great! Not just great for New Orleans or Louisiana, great for anywhere! And I couldn’t have been happier! Whenever you hear about Louisiana in the news, on travel shows, or even when talking to new acquaintances, it seems as if the rest of the country is under the impression that we  should all still be in a post-Katrina shock. But the truth is people are resilient and life moves forward. The Company Burger is a perfect example of that. Finding the best of what is available and turning it in to something special. Nothing fancy. Not complicated. Not gimmicky. Simple and for everyone. To me, that is what being from Louisiana is all about.

LunchBox Laboratory
Nov 10th, 2011 by Joemoney

1 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 10
(1 votes, average: 6.00 out of 10)
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 –

LunchBox Laboratory
www.lunchboxlaboratory.com
1253 Thomas Street
Seattle, WA 98109 (map)

A Burger for Dexter –

Back in Washington! It’s been over two years since I’ve been to this beautiful state. En route to majestic Mt. Rainier, I made sure to sample yet another burger in search of the best burger that the pacific northwest can offer. After some scientific research, I was led to the LunchBox Laboratory in Seattle. Rated as the Best Burger in Washington according to the Food Network and one of the 12 best burgers in the nation by Epicurious, the expectations and hype were a little higher than usual. We made our way over to LBL which, coincidentally, is on the same corner as the REI Flagship store. My wife does not believe that this was a coincidence but nevertheless, we were going to head that way anyway before making our way the the mountain. Remembering the last two burgers I had in and around this town, Red Mill and XXX Root Beer, I had high hopes for the Lab.

We arrived on a chilly and overcast Seattle day and found a seat outside. Our waiter came out and rather unenthusiastically took our drink order, giving us time to make sense of the verbose menu. When the time came to take our order, our waiter began complaining about the number of “build your own” burgers our group was ordering. It didn’t seem like he was trying to be funny but maybe I don’t get Seattle humor. Rude service aside, it was now my time to order.

Weird Science –

Based on my research and the recommendation of Epicurious, I simply ordered “The Burger of the Gods”. This burger seemed to have it all! Balsamic soaked onions… gorgonzola sauce…. a patty mixture of kobe ribeye and chuck…. mmmm. As an added benefit, this simple order would not burden our waiter further with the custom burger issues he was having. I went with a side of tater tots which LBL proudly admits to having. I love tots so gotta have ’em. My wife’s custom burger was a basic build with lettuce, mayo, and patty but she also added “Million Island Burger Sauce” which is LBLs version of thousand island dressing. She also ordered the sweet potato fries. To top it off, my sister in law opted for chocolate cherry shake made with local Rainier cherries. All in all, it seemed like we had all of the ingredients for a grand experiment.While we waited, we enjoyed the cool weather, the noticeably 90’s Seattle rock music being played over the radio, and talking about our camping plans.

After about ten minutes, out came the fancy burger spread. These burgers definitely appeal to the gourmet, artistic end of the burger spectrum. As I inspected my godly grub, I noticed that the organic (there’s the O word again) kaiser bun had an intense toasting to it. It was not burned but was the color of deeply browned butter and also had an extremely hard texture on the toasted side. I reassembled my burger, hoisted it with both hands and bit in. Angelic visions of sweet balsamic onions and pungent gorgonzola  filled my vision! Whether intentional or not, the hard toasted bun gave a very nice contrast in texture to the other, more yielding ingredients. The flavor of the patty was not really at play here. It gave a nice beefy backdrop to the stars of the show. This was a very great tasting burger with very intense flavors. So intense that by the end of the burger, my taste buds were tired. I sampled my wife’s burger and found it similar in texture with much different flavors at play. The “million island” dressing was slightly sweet and seemed to match up much better with the patty and cheddar  rather than over powering them.

The tater tots were a little disappointing. I hoped that the same level of creativity we were seeing in the burgers would be applied to the sides, similar in effort to the tots at Block 7. The tots were basically the same you can get anywhere. I don’t think these were made in house, but if they were, then I am impressed by the accuracy with which they replicated them. The sweet potato fries were cooked nicely and seasoned with sea salt. I sampled the chocolate cherry shake, and i have to say, it was really good. The fresh cherries were a nice touch to create the classic combination of chocolate covered cherries.

The Wrap It Up –

The test results are in. The lab was an interesting and tasty Burger Tyme…. but it was also an experience where you have to pay for the privilege. My “Burger of the Gods” was the cheapest burger option at a steep $13. Sides were and additional three. Add to that beverages and tip and we spent well over $20 a person on this little experiment. While the burgers were good, they were not good enough to justify that steep of a price. I came here expecting to be wowed by creativity and originality but did not find it. The texture was intersting but new burger ground was not being broken here. For example, the signature “Burger of the Gods” was good but was simliar in concept to an over wrought version of the Good Dog burger in Philadelphia.

All in all, the Lab is an experience but if I lived in Seattle, I might go here every now and then for some high quality burgers. However, I’m afraid I would keep searching for the best burger. Until next trip!

Little Bitty Burger Barn
Sep 26th, 2011 by Joemoney

2 votes, average: 6.50 out of 102 votes, average: 6.50 out of 102 votes, average: 6.50 out of 102 votes, average: 6.50 out of 102 votes, average: 6.50 out of 102 votes, average: 6.50 out of 102 votes, average: 6.50 out of 102 votes, average: 6.50 out of 102 votes, average: 6.50 out of 102 votes, average: 6.50 out of 10
(2 votes, average: 6.50 out of 10)
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Little Bitty Burger Barn
www.littlebittyburgerbarn.com
5503 Pinemont Drive
Houston, TX 77092-2619
(map)

Wittle Bit Hungwy –

In the middle of a busy work week, I got a call from my brother in law telling me he had an expiring coupon to this burger place in northwest Houston. Did I want to go try it with him? Uh… Yeah! I made my way to one of the less savory areas in Houston and pulled up to a shack by some railroad tracks. The parking lot was full and there was already a line out the door. Well that is a good sign that we were in for a special Burger Tyme. I managed to park behind what looked to be an abandoned hardware store within walking distance and walked my way to the “Barn”. We stepped inside and I was surprised by how deceptively big this place is. From the outside it seems like just a small portable building, but inside there were plenty of tables and booths… All full. We got in line and and began perusing the menu board.

Right off the bat, things were looking pretty good for this Itty Bitty Burger Tyme. All burgers were served on a fresh baked bun and could be ordered with either the 1/4 or 1/2 lb patty of fresh, never frozen beef.  The price also included your choice of fries, tater tots, or onion rings. So far, this place had the features that I look for and a price that like. It could only be better if they have shakes… THEY DO! Can I add a fried egg?… YES! This is burger heaven. While we were waiting, it is becoming obvious that there are some struggles at the cash register. It was the employees first day and the owner was running back and forth from the kitchen to help her ring customers up. It wasn’t that big of a deal but the aroma of cooking burgers was making my stomach yearn for some little bitty goodness.

Wait a Wittle Wonger –

Our turn comes up, but there is a problem. Neither the owner nor the new employee are to be found. It’s just a line of potential customers and an empty counter. For about five minutes, we waited at the counter, while they would pop their head out of the kitchen and say it would be just a minute. At this point I’m still OK waiting. The burgers I see coming out of the kitchen look great. Finally the owner steps out and explains that they are very busy and begins to take our order.

I put my order in for a fully loaded 1/4 lb cheese burger with an added fried egg ( of course), tater tots, and a chocolate shake. I was told the shake would come out with my order. My brother in law placed his order and we were fortunate enough to find a seat. While we were in line, the people continued to pile in and the line was always out the door. So, obviously, this place was busy. After waiting 15 minutes to get an order in, we waited some more for our order… And waited… And waited. After about 20 minutes here it came. In the hands of the new employee who had been relegated to bringing food out, were two great looking baskets filled with big burgers, lots of tots, and a shake… No wait, where is my shake. I asked her about the missing item, and she said she would bring it right out. Thinking it would soon turn up, we dug in.

The bun was pillowy soft and very good. While I only ordered the 1/4lb patty, it seemed a little larger and added a very nicely seasoned beefy flavor. It had a nice sear on it and the cheese was perfectly melted. The veggies were so so. The slice of red onion was great but the chopped ice burg lettuce was the let down, albeit the only let down of the very well balanced burger. The addition of the fried egg only vaulted this burger into the greatness stratosphere! The tots were, well, tots. I love tots but I honestly couldn’t tell you a tot I’ve had is any different than any place else, like I could with fries. I’m sure they are frozen and all come out of the same factory in the north east, but I still love them.

The shake was… was… still not there. I was halfway through the burger. I approached the counter to ask for it and was told by the owner it was coming out soon. I grabbed a cup of water to at least have something to wash this down with. I managed to finish this entire meal with only a cup of water. While my arteries were happy, my mouth was sad.

The Wrap It Up –

Little Bitty Burger Barn has a great, GREAT burger! But this place also has some Little Bitty problems. The wait time is just ridiculous. I understand that they were busy and there was a new employee, but almost 40 minutes from arrival to eating is insane. The owner was somewhat apologetic for the wait and the confusion but never actually apologized. He would only say “We’re really busy”… Yeah, I can tell. I did finally get my shake… As I was walking out the door. Had I had it with the meal I would have probably thought it was pretty good. But while driving home, it seemed like nothing more than half-hearted mixture of soft serve mixed with Hershey’s syrup. Overall, I would go back but not during a week day lunch. The burger was surprisingly good with borderline gourmet quality and the price was spot on. They just need to fix a few of the rush hour kinks. If they can iron this out, I can promise, the rating will go up.

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