(Him) Feb 21st was along time ago and that was the last time I had beef (knowingly). I miss my friend the cow and the wonderful selections of meat it offers. Never one with a good willpower I decided to give up the delicious hoofed morsel for Lent. It’s been hard folks, really hard. So as the day after Easter approaches I reflect on the one cow item I miss most….The Hamburger.I give you a list of the 5 greatest burgers known to me. You’ll probably disagree or agree or have no idea what I’m talking about but I gots to let it out. So here they are……….
1. Red Robin – The Banzai Burger. Yep it’s a burger perversion that make the list at #1 but this a special dish that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s perverse because it comes with Pineapple slices and Teriyaki sauce. It’s not a traditional backyard burger but that’s the point. They got it right with a combination of teriyaki sauce and mayonnaise that compliment each other extremely well. The pineapple slices are generous and the cheddar cheese that sits atop brings it all home. The ground beef they use at the Robin is always delicious and when you ask for a little pink, you get a little pink. I used to frequent the bird burger joint quite frequently however that has changed as they stopped carrying the bestest salad dressing in the world….Cho Cho. Red Robin really doesn’t have much going for it besides this burger in my eyes. The generous all you can eat french fires are of the steak variety and are highly inconsistent.Sometimes they are fried to perfection but half the time they are undercooked and this is no exaggeration. It’s like playing Irish spud roulette. It was because of this fact I switched to a side salad around my 4th visit and found the aforementioned Cho Cho.I could think of no better meal than Banzai Burger and a side salad with Cho Cho.I would eat here every two weeks for this wonderful combination. But Alas Poor Yorick, they stopped selling the Cho Cho and my love of Red Robin immediately stopped. Don’t get me wrong I’ll still go back and the Banzai will be my first adventure back into the land of beef but you really can’t go home again.
#2 Ray’s Restaurant….Rockton Illinois. This place is no longer exists but it was my first foray into a world of great burgers. It was mom and pop joint tucked in the downtown area of small Rockton Illinois and my parents used to frequently regularly when I was a kid. It was more place they stopped for coffee with work friends but I ate here occasionally after school. I barely remember Ray but he was fat guy with a mop top of black hair and he would smile like heck when I told how good the burger was. It was always spot on, super bloody and super greasy. Perhaps I romanticize this burger because it reminds me of my youth but I do remember thinking it was great. In fact it was the first food that I remember thinking was great and probably led me to the fine path of obesity that I celebrate today.
#3. Steak and Shake……any burger. Similar to Culver’s, these burgers are a bit thinner and a bit more crispy. It’s hard to find a Steak and Shake in my neck of the woods however i will stop at one should I see one on any highway travels. The fries are awesome and the 50’s Diner interior although cliche’ , works for the joint. They are on the tad expensive side but well worth it for the once a year visit.
#4. Joe Hast***** Manitowoc WI. Cory’s uncle makes a hell of a burger. Stone cold sober or 8 beers in, Joe is a grillmaster fo sure. Be it on a frigid New Year’s eve or a sweltering summer afternoon, Joe is as consistent as they come on the grill. I’m pretty sure the meat he uses varies across the board and location. I think he uses beer somehow and someway in his grilling. I think I want a Big Hoss burger right damn now! Why do I do this to myself? I’ll pass up a steak if I know there is a burger available at the family events. So yeah, that’s a recommendation.
#5. Ponderosa …Ponderosa Steakburger. Another case of Burger romanticizing? When I was kid we would go to Ponderosa as our big night out on Friday nights. I would always order this burger, bring along a Choose Your Own Adventure Book and always left happy. The Ponderosa chain seems to be going the way of the dinosaur and they are increasingly harder to find as they disappear from the landscape but they do serve a mean steakburger. Since they are a “Steak Joint” they shouldn’t serve fatty Gray steaks and perhaps that’s the reason for their downfall. It’s a shame actually.
So there you have it……go have a burger somewhere, anywhere, for me won’t you?