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Uburger --recent thoughts

t
twentyoystahs Mar 29, 2007 12:48 PM

I was craving a burger and fries at lunch today so I hit up my favorite fast-food burger joint in Boston, Uburger. I know the merits of a "uburger" have been debated quite a bit on this board, and I think today sort of solidified my opinions on this spot. As I've stated before, the crispy, piping hot, hand-cut fries are excellent here, and certainly worth a visit on their own. The burger is tasty, but tasty more in the vein of a really good "fast-food burger" vs a "premium burger" tasty....does that make sense? [though still, not yet ready to stand up to an In N Out burger] The flat patty had a solid beefy flavor, and certainly was ok-tasting, but there was no discernable juicyness at all --certainly due to the fact that they cook those li'l patties to a solid well done.....there wasn't a trace of pink in my burger. The bun was good, the fries, again --no question they are indeed the highlight of the meal..... A combo special --just a plain cheeseburger with fries and drink was $7 and change...and it more than satisfied me. But here's the thing. As I drove away from Uburger and made that Uturn going the other way on Comm Ave,...I passed Eastern Standard and had a fleeting thought --why didn't I just go here for lunch? It would have cost me a few bucks more, for sure.....but no doubt, for a much better burger.....the fries, however, might be negligible....they're delicious at both places.... When I got back to the office, I did some quick research --$12 for a burger at Eastern Standard...so, with tip, you're looking at a little over double the cost of Uburger meal..........so..certainly a sizeable difference....My verdict --.these are both worthy destinations --it really just depends what you're looking for...a quick trip where you can be in and out in 15 minutes and have a fairly satisfying meal....or a tasty premium burger you can sit down, savor, and spend the time to truly enjoy....since I eat burgers so rarely, I'm thinking next time I might be leaning more toward the latter, but I can appreciate the void a place like Uburger fills......

  1. maillard Mar 29, 2007 12:58 PM

    Though I am loathe to start up the Uburger doneness debate again, I did notice that my last burger from there was definitely pink in the center. Anyway! I also love the fries and their onion rings are my favorite in Boston. I like that they're a happy medium between the super-skinny kind at Bartley's and the fat breaded gross (to me) rings that many other places have.

    5 Replies
    1. re: maillard
      t
      twentyoystahs Mar 29, 2007 01:06 PM

      There was definitely no pink in my burger...
      I really enjoy picking up a burger, taking a bite and letting the juices dribble down my chin (not so sure that my DCs enjoy that as much, but I digress)
      This doesn't happen at Uburger, it doesn't even come close, which makes it more of a fast food burger spot vs a true premium burger spot.

      1. re: twentyoystahs
        a
        another_adam Mar 29, 2007 04:08 PM

        Did either of you ask for your burger done any particular way? I'm curious to know whether they've started paying a little more attention, and by default you get a rock-hard well done patty, whereas asking for medium or rarer gets your a little bit of pink.
        Then again, in my few experiences there, asking never made a bit of difference (and they seem to have been getting progressively *more* overdone, and less flavorful). Might just be luck of the draw? I had pretty much come to the same conclusion that they're not worth it, but maybe if they can work things out a bit...

        1. re: another_adam
          t
          twentyoystahs Mar 30, 2007 06:41 AM

          I was under the impression (due to all the discussion about it on the board) that they did would not cook your burger at anything less than MW. So I didn't bother asking.

          1. re: another_adam
            maillard Mar 30, 2007 08:36 AM

            No, I've never asked. Guess I'm just lucky? :)

            1. re: maillard
              a
              another_adam Mar 30, 2007 09:08 AM

              OK, thanks for the info! (I also knew they wouldn't cook less than MW but ask for medium rare anyway. Usually they just say "OK" (but don't do it) or "OK, medium" as if it's the same thing. No matter, I've gotten it quite well done--I just wondered if not asking gets you extra well done or something. But evidently there's no connection!

      2. b
        BJK Mar 29, 2007 01:03 PM

        I had the exact same thoughts on my way out of Uburger on my one visit. If I worked nearby and needed a quick, inexpensive lunch, I might go to Uburger again. Since I don't, if I'm ever in the neighborhood again and craving a burger, I will without question pay a few extra bucks and sit at the bar at Eastern Standard.

        BK

        1. g
          Gabatta Mar 29, 2007 02:00 PM

          I know they try to market themselves as similar, but just to be clear, Uburger is not even in the same universe as In-n-Out. IMO they will never be ready to stand up to In-n-Out.

          I agree with your comment about ES. My opportunities to clog my arteries are few and far between these days. I want the best burger experience I can. Uburger does not cut the mustard. Though I would probably love it if I was a BU undergrad.

          1. g
            Gordito Mar 29, 2007 06:39 PM

            I think for the sort of burger you are looking for, you may have to go out to Watertown:

            http://www.deluxetowndiner.com/home.html

            They do a fine regular burger, then a fancier Kobe burger for a bit more, I've tried both and not really discerned a difference. They also draw a huge weekend breakfast crowd, which we have never felt like braving.

            1. Bob MacAdoo Mar 30, 2007 04:43 PM

              I agree with 20oystah's assessment that UBurger fills the void of the really good fast-food burger. In fact, I would rate it as really, really good, especially when you take the fries and rings into consideration. In my two visits, the place has been crammed full of students and young adults, so I'd say there was/is a pent up demand for a fresh, fast food burger joint in the city. I do look forward to the day when I try the In N Out burger, if only to form a reasoned comparison with UB's fare. :)

              1. z
                Zatan Mar 31, 2007 08:06 AM

                I Like UBurger, I don't think of it as the same type of burger as one gets at a proper restaurant like ES, so in my mind they are two different foods. It is as really good "fast food" type of burger, made with care it seems, and things like the sauce and the bun are nice components that, in addition to freshly ground beef, lift this far above a real fast food burger. The fries are great too!

                Now I have to wonder about In n Out, I have never had theirs, but I find it hard to imagine that anything could be THAT much better. I know they've achieved a sort of mythical status, and I look forward to trying them, but what gives?

                1. yumyum Mar 31, 2007 08:26 AM

                  I know it's a chain so we shouldn't get into the relative merits on this board, but I had a Fuddruckers' burger this week that was really really good. Ordered MR and delivered MR with crispy smoky bacon, cheddar cheese and a buttered grilled bun. I didn't care for the pub wedge-style fries, but my friend scarfed his up. I like that you can add your own fixings and the price is right. Fudd's is no In-n-Out but for a fast food burger, I think it's right up there with the best.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: yumyum
                    t
                    tamerlanenj Mar 31, 2007 08:41 AM

                    Fuddruckers is the model that makes me absolutely incredulous that UBurger won't cook burgers to temp. order. Fuddruckers is a very very similar restaurant; the fact that they can cook a burger medium rare tells me that U-Burger should have no excuse. I refuse to go back until they amend their asinine policy.

                    I had a fuddrucker's burger at Jordan's in Reading before 300 and it was better than my last visit to u-burger. That burger actually had some moisture.

                  2. l
                    lergnom Mar 31, 2007 08:49 AM

                    If you like a griddle-cooked burger, then Uburger is fine. I prefer Burger King's Angus Burger - without mayo. They use a better bun for that than their normal fast food bun, the meat tastes good and, without the mayo, the taste is very much like an old diner's good hamburger (and is only about 500 calories).

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: lergnom
                      t
                      tamerlanenj Mar 31, 2007 08:56 AM

                      I can't imagine anyone preferring a grill cooked burger to a griddle cooked burger. It just seems like common sense that the griddle is the superior cooking method.

                      Boston, though, has a fetish for the huge, grilled pub-burger. I like my burgers smaller, griddle, greasy, and doubled up if necessary! like Shake Shack!

                      1. re: tamerlanenj
                        e
                        ellbell Mar 31, 2007 09:23 AM

                        U-burger is unfortunately a total dissapointment. the fact that "u" cant get a burger there thats not overcooked really takes them out of contention as a serious burger place. Id rather get a double cheese at mickey d's for a buck...

                        1. re: ellbell
                          t
                          triple creme Mar 31, 2007 01:18 PM

                          I'm glad you made that "u" pun, because my DC and I disagree on how to pronounce "U-burger". He calls it "ooh-burger" and I say "you-burger". Apparently you're on my side!

                          1. re: triple creme
                            b
                            BJK Apr 1, 2007 05:56 AM

                            I'm pretty sure the "U" in Uburger is a reference to B.U. (Boston University). Does your friend refer to the school as "Bee Ooh"? How about "En Ooh" or "Ooh En Aich"?

                            :)
                            BK

                            1. re: BJK
                              g
                              Gordito Apr 1, 2007 08:28 AM

                              I thought it was a double entendre, a reference both to "U" as in University and to "Uburger" like "Ubermensch" a la Freddy Nietzsche. But that could be way off.

                              1. re: Gordito
                                t
                                triple creme Apr 1, 2007 11:41 AM

                                I think he may be correct after all -- he pulled out some convincing evidence: It's supposed to be a pun on "uber", which is why their slogan is "burgers above all" (as in "uber alles").

                                But I like your take on the double entendre.

                        2. re: tamerlanenj
                          wittlejosh Mar 31, 2007 02:42 PM

                          A grilled burger, done right, can be superior, IMO.

                          1. re: wittlejosh
                            g
                            Gabatta Apr 1, 2007 02:14 PM

                            I have prepared and eaten many outstanding grilled burgers. However, I would say that 'all other factors being equal' griddle trumps grill.

                            1. re: Gabatta
                              wittlejosh Apr 1, 2007 02:40 PM

                              To each his or her own. More grilled ones for me!

                      2. p
                        paulgardner Apr 2, 2007 06:57 AM

                        Went to Uburger this weekend (did not want to wait 45 minutes for Eastern Standard table); fries were excellent, burger just average, thin and dry for the most part, but certainly better than McDonalds.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: paulgardner
                          e
                          ellbell Apr 2, 2007 07:05 AM

                          whether or not u think the mcdonalds is better is just personal opinion of course but remember this:

                          In-n-out burger has been in business over thirty years, mickey d's even longer. For the most part those fast joints havent changed and who could argue their popularity? The burgers at u-burger are in serious question for me because they dont stand up on their own, they dont overcome their own limiting factor (over cooked and dry usually). So for me I would say its not worth more because of that, and for a 1$ they dont really compare....
                          Finally, why go to the trouble of spending more money on ingredients (u-burger) and labor to make the food better if its not going to set its self apart.....its a case of a menu reading better than it eats....the biggest problem in this town.

                          1. re: ellbell
                            MC Slim JB Apr 2, 2007 07:22 AM

                            Not really a discussion for this board, but you might want to read Fast Food Nation before you a) ever eat at McD's again or b) assert that giant fast food chains haven't changed in over 30 years. In fact, McDonald's production practices have evolved significantly in some fairly horrific ways ("Would you like some spinal cord in your patty, sir? How about multiple scary chemical flavoring agents? Sorry, those aren't really optional.")

                            My big issue with ooh-burger is their unwillingness to cook a burger to order. Any place that can't do a burger medium-rare is simply off my list on principle.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                              e
                              ellbell Apr 2, 2007 07:32 AM

                              MIne too. I have read fast food nation, not really sure of your point though. Again we are getting down to personal preferences which is a no no. What hasn't changed at these chains is consistent flavors, some thing a u burger lacks.. The point is "what are we placing value on". I think its great that you want to assert your knowledge, but in regards to food discussion I maintain that for the money I would prefer the nostalgia of fast food for a buck.
                              In essence we agree, because I want return to u burger for the same reasons...

                              1. re: ellbell
                                wittlejosh Apr 2, 2007 07:49 AM

                                I'd argue that personal preferences are at the heart of a board like this. Including the assertion that a uburger lacks flavor.

                                My personal preference: The uburger I tried tasted just OK to me. In-N-Out burgers are pretty awesome for fast food. McDonalds? I'm addicted to their Filet-O-Fish, spinal cords be damned!

                                1. re: wittlejosh
                                  h
                                  hotdog annie Apr 2, 2007 11:55 AM

                                  I don't get why this is still in debate. Take UBurger for what's its worth, it's a fast food joint. Being in my young 20's and having limited cash flow, my friends and I go to UBurger all the time and i've never had a "dry" or "tasteless" burger there. Everyone sounds like a giant food snob on this board. UBurger compared to Eastern Standard? Please! If you want to sit and have a nice meal go to ES, if you want a deliscious fast food burgergo to UBurger? Seems pretty simple to me.

                                  One thing is for sure, I never have the DISGUSTING feeling that I get after I eat at McDs when i'm eating at UBurger. Even though i'm broke, that in itself is enough to keep me from ordering off the dollar menu!

                                  1. re: hotdog annie
                                    g
                                    Gabatta Apr 2, 2007 02:22 PM

                                    'deliscious' is in the eye of the beholder...

                                    1. re: hotdog annie
                                      b
                                      BJK Apr 3, 2007 06:17 AM

                                      Sorry, but "everyone" sounding like a "giant food snob" is a bit much. IMHO, UBurger doesn't do it for me. I've really enjoyed In-N-Out and Five Guys in my travels, both of which seem to be striving for the same market. UBurger, Krazy Karry's and Wild Willy's here in the Boston area all fall short for me. As far as I'm concerned, if I'm going to spend $8 or $9 for a burger, fries, and a drink, I might as well spend $13 or $14 and go to Eastern Standard (or Gargoyle's or West Side Lounge). There's just not enough additional value over a $4 meal at Macky D's if it's fast food that I'm ultimately going to be eating.

                                      BK

                                      1. re: BJK
                                        t
                                        twentyoystahs Apr 3, 2007 07:04 AM

                                        I actually think Wild Willys is a bit ahead of the pack. They WILL cook your burger to order, prices for a burger, fries and drink are similar to Uburger...and I think it's a better burger (or at least it was the last time I was there, which was probably a yr ago now) Again, not trying to compare it to Eastern Standard or O'Sullivans or Druid or any of the true burger contenders...just comparing it to other burger fast food joints....

                                        1. re: twentyoystahs
                                          MC Slim JB Apr 3, 2007 07:54 AM

                                          Wild Willy's will not cook a burger rare. That's not a problem for most people, but they do draw a line.

                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                            t
                                            twentyoystahs Apr 3, 2007 07:58 AM

                                            yeah, not a problem for me, so i didn't notice. i'm pretty sure i ordered it medium rare, tho....

                                            1. re: twentyoystahs
                                              wittlejosh Apr 3, 2007 09:13 AM

                                              Had the burger that I rave about, controversially, at Radius again last night. Heaven. Medium-rare and beautiful. $17, with fries.

                          2. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Apr 3, 2007 02:48 PM

                            I finally made it to Uburger a couple weeks ago, after hearing all the controversy on the boards. It was a perfectly adequate burger, and unfortunately, that means it's one of the best in Boston. Speaking as a native Texan, I have never had a truly great burger in this city, and I suspect that one does not exist. (Yes, yes, I know everywhere you're going to suggest: they're not doing it for me.) In the meantime, Uburger is about as good as Wild Willy's, and quicker to get to from Packard's Corner. On the other hand, Wild Willy's does have the advantage of offering a green chile burger.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                              t
                              twentyoystahs Jul 3, 2007 09:26 AM

                              I thought I'd add to this thread as I just had my quarterly visit to Uburger and was actually a bit disappointed. The fries, as always, were awesome. No doubt the highlight of the meal. The burger, on the other hand, was fairly dry, flat, and flavorless. Really. I had a cheeseburger w/just ketchup and mustard and found it to be pretty blah. I didn't even detect any of that beefy flavor I had tasted on previous visits. Not sure if something has changed, and though it wasn't "bad.." it certainly wasn't "good.." In the future, when I've craving a burger, I doubt this will be on my radar. Which sort of disappoints me, because I truly think those fries are an act of god. ;) Maybe next time I'll try a grilled chicken sandwich and fries. Harder to be disappointed w/grilled chicken, i think.

                              And a side note: I've only been to Wild Willy's a few times, and not recently, but i recall their burgers being MUCH better than the one I had yesterday at Uburger.

                              1. re: twentyoystahs
                                t
                                tamerlanenj Jul 3, 2007 10:04 AM

                                The verdict is in. The experiment has failed. If this were eater, I'd but U-Burger on a (much deserved) Death Watch. If you're going to do fast food burgers, either make the patties thin for doubling up, or cook them to order (like Fuddruckers) so that they aren't all dried out. U-Burger is like stuck in the middle...burgers too big for the in'n'out or Shake Shack approach they are going for, but not juicy or rare enough to be satisfying for a bigger burger.

                                Thumbs way down.

                                Of course your burger was dry...it was cooked to death, my friend.

                                1. re: tamerlanenj
                                  t
                                  twentyoystahs Jul 3, 2007 12:09 PM

                                  Nah, I don't think putting them on a death watch is warranted. They're in the heart of college land, with lots of kids looking for a cheap, fairly satisfying meal. This place fits the bill, and the burger isn't bad, just not all that good. But it's ok, just not worth going out of your way for. I think the last time I went (and when this thread originated) I felt the same way, but then sort of forgot, because those fries put a dreamy haze over everything ;) I won't forget next time....

                                  1. re: twentyoystahs
                                    maillard Jul 3, 2007 12:50 PM

                                    And even if the BU students had higher standards, the fries, onion rings, and chicken sandwiches are pretty awesome. I love U-Burger, but don't get burgers there anymore.

                                  2. re: tamerlanenj
                                    Bob MacAdoo Jul 4, 2007 07:16 AM

                                    To twist Mark Twain's famed refrain, rumors of U Burger's death are laughable.

                                    For example, I parked on Kenmore Street next to the U during a recent Sox home stand around 4 p.m. Though I did not stop in, the place seemed crowded for a Sunday afternoon, with the porch filled and people coming and going. Since the game was still on (meaning there was minimal impact from Sox fans), and since BU was in full-blown summer vacation mode, I'd have to say they are doing something right at U Burger.

                                    Of course, proof is in the pudding, or I should say, in the register. Time will tell if the well-done "rare-vs.-well done" debate will have an impact in U Burger's business.

                                2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                  l
                                  lergnom Jul 3, 2007 11:14 AM

                                  I had two last night - carried them into Fenway. They were both good, though cooked a little more than I would like. I had the one with banana peppers and the one called the "boom burger." I think that plain they are a little drab.

                                  I've had a few great burgers here but the experience is so variable I can't say flat out "this place does it." The best burger I've had here in years was at The Palm a few weeks ago - cooked exactly right with a lot of flavor - but the one I had there before that was just okay.

                                  I've never had a bad burger at Abe & Louie's but I've never had a great burger there. I've had a good but not great burger at O'Sullivan's but only when it's not the lunch rush and the regular cook (not the owner) is at the grill; he tends to do things like press the hamburger with a spatula which dries it out. But tastes differ.

                                  1. re: lergnom
                                    k
                                    KGardz Jul 11, 2007 07:33 AM

                                    After hearing rave reviews, I went to UBurger a few nights ago. I ordered a "Cool Chick" which was a basic chicken sandwich with the fixings and mayo. I thought it was very good, not dry at all, had very good flavoring. I had heard, even better things about the fries and they were delicious. Similar to those hand-cut at In N Out burger (minus the 3000 mile distance). On the whole it was a very satisfying meal, next time I go back I am going to put my love for chicken sandwiches aside and get a burger. The one that intrigued me the most was one with Jalapano's and chipotle sauce. Well, good place to have, I really enjoyed my meal and will be going back soon!

                                    1. re: KGardz
                                      t
                                      twentyoystahs Jul 11, 2007 09:44 AM

                                      I'd stick with the chicken sandwich if I were you. Burger's just alright, honestly sort of flavorless. In fact, I think I mentioned above that my last visit will probably be my last burger from there. From now on it's a chicken sandwich and fries for me.

                                      1. re: twentyoystahs
                                        k
                                        KGardz Jul 11, 2007 09:59 AM

                                        Yeah, I would even just go back for fries! Have you tried Wild Willy's in Watertown? They put together a good burger and fries

                                        1. re: KGardz
                                          Bob MacAdoo Jul 11, 2007 10:11 AM

                                          I think UBurger's burgers are great for what they are -- fresh, fast food burgers. I love the cheeseburger with grilled onions. UBurger has a special sauce that combines mustard, mayo and something. It pairs really well with the grilled onions and cheese. Not too mention those addictive fries.

                                          Of course, if you are looking for the "cooked to order" burger (i.e., medium rare or less), head across Commonwealth Ave. to Eastern Standard, over to the Back Bay for Abe & Louie's, or to any of the many other delicios places to get a burger.

                                3. n
                                  nomdeplume Jul 11, 2007 10:25 AM

                                  Beyond the burger, what's with the buns? I would think they would have something a bit better than a supermarket bun.

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