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Whatever happened to the 'old fashioned hamburger'?

  • c

I know I'll probably get slammed for this but here goes.

Maybe it's just me. But I don't understand what seems to me to be the current trend and obsession of finding the so-called 'perfect burger'. And that perfect burger seems to be a combination of a "mile high...sometimes multi pattied multi cheesed... and or with a plethora of exotic condiments" added burger so that you have to smash it down with your hands just to get your mouth around it. Yes, I've commented about this on several posts where some chowhounders obsessively and endlessly are running around from trendy upscale restaurant to trendy upscale restaurant seeking out this/their idea of a perfect burger and spending what has to be considered a fortune on something that is just another attempt to make a simple cheap food more expensive and complicated than it needs to be.

Sure I understand that like everything else food, the preparation of food, and specific food items over time are subject to change. And I understand there are those for whom searching out and trying all these over the top exotic burgers is what they like and like to do. But at least for me I look at it as some changes are good, and some are not so good. I find it hard to understand how great a hamburger can be that you have to smash it down thinning the bottom bun in which the patty lies into the patty's ultra thin doughie grease pit.

I just think a burger shouldn't be anymore exotic than adding some bacon and avocado to a great char broild cheese burger with fresh lettuce & tomato and a good Thousand Island dressing all on a toasted sesseme seed bun. And the hamburger patty doesn't need to be so thick as to overwhelm the other ingredients of the sandwich. And man, do I miss what use to be considered one of the great burger dinner combos...The Big Boy Burger Combo. A great tasting burger with that red hamburger relish...fresh crispy fries, and dinner salad with that great Bob's Big Blue Cheese dressing! Yes I know it was a 'double patty' burger, but you could still get your mouth around the burger without smashing it down. Yeah, I'm dating myself but hey I know a great old fashioned burger when I taste one!

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  1. "...just another attempt to make a simple cheap food more expensive and complicated than it needs to be."

    Not to mention more calorie-laden!

    1. I agree. But to me the "best" burger is one grilled at home, placed on a bun, salt, pepper, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion....nothing more! If I want a "great" burger, I prepare it at home. There is only one fast food burger I'll eat, and that's Wendy's Single with ONLY the above mentioned additions. That's not a frequent stop, either. Only when I'm starving, and want something fast, doesn't kill a budget, and is simple, down to earth food.

      1. In the LA area, there's a place called TOPZ (not to be confused with Tops) and they have awesome "old fashioned" burgers. Even their buns are great. I think they are franchised and may have a few more around the country. If you can find one, they are great.

        1. CRT

          your post did bring a smile to jfood's face. when he read the title he thought it would be a real old fashioned request for a burger on a roll with maybe some cheese. But jfood, who has been eating hamburgers for 50 years never would have included avocado and "old fashioned" in the same sentence but it sounds really, really good.

          So if the definition of "old fashioned" is lettuce, tomato, bacon, cheese, avocado with some thousand island dressing on a sesame bun, jfood is jealous of the neighborhood you grew up in. Sounds like an awesome combo.

          But in jfood-land an old fashioned burger is bacon cheese and ketchup on a roll. And these are served in casa jfood all the time. And jfood agrees that there are very few items better than a good old fashioned burger.

          11 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            See now, MY interpretation of an Old Fashioned Burger is:
            The bun, the burger, spicy brown mustard. (You know the one.)
            Period.

            1. re: Gio

              oh boy. the dispute in casa jfood is exactly the mustard versus ketchup on burgers. mrs jfood votes mustard and jfood ketchup.

              and for a great old fashioned burger jfood recommends Cammelia Grill in NOLA.

              1. re: jfood

                Well then, I'm in mrs jfood's camp, happily.. Grilled is best too!

                1. re: Gio

                  Bah humbug to the 'stard. :-)).

                  Agreed that old fashioned also means cooked on a scorching BBQ grill. place the burger on, leave it alone until juice appears on top, flip once, cooked to med-rare. let rest for a couple of minutes and serve. tough to beat.

                2. re: jfood

                  You're both wrong ;>

                  The proper application is a little yellow mustard and a big blob of ketchup. Sharp cheddar cheese, bun scorched a bit by the grill, lettuce, tomato, thin slivers of red onion. And maybe a few pickled jalapeno slices.

                  1. re: dalaimama

                    I was with you up until the jalapeno slices. Substitute in a bit of pickle relish and it's perfect.

                    1. re: dalaimama

                      "wrong"? Very un-dalai-like ms mama. :-))

                      every hamburger that brings a smile is a "right" burger. If you like pickled jalapeno slices, go for it (jfood can't remember any place serving those in the 60's, but hey jfood's from NJ).

                      That's why when jfood serves a platter of burgers he serves plain and cheese and then places on the table, onion, fried onions, tomato, lettuce, bacon, mayo, ketchup, mustard. Let the buyer choose and enjoy.

                      1. re: jfood

                        By the way jfood, I tried the water in the burger thing and they came out great! Thanks...

                        1. re: valerie

                          Glad to help, now try it in meatballs (they use more). The smiles are worth every piece of grief you will receive when you tell people the "secret" ingredient is water.

                3. re: jfood

                  Bingo, jfood. That (a grilled medium-rare burger, bacon, sharp cheese, and ketchup on a roll) is the epitome of a "perfect burger".

                4. crt, I guess I'm old too. I totally remember the old Big Boy combo at Bob's and it WAS really good. I even remember the drive-in with car hops (grew up in Burbank)! Now I settle for In-n-Out to satisfy any similar craving.

                  But for a good, old-fashioned, homestyle burger, you should head up to Houston's in Irvine. It's a char-grilled 1/2 pound of chuck, hand patted fresh on site, cooked as you like it (medium for me) with cheddar cheese, on a sesame bun with a bit of mayo, a bit of mustard, chopped red onions, shredded lettuce, tomato and pickle slices. Customize it however you want. Great skinny fries, too. Not cheap, but pretty much the best burger around IMHO. We eat there weekly, and get a burger there at least once a month (we're in south county).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: FoodWineTravel

                    I agree--Houston's has the best burger. Period.