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SD Dish of the Month - July 2013 [The Burger!]

  • c

So the June 2013 prototype test showed that there was good activity for about 2 weeks, in the 'category' theme, pretty good I'd say.

July, being a patriotic month, I was thinking a great patriotic category would be:


It could be beef, buffalo, lamb, wild boar, veggie (for BC!!), salmon, pork, chic, turkey etc. you get the picture ! This could lead to some interesting finds and great banter. A bonus would be, if it is also accompanied by an awesome fry. Plus let's not forget the bun, gotta come to the party to enhance the experience and make it a total package!

Happy Chow'n!

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  1. Thanks Sledge!
    DH had a bison burger at Currant last month and said it was delicious.
    Love me a veggie burger on a brioche bun but they are hard to find..

    1. I could buy into burger month

      1. A perfect excuse for me to go and try some of the burger offerings at Currant.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsedixit

          The duck burger caught my eye. Wonder if they blend the meat.

        2. This is an interesting choice for the Dish of the Month, seeing as how SD is ranked as one of the top places in the country for hamburgers, and by extension one of the best in the world! I'll seek one out -- come July.

          1 Reply
          1. re: DoctorChow

            True DC, there should be no shortage of burger places to try out.

          2. I'm nearly at the point of boycotting burgers altogether, and having recently ended a 6-day backroads moto adventure of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California, I'm done with them.

            But Mr12 has recently had a success or two, and I told him we'd go for burgers. Our usual place is Burger Lounge, and I was suprised to hear him quite enthusiastic about 5 Guys. So off we go, and look for his words soon in another post.

            I thought the burgers were "good", but not great. Good meat flavor, but crappy cheese and (my bad) the "everything on it" comes with ketchup, mayo (ok so far) AND mustard. I'm an either/or guy- mustard is a hot dog condiment.

            Overall, they were better than in-and-out, if that means anything.

            Fries were "not good". The Coke Zero was just fine. I liked the free in-shell peanuts.

            1. From Mr12:

              Five Guys.

              What can I say about Five Guys?

              More than needed.

              When you first bite down in to a Five Guys burger, you get what you've expected. A burger.
              But this is no ordinary burger.

              I had the bacon cheeseburger, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. The cheese (which is put between two patties) melts in to the cracks in the patties, unlike a Burger Lounge burger, where the cheese pretty much stays rigid. The bacon adds an element of crunchy that Burger Lounge can't replicate.

              Anyone who has had a Five Guys burger will know what I'm saying when I say it's the best burger around. This company has created something unrivaled by any other. But to find that out you need to try it yourself.

              18 Replies
              1. re: Fake Name

                Mm'kay. After two weeks in the street food elysium that is Taiwan, I want a burger. I will try Five Guys.

                Can I boost the Starlite burger without actually having been there this month? It's pretty fucking excellent.


                BTW- there's a chain in Taiwan called Mosburger. They compress rice into bun-shapes and then fill it up to USA standards with beef, lettuce and Special Sauce. Pretty good, especially when taken on a high provided by the high speed rail service that I wish we had here in California.

                Go to Taiwan. Just, go there. And eat.

                1. re: SaltyRaisins

                  Speaking of Taiwan ... I wish we could find a burger with stinky tofu here.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    That'd be a DIY item. Sucks, since all the work involved in the street food scene makes doing it at home "not the same." Like, the intricate little shopping lists the dude making eel noodles on the corner must have.

                    I'd settle for a nice assortment of small fish instead of the large fillet pieces we favor over here. A bucket 'o baby cuttlefish shaped into a burger patty and yakitori grilled would be pretty cool...

                    Get high on these babies:


                    click on the video link for a larf.

                      1. re: cstr

                        I've actually made these at home.

                        I've also made meatballs with stinky tofu blended into the meat.

                        Good stuff.

                    1. re: SaltyRaisins

                      MOS Burger is originally from Japan, where it is everywhere here. They really push the envelope on fast food. Not particularly great in an American way, but distinctive for sure.
                      Here is their HQ site in English

                      1. re: SaltyRaisins

                        Just FYI,

                        There is a outlet of MOS Burger in, of all unlikely places, a residential neighborhood in Santa Ana.


                      2. re: Fake Name

                        I ate at Five Guys in Liberty Station about a year ago. I was not impressed with their burger - at all. If I find myself craving a burger in the area, I'll hit up Slater's 50/50 before Five Guys.

                        1. re: phee

                          I concur, but I think they are different animals.

                          Five Guys is relative fast food, ala In-N-Out. Slaters, Eureka - sit-down joints with bars. Essentially, Five Guys is the most expensive fast food burger out there. Is it as good as In-N-Out? Hard to say - preferences vary. I thought it was pretty tasty. Is it good enough to be twice as expensive as In-N-Out? Not in my opinion. They seems to have a medium well to well done cooking policy, and rarely can you get them to even cook it medium.

                          Also, the fact that they refuse to have a half-order fry option is simply stupid. Sharing an order of fries works when you are eating with somebody, but they are way too much for dining alone (which many of us do for lunch) - unless you only get fries.

                          1. re: RB Hound

                            "Is it as good as In-N-Out?" - Good and In-N-Out should never be in one sentence. Yes, it is a little bit better than perhaps McD (but that's not really difficult) but still a really crappy burger.

                            1. re: honkman

                              Don't be so German - you could be talking about something horrible and the phrase "as good as" still is applicable.

                              1. re: honkman

                                Good and In-N-Out should never be in one sentence.

                                It's better than Burger Lounge.

                                See? I didn't even use "good" and "In-N-Out" in the same sentence.

                                Win, win.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Better than Burger Lounge ? I don't think so. Just comparing the taste of cafo beef to grass-fed beef makes the burger at In-n-Out mediocre.

                                  1. re: honkman

                                    I haven't had enough grass-fed burgers to have a definitive opinion about them, but I will say that Burger Lounge tastes like an average fast-food burger to me.

                                    1. re: honkman

                                      Burger Lounge burgers taste like baby food. I expect more for a $10 burger.

                                2. re: RB Hound

                                  Okay, I'll concede to "different animals". I still didn't care for the burger, but I'm willing to give it another go. Maybe a different location.

                                  1. re: phee

                                    I didn't say it was worth giving it a second shot. One thing I've noticed when reading the Five Guys threads is that you see a lot of variability from restaurant to restaurant.

                                    1. re: phee

                                      Great concept try, post and then try again to verify!

                              2. We found ourselves out San Marcos way to buy some meat at T&H and ended up having lunch at San Marcos Brewery in Restaurant Row (which I haven't been to in almost a decade).

                                While The Man and I ordered chicken wings and snausages, our older kids ended up ordering burgers, and they ended up being some of the best restaurant burgers we've tasted in recent memory.

                                The classic with Swiss for the girlchild, and the BBQ Ranch for the boychild. Perfectly pink medium rare on fresh brioche-like buns.

                                Would not hesitate to go back for burgers if in the area again. (And the chicken wings weren't half bad, either!)

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: inaplasticcup

                                  Oops. Second cuppa hasn't kicked in yet. Just realized this is for July. Can we pretend I ate and posted this tomorrow on the correct thread?

                                  Sorry. :/

                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                    I'm not the Burger Nazi, you're good and those burgers looked mighty fine. Please continue to contribute to this humble thread. Noticed they even have a turkey burger for BC.

                                    1. re: cstr

                                      C, why don't you set up a new thread for burger posting so this one doesn't get too big and unweildy. I suspect you'll get a goody number of burger reports over 31 days. A dedicated thread would keep them all neat and tidy

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        Done. Hounds , please post to the new thread, ciao!

                                        1. re: cstr

                                          Hey, cstr, what happened to the new thread? It seems to have disappeared...

                                  2. re: inaplasticcup

                                    +1 for San Marcos Brewery. We're in inland S.D., and we're so happy when we find something in our vicinity that's worthy of a return trip. Hmm, after my Weight Watchers weigh in, there might be a trip to the Brewery in our future!

                                  3. So, just out of curiosity and before we embark upon 31 days of all burgers all the time, what makes a burger a good burger. Not trying to set any standards or guidelines, I'd just like to know what makes it a good burger for you? I doubt any two of us like 'em the same way, so what makes them good for you?

                                    I'll start...
                                    I like a thickish burger patty, lightly seasoned decent amount of fat. I don't want the center stuffed with anything and I don't want it too lean. No charbroiler for me, get that flat top nice and hot and drop that puppy on so it can get a good crust. Let it fry up in the fat that renders out. Flip and finish so that the outside is brown and crusty and the center pink and juicy. And I'll take just about any type of cheese on it from generic American to fancy blue, but hold the goat cheese (which has NO business on a burger)

                                    Something between one of those namby-pampy wimpy white bread buns and a too chewy ciabatta roll works for me, so if it's brioche or sourdough/frenchish that's a good base. A hamburg bun is a hamburg bun, don't get too artsy-fartsy with it for me. It's about the meat, not the bread. I just don't want the thing to fall apart because the bun wasn't up to snuff.

                                    Toppings and garnishes? I'm a minimalist...sturdy lettuce, no tomato, thinly sliced red onion and bacon only if it's bacon jam...who needs the whole strip of bacon coming out with the first bite because it wasn't cooked crisply enough. Whisper of mayo, or god forbid, Miracle Whip on the bottom bun, a dab of Dijon on top of the burger patty followed by a squirt of Heinz catsup, a few red onions, a little raft of iceberg and I'm a happy girl.

                                    Dill pickle spear(s) on the side along with some thick cut steak fries and more Heinz.

                                    So what say you all...how is YOUR favorite burger made

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: DiningDiva


                                      I am meat centric also, I like the burger to be juicy and I leave the lettuce, tomatoes on the side, but I like sweet red onions in the bun and avocado and bacon - but not too much, just a small-portioned add-on.

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        I like my beef burger rare, so the meat has to be tops, I want to taste the beefiness! Never ketchup, maybe a smear of good grainy mustard or mayo (NO MW!!). Occasionally, thick cut bacon. I fold the strips in to conform to the shape of the burger, I get what you're saying about bacon DD, possibly a nutty tasting cheese (Gruyere). Bun has to perform, no white burger buns and no real hard crusty ciabatta or sweet brioche.

                                        BTW - the mods blew away my new thread, so I guess we're stuck using this original one.

                                        I've got my sights set on 4 places to visit.

                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                          Grassfed beef (medium rare), just a little bit of mayo and ketchup, brioche bun (or at least not one of these horrible, without any flavor standard hamburger buns with some sesame sprinkled on top) "creative" toppings, e.g. avocado, foie gras, mushrooms, egg etc

                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                            Grilled grass-fed beef or bison - medium rare, nice leaf of romaine, slice of beefsteak tomato, and a good cheddar melted on during the final stages of grilling. Bacon is good, but I like mine crisp so it usually gets crumbled into the catsup once I smear it on the bun. A thin spread of Dijon and all on a formidable bun (preferable sourdough). I hate when the buns are too soft or too stiff. I, too, prefer my dill pickles on the side in spear form (bite of burger, bite of pickle, rinse and repeat). I occasionally like onion on it, but a very thin slice of red. Onion often overpowers the overall taste because they slice it too thick!

                                            My biggest problem is I make better hamburger buns than those most places serve their burgers on, so I usually don't order burgers when I'm out.

                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                              Ever since GJ’s mouthwatering description of a burger she’d had, I’d been salivating for one. So, I cheated a little and jumped on the July Dish of the Month on Friday. Will post tomorrow morning (on the new thread), but it’s pretty close to exactly the way I like a burger.

                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                Well...one of the reasons I'm interested in Dish of the Month and thus this ("thus this"- sheer genius!) thread is that it forces me to step outside my 'burger paradigm and try to work on my acceptance.

                                                My acceptance of the unusual, the uncomfortable, the creative impulse of others. To set aside my preconceptions of exactly what a 'burger "should be" and welcome, arms open, other possibilities.

                                                So we'll see....

                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                    I wouldn't expect anything short of 'thus this' from you. We all await to hear of your adventure for the most unusual!

                                                  2. re: DiningDiva

                                                    Freshly ground meat, hand formed, loosely, seasoned with salt pepper.

                                                    NO butter. NO cheese. Ever.

                                                    No greens, or tomatoes. Caramelized onions are ok.

                                                    Brioche or potato bun. Never sourdough.

                                                    Mustard. No ketchup. No mayo. Ever.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Interesting, ipse. Do you also dislike butter on steaks? Just asking.

                                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                                        I disklike butter on everything. In fact, I kind of hate it, esp. on steak (or any type of meat, fish, fowl, etc.)

                                                        Even when baking, if I can get away with lard, oil, or shortening, all the better.

                                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                                          Uh huh, OK. Well, fair enough. I, on the other hand, am a butter fan. So I was really just curious. So I can see how you would define a quality burger as being sans butter. I think this is going to be an interesting (and revealing) "Dish of the Month" month!

                                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                                            Yeah, +1 BC. love LOVE all versions of mayo on anything. (but not Miracle Whip).

                                                          2. re: ipsedixit

                                                            Butter?? How do you like it cooked?

                                                        2. And a reminder of what is in store for us during July


                                                          The last 10 are particularly onerous

                                                          4 Replies
                                                            1. re: DoctorChow

                                                              Naw, just remember Julia Child's old adage...moderation. If we each have a couple of burgers over the course of 31 days we're not going to do a huge amount of harm, particularly if we eat well in between and move some energy.

                                                              If we all chose to eat 31 burgers over the course of the month, we'll all be at Sea World applying to replace Shamu

                                                            2. re: DiningDiva

                                                              Hate to say it but, of all mentioned in the article, Krispy Kreme looked the best! As for the burger, I've seen individuals eating salads that have more fat, calories etc than a burger, so no guilt here.

                                                              1. re: cstr

                                                                Most of those salads are unreal - especially when it is crispy whatever with a sweet dressing. The ahi tuna salads usually come out looking best on the nutritional lists.

                                                            3. Is anyone planning on having a burger with a doughnut for the bun at midnight to celebrate the dish of the month intersection?

                                                              1. As requested, we removed some of the discussion that was talking about Dish of the Month as a process rather than Burgers as Dish of the Month.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                  Thanks Mods, just what I wanted to accomplish.

                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                      This is it DC, let's make it a great run!

                                                                      1. re: cstr

                                                                        I thought so but was waiting for you to confirm. Thanks! Better this way -- less confusion.

                                                                2. So I've been to Eureka Burger in the remodeled UTC mall and its quickly becoming one of my favorite places.

                                                                  Although they don't use grass fed beef, they do have a bison burger that you can substitute to the other burgers, so there is that option available for the grass fed lovers.

                                                                  When you ask for the burger to be cooked medium rare, they actually make it medium rare. The burger meat actually tastes pretty good also and I suspect a meat to fat ratio of up to 75/25. My one small complaint is that the bun to meat ratio favors the bun a little too much, but it is not incredibly over-proportionate.

                                                                  What I really like about the place is they have a selection of about 20+ whiskies and you can order a flight of 4 for $22.

                                                                  1. Jeff's Burgers (La Jolla Shores)
                                                                    Went here yesterday completely unexpectedly - coworker owed me a lunch and had fond memories of Jeff's from his initial stint in SD, 6 years ago.
                                                                    I know this is more of an institution than a destination, but it really wasn't that great and didn't match his expectations, based on previous visits.
                                                                    The Good - Double Cheese Burger is a good size for $5; people watching is fun.
                                                                    The Bad - obviously pre-formed, thin frozen patties; white lettuce bits with unripe tomato; big, mealy bun (bun to meat ratio was probably 5:1, even with 2 patties).
                                                                    Glad I finally went, since I had heard about so much (again as an institution), but I won't bother to go back.

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: CampySD

                                                                      I think Jeff's burgers becomes outstanding after swimming and boogie boarding for hours and your famished.

                                                                      I don't think I've ever been when I wasn't in a wet bathing suit/sarong and flip flops..sorry for the visual.. ; )

                                                                      You're co-worker should of stepped it up and bought lunch at Piatti's..

                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                        "wet bathing suit/sarong and flip flops.."

                                                                        For me, everything tastes better when I dress this way.

                                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                                          Do you still wear that Speedo in KTM Orange with your prized 'zories'..that's a good look on you!


                                                                        2. re: Beach Chick

                                                                          Like I said, institution vs destination. I'd likely go back with a crew fresh off the kayaks or boards, if I had forgotten my packed lunch...

                                                                          I had suggested a 'bertos for lunch, so Jeff's was actually a step up!

                                                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                            That's how I feel about Rocky's; I enjoy their burgers after a long day of kayaking,

                                                                        3. Decided to go someplace I’ve been before but haven’t had their burger. So I went to Luce, ordered a “Luce Burger”, and requested it cooked “a little on the rare side of medium”. Good thing that I like cannibal burgers because that’s essentially what came to the table. The burger was about an inch thick, and of that less than a 1/16 of an inch on each side was browned. The interior was straight-up lukewarm raw beef. Very good straight-up lukewarm raw beef, so that was fine. But be forewarned. To be honest, I would ask for it the same way again.

                                                                          The toppings were excellent. There was just the right amount (meaning, for me, not much) of delicate fresh greens (arugula), a layer of melted mild white cheddar, and soft but firm caramelized onions, plus little slivers of fresh tomato. The bun was a sturdy, lightly buttered and briefly grilled brioche that held everything together quite well. The assembled sandwich looked a lot like the one that inaplasticcup had at San Marcos Brewery (the one in the left picture), but without the raw onion slice.

                                                                          The fries were another story. On the plus side, the potatoes were of good quality and had been cut with the skins still on. They were properly fried, firm but not crispy, the way I like them, with a good, earthy potato flavor. My order must have been at the end of a batch though, because most of the fries I got were only about 1/2 - 1 inch long. They had a granular coating that I thought was finely minced roasted garlic, but turned out to be totally flavorless. If these were supposed to be garlic fries, then the chef must have forgotten the garlic. Luckily there was a side of aioli sauce for the burger that came with the plate, which I used as a dipping sauce for the fries. They really needed help (and the burger wasn’t crying out for it), so that worked out well.

                                                                          I was surprised that the plate also came with a side of ketchup, which if accidentally used would have completely destroyed the delicate blend of flavors that make this kind of burger rendition special. The fact that it was a default side was a negative for me. I usually like ketchup with burgers, but not with those that have smooth, delicate, carefully-balanced flavors like this one. Yuk. I gently pushed it aside.

                                                                          Overall, a darn good burger but so-so fries, so I’d say just a tad expensive at $12. (A better deal during happy hours at $10.) Had a nice on-tap localbrau to flush it down.

                                                                          1. Iknow, I know, I have posted about this before, but Boll Weevil in Imperial Beach on Palm in the Von's/Home Depot center makes a very good burger with your choice of size and many choices of flavorings. Everything, including the onion rings and French fries are prepared fresh to order.

                                                                            Adding in very friendly and good service, a pool table and several flat screen TVs showing sports events with lots of regulars going in and out, you have a lively but not overwhelmingly loud dining experience.

                                                                            We enjoyed lunch there two weeks ago and we will go again next week during our trip from Baja to shop in SD.

                                                                            1. Well, we went to Stacked in Fashion Valley. I don't know the food tastes, but I can tell you the service, or lack thereof, is lackluster. They have an IPad ordering system, so if you actually want service, you have to tell the staff you would prefer service. The menus do not have prices, because they are on the IPad. Call us old fashioned, but we dine out to dine, not play on the computer. We left.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Dagney

                                                                                You missed out on one of the few places in SD where you can order a burger medium rare and be sure that message gets to a kitchen that (in my experience) will consistently execute the request. All for being old fashioned :).

                                                                                I will defer any discussion of the burgers until I have one in July so as not to derail the thread any further.

                                                                                1. re: JRSD

                                                                                  You can get medium rare burgers without problem at places like Burger Lounge, Farmhouse Cafe, Jayne's, Urban Solace, Linkery, Starlite, Alchemy etc.

                                                                                  1. re: JRSD

                                                                                    Our burger contribution will have to wait one week until our days off next week...

                                                                                    Back to Stacked we won't be, as it lacked the proper tact.

                                                                                2. Burger Lounge today with Mr12 and his friend Ms12. A few tweaks to the menu there- they now have the "Lounge Burger" as before, but now also a "Classic" that has no 1000 Island Dressing. It does, however, have mustard. What is it about mustard and burgers? Just not right.

                                                                                  I enjoyed it in spite of the yellow condiment- good pickles. A far better burger than 5Guys, regardless of Mr12's opinion.

                                                                                  Fries sucked. Milkshakes pretty good. Beer just fine.

                                                                                  18 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                    Couldn't opt out of the mustard? Why? factory Standard Equipment? Don't you just like a fries that aren't worth serving.

                                                                                    1. re: cstr

                                                                                      Yes, BL is very good about customization. I'm just not very good about reading the menu board and the list of ingredients.

                                                                                      In all fairness to myself (I try to be most fair to myself, the devil with everyone else!) the sunglasses I was wearing for our bicycle ride that day are great eye protection- optical quality and the proper integration of my complicated progressive lens prescription is a distant second place.

                                                                                      This, coupled with my disbelief that anyone would dare to use the yellow condiment on a burger ( hot dog, fine) permitted me the indulgence of unconsidering the possibility.

                                                                                      Imagine my dismay at the discovery I'd made the same mistake twice in one week, fooled me twice, shame on George Bush. Or whomever.

                                                                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                        Yellow mustard is too vinegary for beef, the flavor clashes, and the color isn't very appetizing in that combination either, IMO. So I agree. But a lot of people seem to like it. Yes, "factory standard equipment", as cstr put it, on the fast-food burgers, I think, and even at a place like Burger Lounge. But thinking about it, I do like a soft, smooth horseradish sauce with beef (prime rib), so I wonder if there are any interesting horseradish mustards out there that might be tasty on a "conventional" burger (lettuce, onion, pickle, tomato)? A little hard to immagine, but then I'm not a Mustard Expert, that's for sure, so maybe. Open question.

                                                                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                          This week, I've been to two different Independence Day parties and had two horseradish mustards: Beaver brand and Fresh and Easy brand.

                                                                                          I'd have to taste-test side by side, but liked each with each burger (which I ate without bread)-nice, smooth and it went with the meat.

                                                                                          1. re: Cathy

                                                                                            Good to know and must try! I've written down the brands. I've had "Beer and Brat" (brand) mustard on bratwurst and hot dogs before, but that one seems like it would be a bit strong for beef. I wonder if there are any restaurants that serve burgers with the softer kind of horseradish mustard you had this week?

                                                                                            1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                              A good coarse grained mustard can do wonders (sometimes) to a burger.

                                                                                              But a generic Yellow mustard is not a good condiment for burgers.

                                                                                              Don't get me wrong, I love mustards of all stripes (Yellow included), but not always on burgers.

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                So I wonder why you don't see coarse grained mustard, or smooth horseradish mustard, or for that matter a nice smooth pure horseradish sauce like Heinz (yes Heinz, my personal favorite, hard to find but available at Albertson's of all places) on burgers served at restaurants? Or maybe there are restaurants out there that do them that way and I'm just ignorant of them?

                                                                                                1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                  Sure, there are restaurants that offer both types of mustard, as well as others.

                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                    Ipse, at these places, is it part of the burger creation as offered on the menu, or simply made available if specially requested? I'm thinking about the former -- a burger that's been specifically designed for horseradish or coarse-grained mustard (in other words, comes with it by default) or, better yet, horseradish sauce. If there are such restaurants -- and don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to "call" you on this -- could you name one, please? I'll go out for a second Dish of the Month!

                                                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                      Burger Joint and Korzo Huas, both in NYC, use specialty mustards, the latter using an organic ale mustard.

                                                                                                      Fusion Burger in LA has both a burger with mustard aioli as well as one that comes with Dijon.

                                                                                                      Bourbon Steak's burger (on the lunch menu) comes with a mustard based secret sauce.

                                                                                                      Umami Burger has several burgers that come with specialty mustards, including with a whole grain mustard vinaigrette.

                                                                                                      There are probably others I'm forgetting, but those come immediately to mind.

                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                        Well, ummm.., OK, thanks. I guess I was thinking in San Diego, though.

                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                            Thanks! If it weren't so late and I hadn't had so many maragritas and patriotic beers (Sam Adams, of course!), I'd be on my way.

                                                                                                            1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                              Specialty mustards and horseradish sauce.

                                                                                                              A win-win for you.

                                                                                                  2. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                    Because the cost of specialty mustards can be 3 to 4 (or more) times that of good old yellow mustard and the demand for it just isn't there.

                                                                                                    Yellow mustard is a very, very inexpensive condiment. Specialty mustards are not. Most burger joints are in this to make money, not cater to non-mainstream tastes

                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                      Just like prime grade beef, or dry-aged beef.

                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                        Exactly. Restaurants are a business like any other. They have to defer to the tastes vs. wealth of their client base or they'll collapse. I'm not broaching a sidebar on the subject, but that's the why I've said before that the socio-economic/political environment of any region greatly influences what ends up coming to the tables in the local restaurants. It's important to us. The good news is, I've learned of at least one place in SD that puts horseradish aoili on one of their burgers. I will go, I will order, I will conquer. (Memo to Shamu: Your job may be in jeaprody.)

                                                                                            2. re: Fake Name

                                                                                              Just think, one day (soon?) you'll be viewing that same menu, with your high-tech eye wear, pointing to the what you think is a burger but, you'll end up with a liverwurst, onion with YELLOW MUSTARD!!

                                                                                        2. Market research with one of my subordinate managers at lunch today in UTC. We stopped in to the food court and tried Simon's Burger Co. This is a build your own burger place.

                                                                                          Meat choices are - chicken, turkey, beef (Angus), salmon or veggie, fish or bulgogi

                                                                                          Bun choices are - wheat, brioche, onion, Amish (no we don't know what that is)

                                                                                          Cheese - all a $.50 upsell, but the usual suspects, American, Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Swiss, etc.

                                                                                          Garnishes - lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles,

                                                                                          Secret sauce - 1,000 Island dressing

                                                                                          We ordered a turkey burger on a wheat bun, no cheese, and an Angus beef burger on brioche with cheddar. All burgers are seasoned with a mixture of salt/pepper/granulated garlic. The burgers are started on a charbroiler and moved to a flat top to be finished. The burger is then passed to the back to be finished. The buns are hand split, buttered and then lightly grilled on the flattop prior to the patty going on to it.

                                                                                          The turkey burger was a winner, the beef burger not so much. Both came with generous amounts of fresh green leaf lettuce, two thin slices of tomato and some very thinly sliced onions that had no bite to them.

                                                                                          The turkey burger had good flavor, worked well with our choice of the whole wheat bun, tho' the burger patty wanted to crumble some when we cut it.

                                                                                          The beef burger was bland, bland, bland. It was also totally overwhelmed and lost in the broiche bun. The patty itself is fairly thin, so with a large fluffy bun, the bun to meat ratio was off. Everything in this burger was actually quite good, EXCEPT the meat :-(

                                                                                          If I was at UTC, I would be willing to eat there again, but I would order a burger other than the standard hamburger

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                            Next time you are at UTC, try Eureka burger instead

                                                                                            1. re: karaethon

                                                                                              It's on the radar but have heard multiple reports of atrocious service and on a lunch break, slow and inattentive service isn't ideal.

                                                                                              We were actually in the mall to check out the Woodstone oven at the flatbread place and the "Mongrill" concept. Not terribly impressed with the mongolian grill, but they were doing a land office business.

                                                                                          2. Met up with some out-of-town friends for lunch at Urban Solace to while away our Independence Day. Had the Griddle Burger, which was rather disappointing - it was definitely much better in the past. Ordered medium rare, it arrived medium (although this happens far too often everywhere, I never send a burger back for this - don't want to contribute to wastage). Lettuce was not crispy either. At least the egg bun was nice and sturdy, and the filling:bread ratio was correct. Fries were not crispy :(

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: shouzen

                                                                                              That's surprises me for Urban Solace. Maybe it was due to the holiday? (I want to hope so.) As to the fries, tastes vary, of course. I actually like fries that are (just) on the short side of crispy.

                                                                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                The burger was always one of the weak spots at US (as well as their steak tartare and cocktails)

                                                                                              2. re: shouzen

                                                                                                Never really fully understood the love for Urban Solace here.

                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                  I think they've been better in the past, and are in a decline. Or maybe I'm just being soft..

                                                                                              3. Went to Caroline's at Scripps today, Mr12 had the Seaside Burger with bacon and bleu cheese.

                                                                                                It was ok. He's easily impressed by bacon.


                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                  Interesting to see the size comparison of Mr12's head to the burger. Any brain games photo trickery used?

                                                                                                  1. re: cstr

                                                                                                    Anytime one represents a three-dimensional scene in a two-dimensional space, trickery is involved. You're durn tootin'.

                                                                                                    In this iPhone image (all of them are- iPhone or iPad) the trickery is both simple and olde skool. Foreshortening is forced by moving the subject (burger) far closer to the lens, increasing the foreground/background distance. Even a simple-lensed camera like the iphone will create some depth-of-field trompe l'oeil effects. The edges of the frame are further defocused to add to the effect.

                                                                                                    But no transform/scale/spherize or other modern conveniences were used. Could just as easily been shot on a Brownie.

                                                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                        His mom is genetically responsible for his good looks and sweet disposition.

                                                                                                        1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                          Careful BC !!!! Let's concentrate on the burger specimen. However, he does like bacon, a great start for a young CH'er!

                                                                                                        2. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                          Por Díos, please never use your iPad to take a photo.

                                                                                                    1. Had a great lamb burger at Bareback Grill in PB. Ordered medium, was nice and juicy with a good mild lambie gamie flavor. Good bun, able to hold everything well yet, not too crusty. Stick fries, not my fav but, they were tossed in cracked black pepper. That and a draftie, I'm happy.

                                                                                                      1. Torrey Pints, inside the La Jolla Whole Foods. 1/3+ lb burger, grass fed, cooked medium rare, served on a Sadie Rose pretzel bun with lettuce, tomato and onion and a lot of perfectly fried shoestring fries. Cooked medium rare, as requested. *Wonderful* flavor, perfect bun to burger ratio...maybe more burger than bun actually.

                                                                                                        On Thursday, it's the special and comes with anything on tap (size of glass is smaller than a pint) (we chose a Julian Cider) $10. Other days of the week, burger and fries alone is $9.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. Lunch on the terrace at The Pony Room at Rancho Valencia yesterday. Husband ordered the burger. Nice brioche bun, thick, perfectly cooked patty (med-rare) topped with house-cured pancetta, Chino sliced tomato, shaved onion, lettuce and house sauce (no cheese was offered ;( ). Accompanying fries were hot and crisp perfection. Burger was very good, no crumbs left behind.

                                                                                                          Having said that, the bite that I had was not my favorite. I like cheese on my burger...and there was WAY too much truffle "essence" going on for my particular taste.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                            I've tried the kobe beef sliders at Pony Room and this is yet another place--at least on the one occasion I ordered them--that has not mastered the definition of medium rare (was overcooked, medium well).

                                                                                                            On the other hand, their carne asada tacos with cotija cheese are unbelievably addictive and fantastic. It is not necessary for carne asada to be medium rare. Pony Room does a fantastic and consistent job of executing these tacos everytime.

                                                                                                          2. Would be nice if there would be more places that hired chefs who passed Chapter 1 of Cooking school and were able to c-o-n-s-i-s-t-e-n-t-l-y master the difference between medium rare and well done. For a meat eater who eats a hamburger for the sake and flavor of the meat--not something covered with 20 different toppings that masquerades the flavor of the meat--this is very important.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: El Chevere

                                                                                                              Though I agree with you, El Chevere, shouldn't you qualify that at a lot of places you really don't want that hamburger medium rare? :)

                                                                                                              1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                                If a place insists on cooking their burgers no less than well done then that tells me they are probably sourcing their meat from the same vendor as does Jack in the Box, in which case I have absolutely no interest in frequenting such an establishment.

                                                                                                            2. Had a burger at Public House in LJ. Good quality Angus beef, you know hormone free and all that, large 8oz patty done med rare. It had a good beef flavor. Bun was awful, it disintegrated into pieces after the 2nd bite, way too dry and airy. Fries were of the thin stick pretty average type. They have a good selection of craft beers.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                isn't this (or if ownership and business changed, wasn't it) run by the same guys who own Encinitas Ale House??...this is the location right around the corner from The Cottage, no?

                                                                                                                1. re: El Chevere

                                                                                                                  Yes and yes, though you could say it is next door to the Cottage, depending on your point of view. :)

                                                                                                              2. For Sunday brunch at Prep Kitchen Del Mar I very much enjoyed the burger "with WNL garnish" of bacon, gruyere, carmelized onions, remoulade and a tasty fried egg. I asked for it rare and it probably approached med rare, but was just as it needed to be. This is available at Whisknladle and all the Prep Kitchens (I think). Quite good.

                                                                                                                1. Fish Public.

                                                                                                                  I think it was called the old school KG (Kensington Grill) Burger, or something to that effect.

                                                                                                                  Competent Burger.

                                                                                                                  Med Rare
                                                                                                                  Grilled Onions

                                                                                                                  I cant crow about it too much but it better than average, same with the fries.

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Saabiar

                                                                                                                    I've been planning to go to Fish Public ever since it opened, but a $16 burger that's just "better than average"? Boo. Hiss. And more importantly, any burger at all at a "fish" (well, seafood) restaurant? Not to mention the bratwurst, tacos, pork belly, beef tartare, and BLT on the menu. Maybe good, but why not call it "Food Public" then? Also, I refuse to order anything on the "Atlantic" side of the menu due to western chauvanism; wish the Cape Cod motif were Kensington motif instead; and hope that the market fish is good. Will definitely go, but menu selection is limited to that one item. (I want FISH at Fish Public. Pacific fish. And definitely not a burger.)

                                                                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                      Well I think it's their attempt to appease the people that are still miffed about the changeover.

                                                                                                                      I have been here a handfull of times and it seems to get better each time, but still not great as I would like it to be as I live in the area. BTW, they have abandoned the pacific - atlantic layout of the menu.

                                                                                                                      I like the decor, it's a little cheesy but not entirely over the top. I am not entirely sure what a Kensington motif would like, although I would guess it would have to revolve around some seniors and a soccer mom with a jogging stroller and two dogs.

                                                                                                                      The last couple of times I have went the specials were pretty solid. One was a sea bass dish, the other scallops.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Saabiar

                                                                                                                        Your description of what a "Kensington motif" would be gave me a good laugh! Good one, thanks. I'm visualizing in my mind's eye a restaurant where the waiters are elderly dog-toting former soccer moms and the food is served from heavily-used '60s era strollers! Well, I'm glad things are getting better there, and am looking forward to going. Also glad they abandoned the Atlantic/Pacific thing. When I go, I'll try whatever market fish they're offering that day.

                                                                                                                  2. Just experienced the Cheers Burger at Cheers in Ramona. Long rumored to be the Best Burger in Ramona, I'm inclined to agree, having experienced one other burger there.

                                                                                                                    But this was a very tasty burger, Brett.

                                                                                                                    Solid bar burger- nothing fancy, but classic ingredients, no mustard good flavor, dill slices lengthwise in a crinkle pattern to maximize taste area.


                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                      Always happy for ratification. As a reminder, this was voted Best Burger In SD by some radio station 3 or 4 years back. FN's description is fitting -- "Solid bar burger." The meat is fresh from the Bisher's Meat across the street which IMHO is a big part of its appeal.

                                                                                                                    2. I was headed over to Azucar in OB to get a crawnut, they were out so I headed to Hodad's for yes a burger. No flames yet, the thing that I like is the bacon patty on the burger, thus I ordered a single cheese, bacon burger sans ketchup. Good burger, although messy, awesome crisp bacon patty, OK bun, pill pickles chips on the side and a cold draft. Happy....happy tummy!

                                                                                                                      1. The Counter (Del Mar)
                                                                                                                        Been before, but one of my colleagues hadn't, so we hit it up for lunch today. Place was pretty full, but we scored an outdoor table that had just been vacated. Didn't get anything exotic, all 3 of us had 1/3lb beef burgers, rare, with various topping choices. All the patties came out perfect, except that one got served as a "bowl" and had to get sent back to the kitchen to be "bunned". Nicely grilled on the outside with a warm, rare, center.
                                                                                                                        Also shared a plate of 50/50, regular fries and sweet potato fries. Service was friendly and prompt. I'd go more often, if I ate more burgers...

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: CampySD

                                                                                                                          They serve burgers as a "bowl"?

                                                                                                                          Banned for life.

                                                                                                                          1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                            It's probably their low carb burger, foodiechick. As long as they still have mostly the bunned version, there is no reason to ban them for this alone. They're just catering to their customer base.

                                                                                                                            (pretty cool - I just used all three of the "there" homophones)

                                                                                                                            1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                              Served on lettuce to accommodate the Atkin's/Wheat Belly/Gluten-free crowd, I guess... Not my cup of tea. but isn't this type of option more or less common everywhere now?

                                                                                                                          2. Went to Slater's 50/50 in Lib. Station today and ordered their 2/3 lb paddy melt. Service was slow. It took about 20 minutes after I placed my order for the burger to arrive. I'd ordered it cooked rare, but it came to the table medium in the very center, transitioning to medium-well on the outside, and well-done to burned around the edges. Due to the overcooking, the meat had lost most of its flavor and texture and was dry and crumbly. I think that the "horseradish aioli" spread was actually just a cream horseradish sauce, and it had been spread on only one part of the burger. The sauce was a little too pungent, though, and if the meat had been cooked properly might have overwhelmed the beef flavor. As it was, it was a flavorful, redeeming component. Melted cheeses were ok but nondescript. Grilled onions were ok but a little undercooked and cut a bit too wide for my taste. The rye bread was good, very thick slices properly grilled, and held up well, which is fortunate because this was a huge burger. The restaurant was very gracious and agreed that the burger had been way overcooked, and gave me some perks (free meal and a coupon). I have to hope that this was just an off day for the burger chef. I'll try Slater's again sometime, but not this month and not the paddy melt.

                                                                                                                            15 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                              Paddy Melt is always after me Lucky Charms.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                Aye, and it's a fortnight be-comin' before th' next, me-lad.

                                                                                                                                Ok, yes, it's "patty", not "paddy". I've signed up for a remedial spelling class. (In my defense, when I was a young boy, we used to call them "paddy" melts. Maybe I'm regressing.)

                                                                                                                              2. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                Alas, the gigantic patty melt at Slater's is gone from their menu.

                                                                                                                                Jerry-rigged one up this afternoon from the "make it yourself" form, with help from the server (who wasn't quite sure), and it just wasn't quite right.

                                                                                                                                The bread (1/2 inch thick sourdough this time, at the server's recommendation ) completely disintegrated while eating, and the burger was lacking that "horseradish aioli" spread that gave my (overcooked) melt some kick last summer.

                                                                                                                                The chef got the "rare" part of my order right, but the flip side of that was that I could taste the meat -- the most important part of a burger, after all -- which was bland today.

                                                                                                                                This isn't the first I've been back to Slater's since last summer, but the first I've wanted a patty melt when it wasn't on the menu. Their signature 50% beef 50% bacon burger is pretty good, but I have to be WAY under my legal weight limit before I'll order one of those.

                                                                                                                                1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                  Next time you in the mood for a patty melt, give The Studio a try.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                    I will! And that may be pretty soon, because the "patty melt" at Slater's didn't quench my craving.

                                                                                                                                    I've been to the Studio Diner before (just once, numerous years ago). What I recall is that the place was packed and we were on a long waiting list for lunch while attending a meeting at NG down the road that we had to get back to. So we were anxious campers. I do recall that the food was flavorful and plentiful, but I don't recall what I had. Just that it wasn't a patty melt.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                      Sometimes long lines indicate goodness is going to happen!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                          OK, sans the chains and tourist traps!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                            Just last night I saw a long-ass line outside of downtown Hodad's. Shook my head at those poor misguided burger junkies.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                      Went to Studio Diner for their patty melt today, and I have to say I was pretty disappointed. :(

                                                                                                                                      The rye bread was fine, and although it wasn’t anything special, it was tasty enough and crispy. Maybe too crispy. It didn’t look or taste to have been grilled or pressed -- more like just toasted lightly and then painted with a little melted butter. It held up start to finish, though, a big plus. Also, the hamburger patty was cooked to a perfect “rare” for my taste (seared on the outside and basically warm-raw in the middle).

                                                                                                                                      So why was I disappointed? Well, the meat itself was just average; the skimpy portion of grilled onions was completely flavorless; there was very, very little butter on the bread; and, worst of all, there was no cheese at all. If there was a speck of cheese somewhere on this patty melt, I couldn’t find it. The sandwich, being as it was sorely lacking in flavor, was helped a bit with some salt. Well, actually, a lot of salt.

                                                                                                                                      For the included side, I ordered mac & cheese, which was tasty enough. A nice sized serving, too. However, the “mac” was actually penne rigate, a pasta that I like a lot, just not when I’m expecting macaroni. The cheese was ok and there was a lot of it, but nothing special. Here I added some pepper to pick up the flavor.

                                                                                                                                      Sorry that I can’t say that my experience with the patty melt at Studio Diner matched yours. Oh well, it was worth a shot and I satisfied a curiosity.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                        Well, you do need to consider that the biggest proponent of their patty melt is a vegetarian...

                                                                                                                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                          DC, ummm...no cheese? Then how can they call it a "melt"? Truth in menu writing. To be a melt it's gotta have cheese!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                            Yeah, really...

                                                                                                                                            Well, that's what came to the table. A cheeseless "patty melt".

                                                                                                                                            1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                              Gotta have cheese to qualify as a 'Patty Melt'.

                                                                                                                                              Sorry to hear it wasn't that great because it usually kicks ass.

                                                                                                                                  2. Eureka Burger (UTC) - After a movie last night we decided to try this spot. I am in a low carb mode for a couple months and was pleased to see they offer several versions of all their burgers including "Naked" which has the bunless burger placed on a bed or arugula. I ordered the Napa Burger naked. It came with oven roasted tomato, havarti, and pancetta. The pesto aioli was on the side. The Mrs had the Catalina Bison Burger.

                                                                                                                                    The bison burger's bun was a nice sesame seeded bun - good burger to bun ration. Both burgers were cooked as ordered (med rare). The toppings were all decent.

                                                                                                                                    So with nothing wrong with either meal I ask myself why I was generally unimpressed. Can't say, but we concluded that if we were at UTC and felt like a burger and a beer, this would be a fine stop. We would not, however, go out of our way to return.

                                                                                                                                    1. Shared a burger in the bar at Amaya La Jolla. Meh. Oh, but the fries! Standard, hand-cut russet with some sort of spiced salt sprinkled on after they come out of the hot oil. They came to the table hot and crispy with a perfectly salted flavor and left the palette with a zesty, slightly hot finish. Yum.

                                                                                                                                      1. For me burgers mean Fuddruckers. Granted it is a chain but I like the meat and bun only off the grill and then I can select what I want to put on it.

                                                                                                                                        I see many places have specialty burgers with something I can't eat on it. I cannot eat any emulsified oil be it mayo, aioli salad dressings, or fake cheese. This hampers many a dining choices.

                                                                                                                                        Anyhow my once a month indulgence is the Elk burger, medium with grilled onions and mushrooms. Take it to the station and add one leaf of lettuce, tomato, get brown and yellow mustard along with A-1 steak sauce and Tabasco

                                                                                                                                        Little salt and lots of pepper and light smear of steak sauce on both sides of the patty, brown mustard on one bun, yellow on the other. Drips of Tabasco and add the lettuce and tomato however they best fit.

                                                                                                                                        Couple this with their fries, drink and a chocolate shake and I am damn happy with it. I wish the buns had more character like a whole wheat or something as is they are nothing special.

                                                                                                                                        This was from the Mira Mesa one and the burger was a bit medium well, boo, but they were pretty heavy handed with the mushrooms and onions, hooray!

                                                                                                                                        Here is the whole sloppy mess.


                                                                                                                                        1. Had the “Bruschetta” burger at Offshore on Morena today. I ordered it cooked rare, and it came to the table...rare! The weight of the patty wasn’t specified but I’m guessing it was about 1/2 lb, nice and thick. The meat was of respectable quality, juicy and tasty but not exceptional. Of the several toppings the one that stood out, both visually and taste-wise, wasn’t the bruschetta, but rather a mild but tangy crumbled goat cheese. The amount of cheese was generous, but it pretty much overwhelmed all of the other toppings, which included the bruschetta (from a can, I think), aioli (not detectable), and parmesan that was supposedly in the crusted-top but otherwise ordinary (although sturdy) bun. The arugula was ok, but it got a little cooked and mushy below the patty. The fries that came with this $11 plate ($9 would have been more like it) were completely one-dimensional frites ordinaires that I think came right out of a refrigerator bag. They were lightly coated with some flavorless granular stuff that I don’t think was salt. Whatever. They were useful for mopping up the drippings. I didn’t see any other burger offerings on the menu that would interest me, but might go back for this one -- someday.

                                                                                                                                          1. We had lunch at Johnny B's in La Mesa yesterday. I had the Patty Melt and my husband had the Bleu cheese burger. We split a half and half order of fries/rings.

                                                                                                                                            All in all, it was a decent lunch, though not over the moon in terms of high speed quality. We were not asked how we wanted our meat cooked, so one can only assume they use run-of-the-mill meat patties. The bread was nothing special. It wasn't horrible, but definitely not fresh-baked or from a local bakery. The fries and rings were standard issue, central casting, from the frozen bag.

                                                                                                                                            Lest I sound too negative, I loved my Patty Melt. Maybe it was the copious grilled onions, so delicious even if they were begat from Sysco. Maybe it was the buttery rye grilled to slightly crisp deliciousness, I mean grilled buttered bread is grilled buttered bread, "artisan" or not. Maybe it was the swiss cheese. The wonderfully functional air conditioning on a hot day? Who knows?

                                                                                                                                            Husband was very quiet as he consumed the Bleu cheese burger at a rather alarming pace and told me he loved it.

                                                                                                                                            Though Johnny B's is not High Gourmet, we will probably go back. The service was friendly and capable without being too "Hey guys!" casual. There was no upselling. The prices were within reason. The parking was not a nightmare.

                                                                                                                                            Overall, a good choice for a quick, no frills, casual lunch.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                                                              Grilled onions were probably cooked in house and not begat (love that phrasing) by Sysco. Your fries and onions rings yes, your grilled onions, most likely not.

                                                                                                                                            2. Went to the High Dive on Morena Blvd for the first and last time today. Ordered the “Spicy Reed” burger, a $10.50 item that comes with fries. From the menu description, it sounded like the burger might have “San Diego” written all over it. No such luck. The beef patty may well have started out as a half pound of meat as advertised, but if so it must have been a pretty fatty patty because what came to the table appeared to be about 1/3 lb at most. I asked that it be cooked rare, and there were in fact a few rare spots, but the cooking was uneven; most of the meat was medium-rare to medium. On the menu it was described as being “stuffed” with cream cheese and jalapenos, which is the part I’d hoped might lend a “San Diego” character -- whatever that is -- to it. Well, I counted exactly three mild-flavored canned jalapeno slices, and there was an amazingly skimpy amount of cream cheese as well. I could barely find or taste either. The Swiss on top was ok, as were the small-sized canned (or else, overcooked) mushrooms. The grilled onions were good. The high point was the crisp and flavorful bacon. The low point was the grocery store plain-Jane sesame seed bun, which started to fall apart after the second bite and totally disintegrated about 2/3 through. The burger also came with a lettuce slice, a tomato slice, and three sweet pickle slices. I ate those separately, like a small salad, which was fine. The fries were better than at the other places I’ve been to this past month, but they were a little to crispy-crunchy for my taste. That’s a nitpick that’s preference-related, so no biggie. People who like them cooked that way would probably say they were very good. All in all, though, a rip-off for a McDonald’s-level burger and absolutely abysmal “service” in a noisy -- even when almost empty -- dive bar.

                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                "The beef patty may well have started out as a half pound of meat as advertised, but if so it must have been a pretty fatty patty because what came to the table appeared to be about 1/3 lb at most."

                                                                                                                                                A mistake that many people make when doing burgers, especially at home, is in using ground beef that is too lean. We're currently using a 73/27 ratio...73% beef to 27% fat and we're getting a remarkably good burger. Unfortunately, at 27% fat, there is a good bit of weight loss. Having tested beef burgers at work last week and this week, I can say I was surprised at the amount of fat that cooked out.

                                                                                                                                                We started with a 6 oz ball of ground beef, threw it on the flat top, seasoned it up and then smashed it with a hot steak weight. By the time we were done we had a 4.25 oz cooked burger, cooked through, no trace of pink but still moist and juicy

                                                                                                                                                6 oz starting weight
                                                                                                                                                4.25 finished weight
                                                                                                                                                1,75 oz lost during cooking
                                                                                                                                                30% loss of starting weight

                                                                                                                                                Let's compare that to the estimates for the burger you had for lunch

                                                                                                                                                1/2# of beef burger = 8 oz raw.
                                                                                                                                                1/3# of beef burger = 5 1/2 oz finished weight
                                                                                                                                                Loss = 2 1/2 oz or about 31% of the starting weight

                                                                                                                                                So, yeah, they're using a burger with a reasonable amount of fat in it.

                                                                                                                                                And since about 30% of the burger either went down the charbroiler or into the grease trough of the flattop, the cost of the raw product went up too. For the purposes of this example, let's say that the cost of the ground beef in your burger was $1.00 an ounce, which would mean that the restaurant had $8.00 in raw product when your burger hit the grill. By the time it was done there was only about $5.50 worth of product left. $2.50 went down up in grease. The cost to the restaurant was $8 to put that burger on the bun, not the $5.50 value that remains after cooking. So what do they do? Adjust. The menu price is going reflect an adjustment to account for the loss during cooking. (Ground beef isn't going to be $1.00/oz, but it's easier to do the explanation in round figures rather than decimals).

                                                                                                                                                So now you've got the adjusted price of the burger + bun + add-ins + cheese +bacon + lettuce & tomato (both of which have loss factors) + condiments + fries, and that's just for the food, don't forget to figure salary for the line cook that made the burger + rent + cost of reusables (i.e. ware washing) + other overhead. Your $10.95 covers a lot more than just the cost of the meat. But you raise a very valid issue for anyone selling food for a living...the price/value ratio. This is basically where the price of a menu item is perceived by the diner to be 1) a steal, 2) fairly priced for what you got or 3) overpriced for what you got.

                                                                                                                                                The reality for many restaurants is that the various commodity meat indexes and the dairy market have been going up continuously over the last year, which means the cost of the raw ingredients has been going up for operators who are in business to turn a profit and make a living.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                    It's business, strictly business...

                                                                                                                                                    The chef may use food as a form of creative self expression, but the restaurant is always a business,not an art installation...

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                    Thanks, DD. Very very interesting information and comments. I think I recall Slater's menu saying that their advertised burger weights were after cooking, and now I'm thinking maybe some others do the same, so perhaps that's one of the differences in patty size at the table. Weight before vs. after cooking. Another thing affecting patty size at the table would be the degree of "done-ness", I suppose. Funny, though, that a well-marbled steak doesn't seem to lose volume when grilled. Maybe burgers lose more fat because they're more porous.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                      Weigh a steak before and after, there is still loss.

                                                                                                                                                      It's all about surface area. There is substantially more surface area in an 8 oz hamburger patty than there is in an 8 oz filet.

                                                                                                                                                      One of my pet peeves is the perception that many diners have is that food is "cheap" or should some how be inexpensive, yet they have no idea what it really costs to produce food (any kind of food) and get it to market and ultimately the table. We've all grown up in an era where food has been relatively abundant and economical, so we tend to think it should be abundant and economical when we go out to eat. That's not always a valid mindset.

                                                                                                                                                      Yeah, $10.95 for a bar burger does seem excessive but probably $4 or less is actually the food. Best bar burger I've every had was the cheeseburger at the 901 Club about 2 blocks north of the USC campus on Figueroa. $1.00 cheeseburgers at happy hour and $.50 draws. Delish. That was also a very, very long time ago ;-)

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                        "It's all about surface area. There is substantially more surface area in an 8 oz hamburger patty than there is in an 8 oz filet."

                                                                                                                                                        Makes sense.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                        In Kenji Alt-Lopez (of Serious Eats)'s testing, depending on the length of time you rest your steak, your steak will lose 15-22% of its weight. And that was a for a pretty standard piece of steak; I imagine a well marbled Kobe steak would lose even more.

                                                                                                                                                      3. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                        But a restaurant does not price a single item (e.g., the burger, or even the burger and fried combo) in isolation. Rather a restaurant should and will generally price one item in relation to the rest of the menu.

                                                                                                                                                        In that respect, a steakhouse for example will charge a 500% premium on a head of broccoli because it has to make up for the loss-leader that are the steaks. Conversely, an Americsn diner can sell you some steamed broccoli for just 100% cost because the variance of profit margins amongst its menu offerings is not as spread out.

                                                                                                                                                    2. Of the four places I went to for “dish of the month” this month (Luce, Slater's, Offshore, High Dive), I thought Luce’s Luce Burger was the best by a long shot, and a good value (especially during happy hours) to boot. No enthusiasm (from me) for the fries at any of these places. Anyway, I think I'm burgered-out for a while...

                                                                                                                                                      1. Stopped at Nicks on the Beach, good 8 oz'er good flavor, ordered it med-rare and it came out as ordered. Average bun, held together well, the fires were those coated type, I was a bit leary but, they were done to perfect crispness and well addicting! Burger came with L, T, O and a side of dill chips and a smear of mayo. That and a cold draft, DONE! I'm pretty burgered out at this point!

                                                                                                                                                        1. Sea Rocket Bistro, a place I do not usually advocate for, makes a very tasty burger.

                                                                                                                                                          1. If you watched that Food Network train wreck called Food Network Star, you may recall that one of the contestants was from San Diego and owns The Trails restaurant in San Carlos. One of the early episodes was the burger challenge. Cheftestants were given a range of meats, breads and vegetables with which to create the perfect burger. If memory serves, Stacey won that challenge with a beef and chorizo burger. I do remember for sure that I turned to the person with whom I was watching the show and said she should put that burger on her menu.

                                                                                                                                                            The Trails is in one of truly the most underserved communities. It's definitely far better for breakfast than for dinner; the dinner menu begin beyond boring. But being only a few blocks from the house, it's one of the very few neighborhood options when I don't want to cook. Tonight was one of those nights. Much to my delight and curiosity, the beef/chorizo burger was on the menu, and yep, you guessed it, I ordered it.

                                                                                                                                                            The burger is 1/2 Angus beef and 1/2 chorizo, probably around 8 oz since most of her other burgers are that weight. I did not request my hamburger be pink on the interior, but it came that way without asking, which made me very happy :-). The meat itself was nicely flavored with the chorizo adding some interesting flavor components. Chorizo in the U.S. tends to be pretty awful stuff and I was a little worried that it would really overpower the beef; it didin't. I would have liked more sear on the patty, but I suspect I'm in the minority on that.

                                                                                                                                                            The burger came with cheese (American? Pepperjack? not sure what it was), pico de gallo, jalapeño aioli, and lettuce. The cheese was non-descript, it didn't add much to the burger, but it also didn't detract from it. If I hadn't seen the melted cheese on the burger, I would not have known it was there!. Liked the pico, which added little hits of tomato and onion while eating, thought it could have used more. Jalapeñp aioli also was not over powering. I thought it could have been a little stronger, but I suspect it's probably just about right for the neighborhood and clientele.

                                                                                                                                                            But alas, this burger had 2 fatal flaws, 1 of them a big one. This is a juicy burger, which is a plus, EXCEPT when it saturates the lower half of the bun as it did tonight. This problem could have been averted by simply putting the massive leaf of green leaf lettuce on the lower bun instead of directly on top of the burger where the residual heat from the meat wilted the lettuce raft. But this was a small flaw compared to the major flaw...wrong bun. The menu said "artisinal bun". I'm here to tell you there was nothing remotely artisinal about it and it was FAR too BIG which totally threw off the meat to bread ratio. I pulled off a lot of the excess bun, what was left on my plate was probably enough bread to equal nearly half of one bun. And then the bun fell apart while I was eating it. The choice of bun was an egregious error.

                                                                                                                                                            The Baja Betty Burger as it's called, is $9.99 and comes with a plate load of cheap fries (I strongly dislike shoestring fries, and I dislike them even more when it's the "ends and pieces" pack). In spite of my complaints, I actually liked the burger. It has great potential, but is tragically flawed. The flavor of the burger and the accompaniments are actually quite good, but the bun is wrong, the bun to burger ratio is way off and a soggy bottom bun do no favors for this burger.

                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                              Wow! Thanks, DD. This does sound like it has a lot of potential. Maybe even the spark of a "San Diego Style" burger? Obviously needs tweeking, but a great concept.

                                                                                                                                                              Was the chorizo Mexican or Spanish?

                                                                                                                                                              Let's see: A different bun, more pico, stronger aioli, skip the cheese...

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                  If I were going to make a "Bettyburger" at home, the chorizo wouldn't be ground with the meat. It would be thin slices mixed by hand into the ground beef (partly because I don't have a meat grinder, and partly because I think the texture contrast and concentrated chorizo flavor would taste better).

                                                                                                                                                                  I think Spanish chorizo is more eloquent; Mexican is bolder. Not sure which would be better in a "Bettyburger" -- probably Mexican.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                Was that the place that received a makeover on Restaurant Impossible?

                                                                                                                                                              2. Rakiraki's Ramen Burger

                                                                                                                                                                Has anyone tried it?

                                                                                                                                                                There's a review with pics on Darlene's excellent blog: http://myburningkitchen.com/

                                                                                                                                                                1. I mentioned this in another (hard to find) thread, but since this discussion has been revived, I thought it fit here also.

                                                                                                                                                                  Rating 40 best burgers in America: