Steppin’ Out – Burgers, Burgers, Burgers

burgersOne of the questions I often get is, “Doug, where can I find a good burger around here?” My answer is usually, “There are a number of them, what are you looking for?” You can get just about any kind of burger from one of our fast food, cooked to order or sit down restaurants. So, as requested by several people, here are a few I especially like.

First I should tell you that I love everything on my burgers: cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and whatever sauce they put on it. I also like black pepper and mustard on fries, which must be hot when I get them or they go back.

Going back a few years, I remember when for a dollar you could get several burgers, a shake and some fries from McDonald’s (and those were the good fries, cooked in animal fat). Now and then I go back and get a burger for old time’s sake. They have a very different taste that brings back a few memories. The same goes for the Big Mac when it is properly put together (I think it has shrunk over the years).

A couple of weeks ago I was going to the grocery store and realized I hadn’t eaten in a while, so I dropped in to McDonald’s had a Jalapeno Double, something new on the menu. It has both slices of jalapeno and crunchy jalapeno chips on it. Interesting.

Having been born in southern California, for another nostalgia burger I go to In-n-Out Burger. Their burger also has a unique taste that I can remember and their fries, made with Kennebec potatoes, are great, but soften rapidly (I liked them better when they tossed them in a towel to get off some of the fat). The Diamond Springs Hotel, Sportsman’s Hall and Danette’s Brick Oven Pub also use that potato for their fries.

I believe the best deal on a fast food burger is at Carl’s Jr. It is their Famous Star, which is often on sale. It has a nice sized meat patty, lots of vegetables and a good tasting sauce. Carl’s Jr. recently had a Natural Burger that I also though was very good and several of their turkey burger and chicken sandwiches are tasty. A lot of guys like the half pound “Thickburger,” which is featured in their “nearly naked, beautiful girl who is a sloppy eater” ads.

The problem with the big burgers is that they contain more fat and sodium than a normal person should consume in a whole day.

In Pollock Pines, the Burger Barn makes really good burgers, ranging from their regular quarter pound one to stuffed half pounder and a quadruple patty full pounder. They also serve shakes in a huge number of flavors along with beer for you “burger and a beer” folks.

The pastrami burger at Shoestring (both on Broadway in Placerville and Black Oak Mine Road in Garden Valley) is my present favorite burger. Try it with Swiss cheese. Take a friend to lunch and split one, along with a half or whole order of chili-cheese fries. Yum!

Because now and then my friend Russ Salazar and I make a run to Sacramento, while there we try a burger or hot dog.

Among the places we have visited are Scott’s Burger Shack on Franklin Blvd., the famous Squeeze Inn on Power Inn Road., Willie’s Burgers on 16th St. and several fast food restaurants that haven’t reached our area yet.

Scott’s is known for their “Fat Boy” burgers, but when we were there we stuck to a regular burger and a pastrami sandwich, both of which we liked. Scott’s is a real shack with limited outside seating.

Squeeze Inn is famous for the quarter pound of shredded cheese the put on the burger before adding some ice for steam and then covering it. What you end up getting is a great burger with a three or four inch wide grilled cheese “skirt” all around it. Their original place seated about 9, but now they have several locations with lots more seating.

Willie’s is famous for their burgers, chili burgers and chili fries. Their regular burgers are called Hammers and you can have up to three or even more patties on it. Add chili (beanless) and cheese and they are called Slammers. They have a code: for instance TCC means three patties, triple chili and cheese. Willie’s is Russ’ favorite burger place and has been for some time. By the way, Russ taught me that the proper drink with a chili burger or chili dog is root beer.

Recently there has been an influx of new, upscale burger chains in northern California with names like Five Guys Burger and Fries, Smashburger and The Habit Burger Grill.
I have eaten at all of them and Russ and I visited the last two.

Five Guys is very good (and they give you peanuts in the shell to eat while waiting). Russ and I were disappointed with our last visit to Smashburger in Folsom (my daughter says they have great salads), but in my opinion, The Habit (there is one in Folsom) makes the best burger.

A couple of months ago the two of us visited the Habit and tried a burger and their outstanding fresh albacore sandwich. In my review I said that they cared and took the time to make the burger correctly, rather than to just squirt dressing on a bun and toss on the meat and some vegetables. After I reviewed it, I looked at several other reviews and found the same general comment. Quality always wins out over quantity.
So, those are some “off the top of my head” comments. Do you have a favorite burger or something else you think the world should know about? Let us know and I will try and tuck them into a future column.

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