Monday, November 26, 2012

Minetta Tavern

This is my last in my New York series. It was a good run and there were many more I did not get to try. I guess I will have to make another trip. Oh well.

Minetta Tavern was one of the most recommended places. Even after my trip it seemed people were still telling me about it. I went here before going to the Comedy Cellar for a night of comedy. Minetta Tavern is not what you typically think of as a tavern. First off, you should make reservations ahead of time unless you want to wait a long time for a table. When we got there, the bar was packed and we could barely step into the restaurant. Secondly, it felt more like a French café than a tavern. The service felt like a French café as well. I think we got our food before we got our drinks.
I ordered the Minetta burger. Most people afterwards said I should have gotten the Black Label burger, but I was going for the namesake burger. The meat was good but not amazing. It was cooked very well as you can see from the picture. The bun was soft but held up and didn’t get too soggy with the juicy meat. It came with caramelized onions and sharp cheddar cheese. The cheese was very strong but it was a good cheddar so I quite enjoyed that. The onions were flavorful but not overpowering. The biggest issue with the burgers here are the price. Seemed to be a little overpriced at $17 for the Minetta and $26 for the Black Label. But this seemed to be par for the course in NY.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shake Shack

Shake Shack was one of the places I knew I needed to check out when in New York. I had heard from several people that it is the place to go. There are several locations and there seem to be more every time I visit the website. It started as a hotdog cart in the Madison Square Park in New York. They are known for their burgers, fries and what was most recommended, the custard. The custard is like a cross between ice cream and mouse like textures. There are some standard flavors, but you should check the website for the custard calendar since they have some special flavors. I tried the marshmallow milk chocolate flavor, which hit the spot in the August heat of New York.
The burger is more of a fast food style burger. For my west coast peeps, it is closer to In & Out then Fatburger. I ordered the Shack Burger. The meat was good and flavorful for the level of burger you are getting. The bun was a little soggy, but I am not sure if it was from the humidity or just the way it comes. It came topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and shack sauce. The shack sauce was a little underwhelming and the rest of the toppings were good. Overall, it is a good cheap burger and the fries, shakes and custards are definitely worth the trip.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Post number 2 from New York is for a place called Smithfield. Now this was not on the list of recommendations I received, but I was just looking for a place close to my hotel in Chelsea to watch a game and grab a bite to eat. After looking at some reviews, I decided to checkout Smithfield. After asking around later, not many people I know knew this place even existed. I think it is more of a soccer bar, but it did just fine to watch some American football. The bar was pretty full and happening when I got there. It seemed to full of regulars and everyone seemed to kind of know everyone else around the bar. In what seems to be a theme from my trip, the fries here were also very good.
Now for the surprising part of the post. I think this might have been my favorite burger on my trip. They grind the meat in house. The blend is brisket, short rib and sirloin and it was delicious. I ordered the Black & Blue burger. As I said, the meat was very flavorful and really showed through the rest of the ingredients. The bun was a brioche style bun, but was not overly greasy. The bottom bun did get really soggy from the juices. The burger came topped with Maytag blue cheese, pickled red onions, baby greens and mini pickled cucumbers. All in all, this was a surprisingly good burger.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Spotted Pig

After going to San Diego, my next trip was east to New York. Being my first time in the Big Apple, I felt I needed to try a few of the burgers there. I got several recommendations, and did not get to them all, but I think I got a good representation of the burgers in the city.

The Spotted Pig is in the West Village. It is a pretty small place with a mix of interesting small plates to share and some entrée's you might not want to give up. The room is pretty dark and you might wait a while for a table, but the bar is cozy and the bartender will be happy to make you an interesting cocktail while you wait. I know this is a burger blog, but the shoestring fries that come with the burger were exceptional. I normally prefer steak fries because I like the potato flavor along with the fried flavor. They had a nice amount of saltiness and herbs that did not overwhelm the potato.
Speaking of the burger, this is as simple as burgers get. We are talking patty, bun and cheese. The meat had good beef flavor. It was not the best meat that I have had in a burger, but it was definitely good. The bun appeared to be either homemade or fresh from one of the bakeries in area. It was soft and chewy and absorbed the juices of the meat but did not get very soggy. They used Roquefort cheese, which is known as one of the more pungent cheeses. The cheese really wasn’t as stinky as I would have imagined, and added a good balance to burger. Overall, this was a good burger, but felt it was missing something without some onion or greens to add texture or maybe increase the meat flavor.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Crazee Burger

This is the final post on my San Diego burger tour. And why not save the strangest burgers for last? For the last one I went to Crazee Burger. Crazee Burger is known for their off the wall burger creations. One had all sorts of pig in it (bacon, ham sausage etc.). Others include venison, gator and whatever they can get their hands on. The restaurant is in the Northpark part of town, which has all sorts of restaurants and shops. It is a great place to hangout out and there is also plenty of nightlife too. There is also a second location in Old Town San Diego. The interior of the restaurant is pretty basic. It almost feels like a 70’s joint with some wood paneling. They have a bunch of good beers on tap and plenty of sides to go with the burgers.
I ordered the Dansk burger, which is their standard burger with blue cheese. They use a brioche style bun, which had nice chew and held together well. The meat is angus beef and is cooked either pink or done. I got mine pink which amounts to medium cooked meat. It was nice and pink inside and very juicy. The meat was good but not amazing flavor-wise. The burger was topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles. All of the veggies were very fresh and had nice crunch for add flavor and texture. The best part of the burger was the blue cheese. Usually blue cheese has a very strong flavor and most places put too much on the burger and it can overpower the rest of the flavors. This was not the case here. The blue cheese they used was on the mild side and was very creamy. It was a great compliment to the rest of the burger. Now that I have tried a more standard burger, the next I am in the area, I think I may need to go back to try one of the other burgers. I highly recommend you do the same.

Monday, September 17, 2012


In my last post I wrote about one of the San Diego burger staples. Now I am going to write about the other. Hodad’s seems to be quickly becoming the official burger of San Diego. The original location is in Ocean Beach. They have also added a location in downtown and now even have a location in Petco Park, home of the hometown Padres. Since we wanted to check out a Padres game during my visit, we decided to go to the Hodad’s in Petco park. Since it was inside the ballpark , there was probably a little bit of a different atmosphere inside, but it had the old diner feel and was pretty busy considering it was a sit down place rather than getting your burger and heading to your seats.

The burgers are also pretty standard burgers style-wise. They come on a sesame seed bun. The patties are 1/4 pound beef patties with a hamburger stand taste. The thing that sets this burger apart is the bacon. Now if you read my blog, I am critical of places that use bacon or other toppings that overpower the meat. At Hodad’s, they have special process for cooking the bacon and for a sort of bacon patty to go on the burger. Whatever they do, it is the right way to put bacon on the burger. The patty still shines through and you get the good salty, smoky bacon flavor. The burger comes with mayo, mustard, onion, ketchup, pickle, tomato, and lettuce. All of the toppings were very fresh and added some nice texture and flavor to the burger. Overall, this is a very good burger. It may not be the greatest burger you have ever had or make you change the way you think about burgers, but it is very good and if you are in San Diego, I highly recommend it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rocky’s Crown Pub

In writing this blog, I get many people giving me suggestions on places to try. Pretty much every time I ask where to go in San Diego, Rocky’s was the choice. It is located in the Mission Beach area close to Sea World. It is a tiny place with bar seating and just a few tables. You have to be pretty aggressive to get a table as they are first come first served. I highly recommend getting friendly and trying to share a table with some people not in your party. They have some good beers on tap, TVs around to watch a game, but most people are there for the burger.
The burger is pretty standard, but I can see why people like it. There is only one burger here. You can get it either with cheese or without. The patties seem like they are hand formed as they were not the standard circular shape you usually see. The meat was good, but not a ton of flavor. They let the meat speak for itself. The burger comes with iceberg lettuce, fresh tomato, red onions and lots of pickles. This burger is really good and juicy. It kind of reminded me of a burger you would make at home and enjoy in your backyard with your friends.