McKinney, TX – Culvers Butterburger

I wrote about wishing I could hit a Culver’s a couple weeks ago.  Got my chance this week in McKinney, Texas, a suburb of Dallas within spitting distance of Oklahoma.

The sign outside of Culver’s says “Home of the Butterburger”, but the butter has nothing to do with the patty, but rather the fact they butter the buns, before toasting them.   I don’t know whether it actually makes a difference or not, but the holy two B’s (butter and bacon) make anything better for me.

Culver’s is also known for fresh custard, whatever that is, sounds too healthy for me, and, being a Wisconsin based chain, are in the unique position to offer a side of deep-fried cheese curds.

Hand-formed patty, cooked to order, bakery buns, hot fried cheese curds and a butter burger?   Heaven on a sliver of wax paper.

Coalinga, CA – Burger King

Ugh.  I am changing my core belief about “any burger in a storm”…..even though I have been consuming burgers for the entire 116 years of myvexistence,  I have never had a BK whopper.  Wait, maybe I did have one once when I lost a bet with a vegetarian friend.  On my recent “playing kerouac”tour of America, I was attempting to crisscross the country several times on varying limited daily food budgets.  This segment I had limited myself to $3 a day, which in turn, pretty much restricted me to the various dollar menus.

Today’s stop was a Burger King out on  the fringes of the San Joaquin Valley, and at damned near the epicenter of the San Andreas Fault. (everyone has a fault, mine happens to be in California).

I perused the offerings of the dollar menu at the BK, while carefully adjusting the paper crown on my head, to get the full effect of the regal treatment of being a burger “king.”

I chose the Whopper Jr and the 6 portion order of “Cheesy Tots”.  Both were a disappointment of course, I’m not sure how much the patty weighs on the Whopper, Jr., about the same at the McDouble, I would suppose, probably tipping the scales at perhaps 2 full ounces (pre cooked weight).

I often wish I had started weighing the McD quarter pounder patties when they first came out, as I am convinced they are getting smaller and smaller. If you have a chance to try the Whopper, Jr….. you should pass.  Even sitting on top of the San Andreas Fault, chomping into one of these won’t make the earth move.


Superior, Wi – Anchor Bar

One would hope for two things:   1)  the name of the town also describes the upcoming burger one is planning on consuming, and 2) in Wisconsin, one had better find some pretty damned fine cheese, even if their cows are pissed off, instead of contented like in California.

We went in search of the “Gallybuster”,  which, although they couldn’t spell it correctly, promised a solid pound of ground beef and three slices of (your choice) of real cheese.    Diners in close proximity to us heard us talking over the proposed entrée, and upon hearing from them that we should try the “five pounder” at a place down the street, we thought, maybe we’ll save some capacity, and go for that tomorrow, instead of this paltry 16 ouncer!

So we ordered from the menu, which had some “different” combinations,  like the Green Olive and Crème Cheese burger;  the Sour Cream and Mushroom,  the Cashew and Swiss.

I ordered a combo I have never seen anywhere, despite having traveled the globe and  having consumed hamburger sandwiches for the past 116 years.

“The Reuben Burger” –   a heaping mound of sauerkraut and gooey real swiss cheese atop a finely grilled burger on a fresh bakery roll, accompanied by perfectly fried hand-cut fries.   The burger was served naked, and I ordered a nice chilled bottle of IBC RB to wash it down.

It was great.  Better than great.  This joy is easily in my top five for the week.  Worthy of “Superior.”


Tomah, Wi – Kwik Trip Truckstop Mini Mart

If you’ve ever driven Chicago to Minneapolis, you know where the “I” divides, it’s Tomah, Wisconsin, where Interstates 90 and 94 split and go their merry ways west ward.

I only had a minute here, too damned bad, because Tomah is a cranberry mecca, and offers at least two shops full of cranberry Tschostkes.  OK, I am kidding, I didn’t want to hit those, but they are there.  I also did not have time to visit the most excellent Midwestern burger chain “Culvers”, which is home to the extremely tasty “Butterburger.” Hit one of those as soon as you can.

No, I was reduced to the heat and eat 99 cents cheeseburger @ the Kwik Trip truck stop.   But note that I opted for that before I would eat at the clown restaurant.

Palatine, IL – Palatine Inn

It’s not the Billy Goat (someone already posted about), but then nothing in Chicago is.   But Chicago is full of good burgers, and one of the few, if not only, places I have ever been that serves the “Queen Burger” virtually everywhere.   Too lazy to look up the origin, I am going to take a stab here at saying the Queen Burger is so named because it is covered with a mound of sliced (queen size) green olives,  one of my three favorite things in the world to eat.

This one, at the Palatine Inn (not worth seeking out, but worth stopping in  if you are nearby, Palatine is a NW suburb about 25 miles out of Chicago), was done perfectly as requested,  medium rare,  served dry, with tomato, lettuce and pickle on the side.   They will offer you a choice of self-applied condiments.

Bonus?   Pickle, sure.  And? (drumroll).   Free Matzo ball soup!

pataline inn


Atlanta, GA – The Vortex

The Vortex,  Atlanta, GA, has been on my “must………..stop………………eat”  list for a long time.  Underground whispers, street rumors,  gossip have long been around about the famous “Double Coronary Bypass Burger”,  a legend if there ever was one.   One-half pound of sirloin, topped with two fried eggs,  four slices of America Cheese,  five slices of bacon, and the bun?   Glad you asked.  A singular delicious grilled cheese sandwich taking the place of each bun half.  Yep, two grilled cheese sandwiches for buns.

Confronted with the option of devouring this monster, could I?  Would I?  Should I?    Well, turns out at the last moment, someone said “try and onion rings”, and I knew I couldn’t do the Double and the rings at the same sitting, and when would I be here again?

So it was the ordinary Coronary Bypass Burger, which forgoes the grilled cheese(s) for a regular bun, is missing one fried egg, 1 strip of bacon, and 1 slice of american processed cheese food.

It was incredible.   And nice pickle!


Vortex Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Atlanta, GA – Central City Tavern

Anytime a restaurant stewardess tells me “Sure, y’all can substitute tater tots for fries”,  I’m happier than a pig who’s been rejected for the BBQ pit.   Central City Tavern was no except;  while they offered a variety of semi-uniquely decorated burgers, I opted for the blue cheese, which had a nice mix of dressing and seriously chunky real blue cheese.   Most curiously, bacon was NOT an add-on, in fact, there was no bacon on the menu at all.   Non-distinctive bun, fine, just nothing special.

It was a great burger, not in my top 10, but certainly the best burger I had in Atlanta that day. Great pickle spear!



Slidell, LA – RaceTrac Gas Station

RaceTrac Petroleum is a chain of  over 500 gas stations across the southeastern US.  Like many retail chains, RaceTrac has discovered the beauty and profitability of “house brands,”  and has followed suit with their ready to heat and ready to eat sandwiches.   The RaceTrac double cheeseburger, 5.5 ounces, and 99 cents,  exceeds the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder is taste, appearance, and value.   All that stands between you and a late night gas station burger fix is 30 seconds in the microwave.   RaceTrac’s microwaves are even idiot-proof, with pre-programmed settings for the various sandwiches.

RaceTracs have a great condiment bar, so you can dress  your burger to your liking.

Only had my fone with me this nite, so photos are reflective of that!




race condiments

Portland, Or – Capitol Highway Deli Market

Off the Meaten Path

At first blush, your fear is probably that  this is going to be a non-meat story.  T’aint so.   It is, however, about an “alternative” burger, one that might be as close as your corner, like it is mine.

Pre-cooked somewhere west of  Wherethehellisthat? Ohio, flash-frozen (one hopes)  and shipped to a corner mini mart, office vending machine, or aircraft carrier near you,  the Big Az burger with processed American cheese slice, boasts a full 9.65 ounces of flavor on a sesame seed bun, all  for less than $3.

It comes sans condiments, allowing you to decorate at your whim.   My choice, as pictured, is pickle, onion, mustard.  And some potato by-product from Lay’s that I had around the house.   If you think the bun looks kinda squished, you’re right.   My fault.

This particularly delicious delight requires some home preparation, obviously.   I get the best results by doing the bun and patty separately, or at least for different lengths of time.  Your mileage may vary.

I know, I know, you’re asking “gwailo, how did you discover such a tasty morsel?”    Well, you see kids, my significant better 2/3rds doesn’t care for ground beef, in any form or fashion, so I am compelled to seek the manna of the gods outside of my domestic environs.  My connection for the Big Az is the corner liquor store, @ Pomona and Capitol Highway,  spitting distance from my house.   To reduce my carbon footprint, I limit my burgers to those within walking distance.

And avoid places that promise “locally harvested sustainable beef.”   I abstain from sustain.   I won’t be on the planet long enough to care.

I know you are dubious.   But these are honestly better than any fast food burgers, with the exception of Fatburger and In N Out, both of which have not graced Portland with their presence.  It has always struck me as odd that Fatburger is owned by a Portland company, but doesn’t have an outlet here.

Perhaps a tea party is in order?




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