Hood River, OR – Charburger Country

A sunny day, driving East through Oregon’s gorge, majestic waterfalls on my left, the Columbia River on my right…..and billboards everywhere touting the wisdom and benefit of taking a lunch at Charburger Country in Hood River. Who am I to argue?

I pull off the ramp and into the parking lot, where the sign says “great food, better stop”. It must be “better” as the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet next door is suffering from a parking lot completely empty.

Charburger Country is a fairly large place, with ample seating for tour buses, it would seem. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while specializing in charburgers, it has a fairly large menu, including breakfast, and a tastefully appointed salad bar as well.

Today’s special is Chicken Fried Steak, so I am faced with the dilemma of choice. DAMMIT!

I peruse the menu of burgers, and I spot it – man, I love with some of my favorite foods are combined (except that dreaded coney island pizza in Wichita), so before me, the choice is easy: The DipBurger, a charred burger on a french roll with au jus. Fries come with it, and for some reason which I cannot fathom, I also opt for a bowl of chili.

I go with onions and cheese on the chili, of course, and the stewardess gives me the cup on a tray, and two packs of genuine Saltines, a bottle of water, and I go sit in the back room, which has large windows and is sunny. Should I have chosen to, I could have passed my time playing Keno, but the sun was glaring on the TV screen and I couldn’t have seen if I had won, anyway.

On the way to the table, I pass the burger condiment bar, chock-a-block full of tasty toppings, every kind of squirty sauce, onions, several peppers, kraut, pickles, relish, veggies, nicely filled trays, and a clean presentation. “Well, I’ll have to go back when the burger comes,” I think.

I dive into the chili and it’s very nice. It may have been doctored up out of a can, they may have made it, I don’t know, it has a nice cumin flavor, and irregular sized chunks of beef, which makes me think maybe it was made in-house. It was ladled up from a crock pot behind the register, and my only complaint (and this is an odd one from me), is it could have been a little hotter (temp). But no skimping on quality here, with real Saltines on the side, and not some poor institutional food service substitute!

My burger arrives, and I examine is from all perspectives, taste the au jus. The very obviously hand-formed patty has a nice char, is lean, and has a lather of American on it, perched on a French roll. The rest of the design is left up to me, should I choose to head back to the condiment bar.

The au jus is the standard powder or concentrated kind, which is actually fine with me, it’s what I prefer.

I dip the burger, and get a nice bite of a juice soaked bun, crispy beefy burger patty, and creamy American. Nice.   One minor carp, fries were a little undercooked.  No big deal.

It was a good choice to stop here, I’ve driven by it many times, never at the right time of day. But having been there, now I know anytime is the right time of day at Charburger Country. No website, and they did not have takeaway menus. There were business cards on the counter tho, and they list an email address of salmonfly21@yahoo.com, if you have any questions.

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