Monday, July 12, 2010

My Big Burger Weekend

Is there a better deal anywhere than a $2.99 In-N-Out Double-Double? Friday afternoon, Elizabeth and I went down to the Alhambra In-N-Out, fought the huge crowds, placed our order, and just managed to grab the last table in the house. We didn't care; it's always worth it. When they got close to calling my number I went up to the counter and stood around for a minute. I'm not sure I've ever spent a minute observing firsthand what goes on inside an In-N-Out. It was intense. There were 16 people I could see, all of them busting their butts, making an endless stream of burgers and fries.

The burger, as always, was fantastic.

My Own Burger
For lunch Saturday, I cooked my own burger. I formed some ground beef into a patty and cooked it for three minutes on each side then took it off to rest. (During the second half of the cooking, I melted a few slices of garlic jack cheese on the patty.) A few weeks ago I wrote about watching Huell Howser making sauerkraut at the Krüegermann business. While I was at the butcher shop, buying the meat, I found a jar of Krüegermann "sweet & sour red peppers." That sounded like a good condiment for my burger, so I spread a few of them on some fresh lettuce. The last thing I added was a thin smear of mayo.

The burger was outstanding, everything I want in a backyard burger: a slightly charred crust on the outside of the patty, juicy and pink in the center, and cheese oozing in every bite.

Okay, so this one seems kind of out of place here, like looking at a photo of the '92 Dream Team and seeing Christian Laettner. But I got a coupon in the mail for a dollar off one of McDonald's "Angus Third Pounders" and I thought, Well, why not?

I will answer my own question: because it's terrible. In fact, I don't wanna talk about this one any more.

It's been almost 8 years since I'd ordered a Fatburger of my own. I have been to Fatburger dozens of times in that stretch, of course, it's just that I almost always order a turkey burger. I love turkey burgers and Fatburger has one of my favorites anywhere. (Last fall I ordered a spicy crispy chicken sandwich at the Fatburger in Hollywood before a show at the Greek, the only thing besides a burger I have ever had at Fatburger.)

This time I went by the Fatburger on Wilshire. While overall I think the quality of Fatburger has declined in the last decade, this burger was still fantastic: perfectly charred, generous toppings and a nice bun. With skinny fries. It was like being reunited with an old friend and wondering why you'd ever drifted apart. (But knowing that if you hang out for more than a day or two you will remember.)

Hutch's Barbeque
How many times has the name Hutch's come up on this blog over the last two years? More than any other restaurant? Perhaps. Just like I never get tired of watching Casablanca, hearing Vin Scully's voice or walking around my neighborhood at sunset, I never get tired of eating at Hutch's. There is no sit-down restaurant on the face of the planet at which I have eaten more frequently.

There is no gimmick to this burger: a patty, fresh lettuce, relish, mayo, and cheese. I always request a side of their barbecue sauce, which is one of my favorites, and dunk the burger in it. There is pretty much nothing better in the world.


SuperLarge said...

I know I've said this before, but I worry about your cholesterol sometimes.

Nosh Gnostic said...

This is funny - I had a No-Burger weekend; trying to repair my body after last weekend's 4th of July cavalcade of BBQ burgers.
The Hutch's burger looks well, so orderly - as though they manicured the lettuce to fit just right.
I have to thank you for your many mentions of Fatburger in the past. It inspired me to try one of the best burgers I've had lately. It (along with Five Guys) restored my faith in fast-food.
And, of course, your homemade burger looks just flat-out delicious.
They have pills for cholesterol (and red wine).

JustinM said...

I'm pretty sure Hutch's isn't as good as it used to be, but it's just one of those things that I grew up with. There is a lot more going on in my mind when I visit Hutch's than the taste of the burger.

I once broke my jaw in two places and it was wired shut for a couple months and the thing I craved the most was a Hutch's hamburger, more than anything else in the world.

My cholesterol actually isn't too bad. It's not ideal but it's in the acceptable range, albeit on the high end.

Liz said...

I really do enjoy Fatburger, In-N-Out and Hutch's but I think my favorite was the one you made.