On my never ending search for the perfect burger, every town and watering hole and restaurant I go to, there’s always an opportunity to partake in one of our greatest creations. From the Shake Shack in New York City to Portillo’s and Kuma’s Corner in Chicago to In-N-Out Burger (animal style of course) on the West Coast. And I do love me some Carl’s Jr., many of which are located off the 5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Smashburger and Five Guys. My favourite to this day is still Au Cheval on the corner of Randolph and Halsted in the heart of the West Loop in Chicago a block from my condo. It’s the perfect size, the perfect flavor, with two thick center slab crisps of bacon and a fried egg. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever had.
The biggest mistake most places make with their burger is thinking that bigger is better. In this case, bigger is most definitely not better.
Umami Burger is the only burger I’ve had in San Francisco that rivaled the burger at Au Cheval. Though a healthy portion of beef, I did not feel stuffed in the slightest. In the case of a good burger, size does not matter. (Have I mentioned that yet?) I ordered the Manly Style, cos well, that’s the only way to order a burger, with onions and bacon, cooked medium rare. My goodness, it was amazing, so juicy, so light (yes, I never thought a burger could be light), and so full of flavor.
I’ve only had Super Duper later in the evening. And let me tell you, it always hits the spot. So much so, that I think I’m going to try it a little earlier than usual the next time I am in the area.
Speaking of the area, I’m a big fan of the Tipsy Pig on any night not named Thursday, Friday or Saturday. When I arrived in San Francisco on a Sunday night a little over two years ago in June (staying at the Da Vinci Hotel that first week), within an hour of dropping my bags, my friend Fergus had picked me and my friend Kristi up for dinner at The Tipsy Pig. While we sat inside that night, many times since, I’ve sat in the beer garden in the back, which is a little oasis in the Marina. Their food is good for bar food. Nothing spectacular, but just solid, much like their burger. They try to win you over with its size, which as I mentioned above, is the least important thing a burger could possess. It’s not great; but it’s not bad either.
It’s Thursday night now. This post has been a couple weeks in the making. I’m with my family tonight, some of my closest friends. And we are at The Mission Bowling Club. Our buddy Raym’s cousin Ryne (yes, named after the great Ryne Sandburg of the Chicago Cubs – the greatest second baseman of our generation) is the head chef there. And I hear the burger is out of this world, or at the very least has been voted in the top five best burgers in the country.
Unfortunately, the Mission Bowling Club doesn’t allow anyone under 21 including the fifteen month adorable cutie with us unless it’s between family hours Saturday and Sunday 11 AM to 7 PM. Unfortunately family hours didn’t include Thursday at 6:30 PM. So instead, we took a respite from burger week to sit outside at Giordano Bros up the street. While the service was horrible (everyone else’s sandwiches were served before I even realized that the server had not even taken my order; I still don’t know how that happened), the Pittsburgh-style sandwiches (which meant the fries were served inside the sandwich) were out of this world. I had half of the pastrami and half of the hot capicola.
It’s Saturday. Will this be the day we try Mission Bowling Club?
We didn’t make it.
It’s been a week since we were to eat at The Mission Bowling Club, and we have yet to go. They’re not making it easy.
Over the weekend, I visited a couple of my best friends in San Jose to have lunch in San Pedro Square. I really liked the laid back atmosphere and the fact there was a plethora of food choices to choose from. Of course, I went for the burger. Konjoe Burger Bar was within my eyesight, up my alley, and an hour later, I had wolfed their burger with the fried egg in it. And let me tell you, it was worth each bite. But it’s no Au Cheval or Umami Burger.
Now, it’s been a couple weeks. (I find that I like writing in real-time, having started this post three weeks ago.) It’s Saturday again… and we did it!!! We made it to The Mission Bowling Club, and the burger did not disappoint! I went with two close friends and we were hungry. The service was very friendly; and the chef Ryne a great guy. And while I had never met him until that very moment, the fact we had his cousin who was one of my closest friends living in Chicago broke down all barriers to a conversation.
The burger itself was big and bold and juicy and amazingly wonderful. Served with thick slabs of bacon, an egg perfectly cooked. I savored each and every bite, afraid that it would soon be over. I’d still give a slight edge to the burger at Umami Burger simply cos I had never had a burger so light before (which I cannot believe I am saying at this very moment – sacrilege if I were in Chicago).
However, after weighing in all aspects of the burger, Au Cheval still reigns supreme.
Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.
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ALWAYS BE EPIC