Now that is a tasty burger!–Jules Winnfield
Another Friday, another trip to the random portions of my brain, and today the topic that comes up on the wheel-o-blog: Burgers.
Fitting raiding into a tight work or school schedule can be tough. Things, at times, need to be sacrificed. One of the first things that we sacrifice is sitting down and having a nicely cooked meal.
Well, maybe a lot of you wouldn’t do that anyways because you can’t cook or are afraid to cook, but nevertheless…many raiders will eat a meal or two (or three) over top of their keyboard while clearing trash to the first boss. If you’re headed home and you need something quick to eat, it needs to be fast and it needs to be easy to eat while DPSing, Tanking, or Healing.
My food of choice for raiding (and my favorite meal overall) is the cheeseburger. Properly wrapped and held, it can be eaten with one hand and is a complete meal in one package.
Nothing is more compact, more modular, and more filling than a well made, juicy, delicious cheese burger. The best thing about the burger is that it’s one of the few meals that has a low floor in terms of quality. Your Dad or Grandpa probably cooked you plenty of burgers that were indistinguishable from a hockey puck, but with a good bun and some ketchup and onions, you still had a tasty meal.
Cheeseburgers can be prepared quickly, and, based on the toppings, can skyrocket into the realm of the uber gourmet.
My burger rules:
- Medium to Medium Rare if you have the option
- The bun must be warm/toasted
- All food groups must be represented. Fruits/Vegetables count as one group.
- Minimum 1/3lb in weight. Anything else is just a glorified slider. Exception granted if you buy 2 and make them into one burger.
There are few places that can meat the above criteria regularly from trip to trip, but the following joints are my favorite places to get my favorite meal:
5. Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe
A fast food establishment local to the Pittsburgh region that started up in my home town. The burgers served at this (mainly) hot dog emporium are of the quarter pound size so therefore I invoke the exception in rule 4 (hey, when you’re making the rules, you can make how to break them too!).
The picture to the left is obviously not of the burger itself, but it’s a picture of my favorite cheeseburger side-dish: Hot Dog Shoppe Chili and Cheese fries. This is a photo of the large size, but the chili is the magic sauce that brings it all together and makes the HDS my go-to dinner stop.
Two cheeseburgers with bacon and chili, a large fry, and a vanilla shake. That’s all I need to make me happy.
4. Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Excellent place, enormous selection of toppings, and boardwalk fries that you can’t possibly resist. Five Guys takes the classic fast food quarter-pound cheeseburger to a new level. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s how the bun, cheese, meat, and toppings all fuse together into a being of utter deliciousness. Or maybe it’s that their “regular” cheeseburger would be considered a double in other restaurants.
I visited this place almost three times a week when I was at Pitt, and now that there is one just minutes from my office. It’s on my rotation for good!
3. The Backdoor Tavern
A local joint 5 minutes from my house that not only sports a beer list with over 100 selections (plus seasonals), it has a 3/4lb burger on the menu. I usually go for the classic bacon cheeseburger, but there’s also another variation: The Backdoor Burger. A 3/4lb cheeseburger with cheddar cheese, hot pepper cheese, ham, bacon, and onion. Finishing it is an adventure.
Frankly, finishing anything at the Backdoor is a quest in eating. If Subway sandwiches were served at the Backdoor, you would need to double all of the toppings and then rename the 12″ sub to a “Half Sub.” You get your monies worth and you get to do it for a really good price.
Also, can’t forget the Beer Lists. The Backdoor keeps a list on hand for each patron that wants one, if you drink every beer on the list, you get a sweet T-shirt. The list of beers on the list is small compared to the selection, so substitutions are allowed. You can complete multiple lists, but it’s only worthwhile if you’re actually trying to new beers (which is the whole point anyway!).
2. Howard’s Pub
The one place on this list that isn’t within driving distance. Howard’s Pub is located off the coast of North Carolina on Ocracoke Island (Outer Banks territory). Howard’s serves up 1/2lb burgers to order in their beach side bar and grill that sports a beer list with over 200 bottle and 24 draft beers.
There isn’t anything particularly special about them except for their preparation. No flashy names or toppings, just a great cheeseburger. Every patty comes seared perfectly for that nice crusty char taste while keeping in the juices. If we’re talking pure burger flavor, these guys are the kings.
I always get a burger with cheddar, bacon added, cooked medium rare. You won’t find a better a mix of location and delicious food. Unfortunately, it’s 13 hours from my house. Oh well.
1. Red Robin
As they say in the commerical: “Yummmmmm”
It seems like a cop out to go with a national chain of restaurants, but how can you argue with the final product?
You would think that because it’s a franchise and because you go anywhere in the country and get one, you would get a boring, re-used, and at times low quality cheeseburger.
To that I say “no, sir!”
There has never been a time where I have been unsatisfied by the meal crafted for me in the kitchen of my local Red Robin (across the street from the office, no less!). There has also never been a time when I’ve looked outside of the burger section.
Chicken burgers? Sandwiches? SALADS!?
These mere servants of King Burger are there to satisfy the lesser beings that accompany those of us that truly appreciate the above-gourmet category that the Red Robin cheeseburger finds itself in.
The combinations are as varied as they are numerous. There’s the blackened bayou burger sporting a creole mustard with slaw and “angry onions.” Throw on a roasted red pepper and hot pepper cheese to cover all categories and you have yourself a winner.
The bleu cheese and guacamole bacon are another two of my favorites (top right, and left middle, respecitvely), but you really can’t go wrong. Checking off each of the burgers on the list over the past year has been an adventure in Burgerland for this american cuisine conossieur.
Now that I’ve sufficiently worked up my appetite, it’s time to grab a beer, grab a burger, and watch some playoff hockey.
Have a good weekend, folks, and Go Pens!