Blueberry Hill – St. Louis, MO

Burgers, Midwest By February 10, 2016 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: 7oz ground chuck, soft spread cheddar , green leaf lettuce, thick cut tomato, onion and pickle
the bucks: $7.45
the coordinates: St. Louis, MO

Like great barbecue, great burgers stir our emotions. Unlike exquisite nigiri sushi or a three hour tasting menu that moves at the elegant pace of a ballet, many great burgers do not receive Michelin stars. Rather they are satisfied with lifelong customers, some who may even consider taking their progeny to these hallowed establishments as a rite of passage. Blueberry Hill in St. Louis is very much that type of burger establishment, though for me it might just fall short of the whole “rite of passage” part. Still, when it comes to Bang for your Burger Buck and being a local burger treasure, I feel compelled to include their 7oz of ground chuck into this collection. And frankly after almost 15 years of overcooked burgers in Los Angeles(Umami Burger really changed the game), I will always tip my cap to a Midwest joint that has been nailing medium rare the whole damn time.

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P. Terry’s Burger Stand – Austin, Texas

Austin, Burgers By December 1, 2015 1 Comment

The Vitals:
the burger: Double w/ Cheese: Two 100% all-natural black angus beef patties, two slices American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion(upon request)
the bucks: $3.95
the coordinates: Austin, TX

Burgers can be many many things. Like all food should be, burgers live in a dynamic state. Some appear in formal dining halls worthy of rap moguls or royalty, some are served on street carts. Some cross culinary genres like a Bulgogi topped burger or a burger conceived to taste like carnitas. Few burgers can be called “authentic”, a term not universally embraced as a good thing but a powerful one regardless. P. Terry’s, the celebrated burger chain in Austin whose reverence to quality ingredients frankly belies every negative connotation one could have to that dirty “C-word”, serves up a burger that can simply be described as authentic. And that summation conveys the very best that word has to offer. At $4 for a cheeseburger of this caliber – it’s a slam dunk when it comes to Bang for your Burger Buck – but more importantly it is a slam dunk because of the quality first and foremost. The price point just happens to be the cherry on the sundae. And a cheap cherry at that.

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Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen – New York, NY

Burgers, New York City By November 4, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: Schnipper Old Fashioned: a flat top classic 5 oz griddled patty topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle, house sauce, double cheese(American) and griddled onion
the bucks: $6.99
the coordinates: New York, NY

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I supposed that could best describe how Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen fits into the burger narrative of New York City. One bite, Hell, one glance at their burger will have you thinking Shake Shack faster than a line can form at the Madison Square Park location with David Chang thrown into the mix. The building blocks of burger cookery at Schnipper’s and Shake Shack are certainly similar enough to call the two restaurants rivals. Though I believe much thought went into the creation of the burger at Schnipper’s; namely the epic food road trip that brothers Andrew and Jonathan Schnipper embarked upon prior to conception and opening, it’s not hard for many to simply call Schnipper’s a Shake Shack clone. Unlike that lingering issue with the chicken and the egg, there is no debate on who came first. Shake Shack captured the hearts of burger lovers in New York City back in 2004 and no one has looked back since. But in a city as big as New York, there has always been room for a little competition. By the way, Shake Shack ain’t hurting for business, cue those infamous lines of people waiting up to an hour, locations opening up nationwide and the company going freaking public. And really what’s wrong with making a clone of something awesome? I suppose the aversion we have to clones comes down to all those sci fi movies coming out of Hollywood where clones, especially of ourselves, turn out to be really evil and cause wanton destruction and mayhem. And since real life seldom serves up a Will Smith or Bruce Willis to handle these evil clones, we remain generally weary of them. Well I say don’t think of Schnipper’s as a clone. Think of it a necessary intervention by the powers that be to make awesome burgers more accessible, like how the New Deal provided jobs for an out of work populace. Only this time instead of jobs it’s quality burgers for John Q Public who are on the clock with an hour to spare. Whatever you call it, you will be paying $7 for a near perfect cheeseburger. Cloning might be an evil thing in Hollywood, but when it comes to cloning an iconic cheeseburger style at Bang for your Burger Buck – clone on.

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Hat Creek Burger Company – Austin, TX

Austin, Burgers By October 8, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: The Big Hat – double cheeseburger featuring cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion and house pickles. Custom add ons included bacon and a mustard based house sauce.
the bucks: $7.20
the coordinates: Austin, TX

My first impression of Hat Creek Burger Company took about 30 seconds. It more or less amounted to a slight glance to my left, as I drove north on a dusty restaurant row called Burnet road, surveying my new home base of eating. Playgrounds at restaurants were still a new and under appreciated X-factor for me. The bright red colors and logo screamed corporate branding. Even the shape of the establishment made my Spidey sense tingle with the presence of a chain restaurant. Turns out, while I bare little other resemblance to Spider Man – I was right about my initial suspicion: the Hat Creek on Burnet used to be an Arby’s. Besides sharing a similar baseline price point, the similarities thankfully end there. It may sound strange for you to hear this but Hat Creek Burger Company makes good burgers, not necessarily great burgers. I believe the true burger lover comes to Hat Creek for reasons beyond the food – like the playscape, the decent craft beers, the option of wine(recommended only in case of emergency), the flat screen TVs, and the general ambiance of the outdoor seating area whose appeal just increased exponentially with the arrival of Fall, in a now, somewhat subdued, sweltering Austin. Now this search is about finding burger gems that toe the line of quality and value, and it would be unfair to include Hat Creek unless it held true burger promise. Well, fear not my faithful, promise I did find. Wade deep into their crowd pleasing menu and you will find some sauces, respectable bacon, and a proud practice of pickling that are worthy of a burger add on. Oh yes, I am recommending add ons. As much as I preach against the ordering of extraneous or excessive burger toppings as they deter better taste and plunder your burger budget, it is equally criminal to ignore options and upgrades that will make you smile with Bang for your Burger Buck satisfaction. I suppose you now want to bite into these juicy upgrades. Well, start your scrolling. 

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Lucky’s Famous Burgers – New York, NY

Burgers, New York City By September 30, 2015 1 Comment

The Vitals:
the burger: The Lucky, USDA Prime Angus patty, Iceberg lettuce, Spanish onion, vine ripened tomato, deli pickle, house sauce on a Martin’s Potato bun
the bucks: $6
the coordinates: New York, NY

I’m sure for many a New Yorker, Lucky’s Famous Burgers is just another blip on the burger radar screen. If you didn’t narrow your search down to $10 and under, it may not even pop up on Yelp. With no shortage of burgers in New York vying for your snuggle time at their counters, even at this price point, the question you might be asking right now is why go to Lucky’s Famous at all? Well for one thing, they take flattery with genuine sincerity there. I called up a few weeks ago to confirm some details on the bun and when I mentioned that I just loved their burgers, all at once I could hear the surprise, disbelief and gratitude, even over 3G.

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Mikey’s Burger – New York, NY

Burgers, New York City By September 15, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: The Mikey: 5oz NY Bar/Pub style meatballesque patty, topped with lettuce, tomaton, onion, corned beef hash and a mustard sauce
the bucks: $6.5
the coordinates: The Lower East Side, New York, NY

I have a confession to make: I have no sense of direction.

Feels good to get that one off my chest. So, last week I took on a rather gargantuan task of bringing Bang for your Burger Buck to New York City. One week and 1500 miles later, it feels good to say I have a fairly substantiated opinion of the burger scene in New York. But the trip was not without regret; I still long for the burgers I missed in the outer boroughs due to time, travel and stomach constraints. Because of this miscalculation, I am adopting a firm commitment to not trust any map, at least when it comes to planning burger trips in the New York metropolitan area.

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