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Band Box Diner- Minneapolis, MN

Looking for new burger experiences can be exhausting. I find myself constantly looking at magazines, newspaper articles, and websites that list the ‘Top New Burger Joints’ or the ‘Best Burgers of 2016.’ These lists are gigantic especially in a place like the Twin Cities where new trendy food is popping up everywhere. Sometimes it’s nice to just step back and stick with a classic.

I first stumbled upon the Band Box in March of this year. And when I say stumbled I actually mean stumbled. Kelsey and I were walking around exploring downtown. A few blocks after we had passed the Convention Center I saw a small white building with red trim and the words Band Box across the top and Hamburgers painted prominently below the windows. What was this little place? I had never heard of it. But if I learned anything from my time writing about burgers in Houston it’s that the best burgers usually come from the smallest places. I was immediately overwhelmed with the need to go to this place. “If this place is open on our way back, I’m going in,” I told Kelsey. As my luck usually goes, it was closed on our way back. This only solidified our plans to go there the next evening.

I never wrote about my first experience at the Band Box. Or my second. Or my third. It was kind of my own little secret and I didn’t want to share. I felt like this little place, tucked away in a small corner of the Elliot Park neighborhood, only existed for me. But after all of these wonderful experiences I’ve had there I realized it would be downright irresponsible of me to not spill the beans on one of the best and underrated burger spots in Minneapolis.

Today, Kelsey and I spent the morning hiking around the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington. I had been gone on a three day field trip up in northern Minnesota with a few of my students last week, so Kelsey and I decided we wanted to have a date day. Hiking, burgers, and then a little exploring the cities. It was fairly cold out and heavy wet snow was new on the ground. But we kept at it through the mud and slush. Around 1:00 pm we headed back to the car to go downtown for lunch. “Band Box?” I asked Kelsey.

We arrived at the Band Box around 1:30 pm. We walked in and found the only table open near the back. The small red diner tables were filled as were the stools bolted to the floor in front of the bar: single, couples, families, and us. Most people were just finishing up. The Sunday lunch rush was nearing its end. Our waitress came to our table to take our order right away. Kelsey pointed out to me that it it very comforting that we have the same waitress everytime we visit. She is always there working her ass off serving, cooking, and cleaning. We wasted no time in ordering. I ordered the Double Cheeseburger with cheddar cheese while Kelsey opted for the single cheeseburger with cheddar both complete with fries. Simple.

Simple is the key here. There are no wild frills or thrills on the menu. This little diner serves up burgers, breakfast, and hot coffee. Everything is freshly made in house, or locally sourced. The same griddle is used to cook everything. A young man with a scraggly beard and a red bandana wrapped around his head is flying around behind the bar cooking everything at once. It’s just the way a diner should be. They keep things really simple and I think that is the key to their success.

Our burgers were up within a few minutes. As the waitress placed these behemoths in front of us I couldn’t contain my excitement. I immediately started to eat the hot fries and went to pick up my burger. Kelsey asked me if I wanted to take pictures for this post so I paused for a few agonizing minutes. The cheese was oozing and the smell of the buttery bun and beef was driving me insane. After the pictures, I crushed through the double burger and inhaled the french fries. The only thing left on my plate were a few slices of pickles and onion. Kelsey on the other hand had only taken a few bites of her burger. I do this to her all the time, and it’s not on purpose. I just have a tendency to eat very quickly while she takes her time. They do say opposites attract, right?

The burger:

The bun was toasted. And buttered. These are always two of my benchmarks of an excellent burger. The bun has to be toasted, and if you toast it you might as well butter it, too. This isn’t just a taste thing. Toasting and buttering helps to keep the moisture from the burger, cheese, and other toppings from saturating the bun. Nobody likes a soggy bun. The buns at the Band Box come fresh from the Franklin Bakery just down the road. Excellent choice.

The fresh black angus beef was seared nice and brown on the outside and cooked to a perfect medium well inside. Somehow the beef managed to stay really juicy without the drippiness. All of the flavor stayed inside the patties instead of all over my hands and plate. I’m not quite sure how they do it. Some people prefer that a juicy burger also be messy. I, however, do not believe this. Sloppiness does not equal flavor.

And finally the cheese. I was given the option between American, cheddar, or swiss. I went with the cheddar. I was delighted to taste the sharpness of the cheddar. Many times I find that restaurants will use a milder cheddar for the burger. The extra meltability of mild cheddar comes at the expense of the taste of a sharp cheddar. This cheese melted perfectly and molded itself into every crevice of the beef. Heavenly.

The fries:

I applaud the Band Box for their attention to potato choice. Ditching the typical russet they opt for hand cut red potatoes. These red potatoes fry up with a nice crisp without burning. They stay nice and soft in the center, but not fluffy like russets. To top it off they season the fries with Morton’s Season All. It gives the potatoes a nice subtle salty kick. No ketchup needed.

There it is. The secret is out. I have no idea why this burger isn’t ranked on the top burger lists I’ve seen. Sure, the Band Box lacks the novelty of craft cocktails, chef created burgers, kobe beef sliders, and all the other bullshit you find at the new trendy restaurants. But it does have a history of being the last of the 15 Band Box diners in the Twin Cities. It has been feeding the great people of Minneapolis for 77 years, and that speaks volumes, if you ask me.  They do things simply, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Band Box Diner
729 S 10th St
Minneapolis, MN 55404

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The Hay Merchant – Houston, TX

Ah Houston, it’s been too long. I left this mecca of madness over two years ago. Life got a little too real for me and I had to go. It was hard to leave, I had established myself here. Houston treated me well.  Art, entertainment, friends- this city had so much to offer. But, the best offering that Houston brought to the table (pun intended) was the food. Before I left I took a legal pad from my desk and, with bright red ink, scrawled a list of all of the burgers I wanted to eat and write about. When I finished compiling my list I was staring at a sea of red. I ate and wrote my ass off trying over the next few months to bust through that list before I left. I wish I could say I made a dent in that list, but there were too many burgers left uneaten.

After moving back to Minnesota, my need to write about burgers diminished. I tried several times to write about the many burger joints in the Twin Cities, but for some reason the spark was gone. I didn’t feel that unyielding desire to go out and explore. Don’t get me wrong- the burger scene in the Twin Cities is phenomenal. There are a multitude of restaurants stepping up the burger game featuring chefs that aren’t afraid to step back and  just make a damn good burger. But it just didn’t feel the same. I would eat, write, and throw it away. Eat, write a bad review, post, delete. Then I would just eat. The fire wasn’t there.

Coming back to Houston, to visit my mom, lit a match in the back of my brain. I was showing Kelsey around the city and drove by several of the places I had written about and found myself saying, “I’ve been there. I wrote about it,” or, “Tyler and I went there for one of our burger reviews.”

That red list that I had written years ago suddenly popped back into my mind. “You should write a new burger review,” Kelsey suggested and I agreed with a slight hesitation. Being out of the burger review game for so long I wasn’t quite sure how to bust back in. I tried desperately to remember all of the places on that list. What was one burger that I should pick from that list?

One burger in particular always struck me as peculiar is called the Cease & Desist burger, offered at the Hay Merchant as well as Underbelly. The burger was originally called the “IN-n-OUT” burger, named appropriately after the wildly popular IN-n-OUT burger chain and was a total copy of the double-double burger. Double patty, double cheese, lettuce and tomato, served with fries. The name of the burger eventually got around to IN-n-OUT and a cease and desist letter was served to the restaurants. So, why bother looking for a new name? It was right there in front of them.

The Hay Merchant is located on Westheimer Avenue attached directly to the backside of Underbelly. Westheimer has a reputation of being the trendy, hip neighborhood. Every city has them-In Minneapolis it could be compared to the Lyn-Lake area of Uptown. The Hay Merchant prides itself on serving a bevy of craft brews and unique snacks such as half a pig’s head served with tortillas. (Yum, pork eyes).

Walking in I could see that this place was fun not only for the patrons but the staff as well. It was TV dinner night: a gourmet 3 course “TV Dinner” style meal served while your favorite TV shows are shown. Not really my cup of tea, I was here for the beef. Kelsey and I took respite from the glow of the TV’s out on the side patio.

The patio proved to be an excellent place for this outing. The weather was actually cooperating and provided a cool(er) night than we had expected. String lights were hanging above us on this wooded patio. It almost felt as if we were on a patio at a friends house until you heard the buzz of traffic 20 feet away on the ever busy Westheimer.

Our waiter came and strangely said very little. He poured us each a glass of water from a glass liter bottle and asked if we wanted beers. We skipped the beers and went straight for the burgers. I would describe or service as “no shit customer service”. The waiter didn’t waste our time with mindless chit-chat or tell us anything we didn’t need to know. He took our order, served us, rang up the bill. He wasn’t an asshole, but he just gave us good service with “no shit.”

Now these burgers are supposedly parroting fast food burgers. But holy smokes, they came out of the kitchen about two minutes after we ordered. I’ve seen slower service at actual fast food restaurants. The burgers were served in a small basket buried in a sea of piping hot fresh cut fries. The only part of the burger that was visible was the top bun which looked buttery and smelled delicious. The veggies on the burger were extremely fresh. The tomato was thick and beefy. It had an actual bite to it that most tomatoes lack. The crisp iceberg lettuce was stacked proudly on top of the steaming beef and cheese. Not one for many veggies on my burger, I tossed both aside to get to the real prize.

The beef and cheese were intertwined perfectly into a melty savory mess. The beef was seasoned simply with ground pepper and salt, seared to a perfect medium well, and layered with cheese (Either American or a mild cheddar, it was hard to tell).

The real superstar of this burger, surprisingly, was the bun. Without this bun this burger would be nothing special whatsoever. The bun was buttered and then toasted to a dark brown, almost on the verge of being burnt, color. This did two things: it protected the bun from becoming soggy, and gave the burger this amazing taste. It had a flavor almost like a homemade grilled cheese sandwich. I pulled the bun up close and it smelled like toast from Denny’s. May not sound appetizing to some, but damn it was good.

The fries were good but nothing too special. Almost everyone serves freshly cut fries, but almost no one does them in a unique way. They all start to taste the same after a while. Hot, salty, good.

Go to the Hay Merchant. End of story.

Houston, I have to say this is a good welcome back. And I can’t wait to come back and knock more of these burgers down.

The Hay Merchant

1100 Westheimer

Houston TX

The Hay Merchant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

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Red Cow- Take Three: Oskar Blues Event

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The Red Cow has done it again. Quickly climbing to the top of the Minneapolis burger scene, the Red Cow continues to knock it out of the park with their inventive food and drink events. I have been fortunate enough to experience a few of these events, including the New Years Party and the one year anniversary of thier opening. Each time, the Red Cow offers an abounding assortment of new beers and great food.

This time around, Oskar Blues Brewery, based in Colorado, was featured in a one night event. Oskar Blues is a craft beer company that has the distinction of being one of the only craft brewers that exclusively can their beer rather than bottle it. From Dale’s Pale Ale to the Old Chub and Ten FIDY Imperial Stout, Oskar Blues aims to please every beer lover’s palate.

Oskar Blues, in addition to their brewery, also owns a Hops to Heifers farm. Here they feed the cows brewers mash, consisting of malted grains leftover from the brewing process. This ensures that the all natural Angus beef will be lean and tasty!

Obviously, the Red Cow couldn’t find a better match. At the special event, the Red Cow offered all of Oskar Blues’ brews as well as a new burger featuring beef from the Oskar Blues’ farm. This burger was appropriately named “Oskar Blues Burger.” And you may have already guessed that it is a black and blue burger: Freshly seared Oskar Blues’ beef topped with fresh bleu cheese and smothered with a rosemary and cracked pepper infused apricot jam. Tyler and I both decided to grab this limited special burger.

The food, surprisingly, only took a few minutes before it arrived in front of us. The smell of the beef and fresh fries filled the air. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the taste of the beef. The beef was buttery and left a smooth feel on the tongue. The apricot jam was straight forward in its flavor profile: the sweetness of the jam paired excellently with the rosemary and cracked pepper. The bleu cheese was a bit overpowering for me. I am not a huge fan of bleu cheese to begin with. Tyler, however, was not let down with the cheese whatsoever.

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Since I am not a huge beer fan I did not try any of Oskar Blues’ beer selections. Instead, I left that up to Tyler. Here’s what he has to say:

“I have tried a few brews from Oskar Blue in the past. The brewery had never really stood out to me until I tried the new and different beers that were offered at The Red Cow during the Oskar Blues event. I enjoyed two brews that evening: the Maker’s Mark Dale’s Pale and the G’Knight. Both were fantastic!”

“Of the two, I really enjoyed the G’Knight. It has a strong peach aroma and flavor to it, along with its dark red color. It is a smooth drinking beer with little to no bitter notes. It is somewhat reminiscent to the Shiner Holiday Cheer, but the overall tones are more developed and the peach flavor is less of a punch in the face. Definitely give this beer a try if you can find it. The G’Knight was a perfect pairing with the Oskar Blues Burger.”

Hats off again to the Red Cow and owner Luke Shimp.  If you have not yet been to the Red Cow, what are you waiting for?! Get up and get there ASAP! Your mouth can’t miss out on this amazing food. Even if you are not in the mood for a burger, there is plenty of great selections to please any person! My non-burger recommendations include the cheese curds with triple berry sauce, the pork belly sliders, or the shrimp tacos. Spread the word about one of the new best restaurants in Minneapolis!

Visit The Red Cow at:
http://redcowmn.com/
3624 West 50th Street,
Minneapolis, Minnesota
(612) 767-4411.
Red Cow on Urbanspoon

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Hubcap Grill – Houston, TX

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I recently made the long awaited visit to The Hubcap Grill in Houston, TX. The Hubcap Grill is a staple in the burger scene in Houston. Featured on many top burger lists, Hubcap Grill has a reputation that is second to none. They pride themselves on serving fantastic food and drinks while providing an atmosphere to please all.

I headed to the Hubcap Grill on a Saturday afternoon. As I pulled in to the dirt parking lot, I noticed that there was already a crowd gathering near the front. Crowds are most often a sign of one thing: good food.

The menu board hanging over the order window was daunting. There were so many choices. From simple to spectacular, all of the burgers sounded delicious. The Hubcap grill offers many novelty burgers, but if you’re a frequent reader you know I kept it simple. I ordered a double cheeseburger. Two 1/3 patties stacked with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mayo.

I did, however, go for the novelty factor with the fries. I decided on the Hell Fries. Fresh cut potatoes covered with jalapenos, cayenne pepper, and sriracha mayo. Sounded spicy enough; I can’t wait.

Fortunately my burger was ready after about ten minutes. I grabbed my tray full of goodies and had a seat at a picnic table around the side of the building. I couldn’t help but grin at the sight of the burger. This was one of the biggest burgers I’ve ever come across. It must have stood 8 inches tall. The burger patties looked way bigger than I had anticipated. Add to that the thick tomato and onion, this burger was a behemoth.

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My first bite into the beast almost dislocated my jaw. I felt a little like Guy Fieri. I really had to concentrate on how to approach this burger. The flavor of the beef was beyond comparison. Buttery, airy, expertly seasoned and cooked to a perfect medium well. The cheese melted between the patties adding even more savoriness. The veggies were fresh and complimented well. I was impressed to say the least.

The Hell Fries were the bomb. Cut and fried fresh; Hot and spicy. No need to say more.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this food was AMAZING. But I came nowhere near close to finishing all of this. Between the burger and fries, there must have been three pounds of food on my tray. Be warned- the portions live up to the Texas standard.

Above all else, the atmosphere at the Hubcap Grill trumps that of any other burger joint in Houston. Order at the window, grab a cold beer or craft soda, and head around behind the building to a picnic table. The junkyard decor, mixed with the mishmash of picnic tables, makes for a relaxed setting. This is a great place to chill with friends and enjoy the great Texas weather.

If at all possible, don’t skip the Hubcap Grill!
Hubcap Grill on Urbanspoon
Hubcap Grill
1133 W 19th St
Houston, TX 77008
(713) 862-0555

The Bulldog Northeast – Minneapolis, MN

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I was recently referred to another local burger joint here in Minneapolis: The Bulldog Northeast. My cousin Charity had told me about her burger experience there. She was describing a burger that had peanut butter smothered on it and topped with bacon. That was not really the draw for me, but she did say one thing that made my ears perk up: Waygu Beef.

Waygu beef is comes from a specific breed of cattle. The cattle tend to yield beef that has a great deal of marbling. This type of marbling is sought after because it can give a wonderful flavor and texture to the beef.

The Bulldog has been around for quite a few years now. It has won several awards in local publications for its food. So I thought, “Why not give it a try?”

I headed to The Bulldog on a Saturday night with my friend Tyler. Here was our experience:

Bruce: I was impressed with the atmosphere of the bar as soon as we walked through the door. The bar was huge and the place was packed. It seemed to be the place to be in Northeast Minneapolis.

Tyler:*DON QUINN! Don Quinn was there at the Bulldog! The bar is gigantic and takes up most of the main eating area. We were not lucky enough or cool enough to be seated at the bar. When we were seated at a side table I looked over the beer menu and they had a good selection of local and regional beers. I ordered a Summit Winter Ale and Bruce ordered a Dr. Pepper. The drinks came rather quickly considering how busy the bar was.

Bruce: I decided on a bacon cheeseburger with fries. Any good burger restaurant should be able to cook up this bad boy perfectly. This seemed to be the safest choice on the burger list as well. The Bulldog offers several “novelty” burgers to the more adventurous diner.

Tyler: I laughed at Bruce and his simplistic burger while I ordered the Chorizo Burger. Our orders were in and we waited and waited and waited. Keep in mind that the restaurant was very busy (we got one of the last open tables) but during our wait no one came to ask how we were doing or if we needed a refill on our drinks. By the time Bruce had eaten the last ice cube in his long empty Dr. Pepper glass, HIS burger was placed in front of him… it looked and smelled fantastic.

Bruce: Totally. The burger looked nice and buttery and the fries smelled fantastic. I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into this bad boy. But, not wanting to be rude, I decided to hold off until Tyler’s burger arrived. It seemed strange that our burgers didn’t come out together. As the food runner set my burger down I could see it in his eyes- Tyler’s burger wasn’t coming anytime soon.

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Tyler: I stole a number of Bruce’s fries (satisfying fries but they lacked salt) while I waited and before long our waitress came back and said, “How are the burgers here?” I looked at her and then looked down at my invisible burger and said, “I don’t know.” The waitress ran off to find my burger and only ten minutes later it showed up. I started by tasting just the Waygu Beef by itself, it definitely tasted differently than your average burger but not different or better enough to be a big selling point. Upon first bite of the burger itself… I tasted no Chorizo. Chorizo should have a spicy porky flavor but his Chorizo Burger had none. The burger itself was good but nothing that I would order again. Bruce, what are your final thoughts on The Bulldog?

Bruce: It was average at best. The beef was overcooked and there was no noticeable difference in the waygu beef. I’ve had lesser quality beef taste better. To me a burger is only as good as it is prepared. Unfortunately, we hit the Bulldog on an off night. It has won numerous awards for its food, but we did not see that on our visit.

I would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for a trendy bar to hang out at. The bar itself looks like the place to be with lots of beer on tap. If you are hungry, grab some food, but skip the burger.

* Funny story: As we were leaving, a big group of people were coming in. One of the guys in the group looked me straight in the eye and said, “Sup Don!?” I continued to walk out the door and he just kept at it: “Don…DON! DON QUINN!!!”

The Bulldog (Northeast)
401 E Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 378-2855
http://www.thebulldognortheast.com/
The Bulldog on Urbanspoon

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Review Take Two: The Red Cow, Edina MN

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Over the holidays I was fortunate enough to spend some time with my burger buddy Tyler. Tyler had previously done a guest review on The Red Cow back in October (Click here to read). So, instead of giving you the in’s and out’s of the joint, let’s jump straight in:

Tyler and I actually visited The Red Cow on two different occasions.  The first was a Saturday night and the second was on New Year’s Eve. This was great because I was able to try out several burgers on the menu.
Both nights we sat right at the bar. The bartenders were extremely friendly and very knowledgeable about the variety of beers and wines available as well as the food.

Up First: The Royale. I liked the name right off the bat. It reminded me of that car scene from PULP FICTION:

Vincent: And you know what they call a… a… a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?
Vincent: No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn’t know what the f*** a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: Then what do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a Royale with cheese.
Jules: A Royale with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: Well, a Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it le Big-Mac.
Jules: Le Big-Mac. Ha ha ha ha. What do they call a Whopper?
Vincent: I dunno, I didn’t go into Burger King.

This Royale came complete with a certified angus burger topped with pork belly, brie cheese, arugula, and tomato jam. It sounded interesting enough to me. The Royale sounded like an almost gourmet take on a bacon cheeseburger.

My first bite into the burger was a wonderful surprise. The beef was cooked masterfully. Medium-well cooked perfectly. The flavor of the beef was great by itself. Beautifully seasoned and seared to perfection.

But the rockstar of this burger was the pork belly. It was cut thick and the fattiness took the burger to flavor town. It gave off that great pork taste without adding any extra saltiness. Pork belly was an amazing departure from bacon.

The brie and the arugula added creaminess and spice to the burger. And the sweetness of the tomato jam closed out the entire flavor profile of this complex burger. My hat’s off to the chef. Bravo.

On my second visit I was able to try a special burger offered on the New Year’s Eve menu: The Oscar– a Pat LeFrieda burger topped with blue lump crab, asparagus spears, and a creamy Bearnaise sauce.

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This burger was over the top. Again, the beef was cooked to perfection. The blue lump crab had a fantastic freshness. The asparagus was cooked to a crunchy al dente. And the Bearnaise sauce tied it all together with a buttery kick to the mouth. The Oscar is like eating a surf ‘n turf (steak and seafood) meal all in one masterpiece of a burger.

I am floored by the talent in the kitchen. I have been to many burger places that claim they have the best burgers, or that they will cook the burger however you like it. But, the Red Cow certainly delivers on this promise. The kitchen staff knows what’s up.

If you have the chance, don’t miss out on one of the newest and greatest burger joints Minneapolis has to offer.

Also- if you get a chance, sign up for their e-club. For the price of a few emails, they will send you a free $10 gift certificate as well as a voucher for a free burger (any burger!) on your birthday.

Visit The Red Cow at:
http://redcowmn.com/
3624 West 50th Street,
Minneapolis, Minnesota
(612) 767-4411.
Red Cow on Urbanspoon

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Tasty Burger- Harvard Square -Cambridge, MA

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Harvard. The epitome of excellence all summed up in one name. This bustling college campus is known for its collegiate greatness. And located only a few steps away, in Harvard Square, is another establishment striving for greatness: Tasty Burger.

Tasty Burger doesn’t bury the lede when it comes to their product. Customers can only assume that they will have a tasty burger experience by the name alone. Does Tasty Burger live up to its name?

I headed to Tasty Burger for lunch on a Tuesday afternoon. After exploring the city of Boston, and taking the train out to the Samuel Adams Brewery for a tour, I was starving. As I came out of the subway station, I had only one place in mind. I had walked past it a few times on my trip and was eager to try it. The bright red colors of the sign, the white open kitchen space, and the transparent floor to ceiling windows all set the stage for what looked like an amazing burger joint.

The first things I noticed when I walked through the door were the smell and the sound. Hot seared beef was sizzling loud enough to fill the restaurant with that wonderful noise. The smell of the meat and the hot fries filled the air. I ordered a bacon cheese burger, fries, and a Coke and took a seat. The food was ready after about 10 minutes.

The burger came wrapped in paper and the fries in a fry box all on a plastic red tray. So far so good. I unwrapped the burger and saw the melted cheese still bubbling on the hot beef. Yum. The bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion all stood tall. The bun was soft and toasted.

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Bite one: Buttery. The beef and the bun. My mouth was filled with a smooth buttery taste and feel. The beef was expertly seared to a medium-well. Nice crust, perfect texture, and the exact amount of red that I like in my burger. Everything about this burger satisfied my needs.

Tasty Burger has delivered on its promise of its namesake.

The fries were hot and crispy. I added ketchup this time just to change things up. No complaints.

This place is perfect for a quick lunch, or a late night snack to sober up. And college students rejoice: its not that expensive! With an enormous menu of burgers, dogs, chicken, fries, and shakes, Tasty Burger doesn’t disappoint. Order at the counter, or head downstairs for a few beers and table service. If you are in Boston take advantage of their 3 locations. You won’t regret it!
Tasty Burger on Urbanspoon
Tasty Burger
40 Jfk St
Cambridge, MA 02138

Fielding’s Wood Grill – The Woodlands, TX

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The Woodlands has yet another new burger restaurant: Fielding’s Wood Grill. Founded on the principal of fresh ingredients and home-made everything, Fielding’s has set itself apart from the burger norm. Hormone-free angus beef served on freshly baked buns of all kinds are the staple on the menu at Fielding’s, but be aware of the hidden gems on the menu.

I headed to Fielding’s on a Friday evening. It had been open for roughly a month and I was totally unaware. Tucked behind a row of trees along Research Forest Drive, Fielding’s is almost invisible to the unaware. I wouldn’t have known it was even there if it weren’t for my GPS.

As we walked in we were immediately greeted by the hostess and she gave us a few minute wait time. After about 15 minutes we were seated. We had already looked at the menu, so ordering was quick.

I ordered the Smoke Burger: house grilled bacon, aged Italian provolone, oven dried tomatoes, grilled onions, fried egg, truffle bacon mustard, lettuce, all served on a milk bun. On the side I decided on the baked and fried potato.

Our food arrived at our table after about 15 minutes. Served on a small metal cookie pan covered with paper, the burger looked mouthwatering. The smell of the onion, bacon, and seared beef filled the air. I could see some bright yellow egg yolk running down the side.

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The burger itself was very well prepared. The bacon and Italian provolone was a nice savory note to pair with the truffle bacon mustard. The burger was delicious, but was also a hot mess to eat. The yolk from the egg proved to be too runny and soaked through to the bun. Once the yolk hit the lettuce and tomato, the burger became a slippery sandwich.

The fried potato proved to be a delicious alternative to standard french fries. The potato chunks were hot, fresh, and crispy!

I would recommend Fielding’s to anyone looking for a burger experience unlike most places. The atmosphere is wonderful and the food is good. It is, however, a little on the expensive side so don’t forget your wallet!

Fielding's Wood Grill on Urbanspoon

1699 Research Forest Drive
The Woodlands (Shenandoah), Texas 77380

http://fieldings.com/

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Shake Shack – New York City, New York

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New York City- The city that never sleeps, literally. There are people crawling the streets at all hours of the day and night. It’s a busy city with busy people. My visit was no exception. I explored as much of the Big Apple as I could in the short time I was there. Food was almost a secondary thought to me. Between the cheap pizza, street food, and high end restaurants, there is no shortage of options in New York.

Late Friday night I was exploring Midtown with my friend Bernardo. Bernardo is from Colombia and this was his first visit to the United States. We spent a few hours taking in some iconic art at the Museum of Modern Art before walking up to Times Square. After trudging through the crowds of Times Square we were hungry. Most of the restaurants around that area are very commercial and overpriced so we walked a few blocks down to find something else.

As we approached the corner of 8th Ave and West 44th St, I saw the beautiful lights of Shake Shack. I had heard of Shake Shack previously, but have never seen one; And if there’s one to see it’s this one. The big bright lights are reminiscent of Las Vegas. It was busy and inviting all at the same time.

We looked over the menu and went inside to order. There was an usher at the door telling us to keep the line moving. My question was: Where? This place was packed! Burger lovers convened here and I was starting to see why. Rather, smell why. The thick aroma of freshly seared beef and hot fries filled the air. It was a wonderful departure from the cold, and sometimes stinky, air of the city.

I stepped up to the counter and ordered a double shack burger with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce, cheesy fries, and a Coke. Bernardo, who I didn’t realize was vegetarian, ordered a fried portobello mushroom burger.

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This is normally the part of my review where I say, “We took our seat and waited for our food.” But, this is New York City. There was no way there could ever be enough seats for the volume of people who visit this restaurant. Bernardo and I acted as eagles, dodging in and out of the crowd to find newly opened seats. And eventually we did. Our food was ready after about 10 minutes.

The burger was wonderfully crafted. The bright color of the tomato and lettuce indicated its freshness. The burger sent steam right up through the cheese, creating a gooey masterpiece. The fries were piping hot and smelled delicious. I took my first bite and was amazed at how well the meat was put together. It had a fantastic fluffiness, giving the beef room to breathe. It was cooked to a perfect medium-well (my favorite). The ShackSauce went mostly unnoticed to me as the beef and cheese are the powerhouse of this burger.

Bernardo was having a similar experience with his ‘shroom burger. In his best English he could muster up he said it was wonderful. And from what I could see, it looked like a decent sized mushroom cap, breaded and deep fried to a golden crisp. If I was a mushroom fan I would have dug right in.

The fries were thin, crispy, hot, and salted and covered in melted cheese. Perfection achieved.

The menu at Shake Shack is huge. There is definitely something for everyone. If you are in New York City and are looking for a good, moderately priced burger, head to Shake Shack. You won’t regret it.
Shake Shack on Urbanspoon
Shake Shack
691 8th Ave
New York, NY 10036
(646) 435-0135

http://www.shakeshack.com

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The Shack- Cypress, TX

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The Shack is a fairly new burger joint in Cypress, TX. Located in the middle of no-man’s land, The Shack keeps customers coming back with their extensive burger menu, ample selection of beers, and unusually laid back atmosphere. Lets just say the entire experience is unusual.

The Shack; What an appropriate name.

I headed to The Shack with a few friends on a Saturday night. The weather was perfect for an outdoor adventure. When we arrived, I was surprised to see how many people were in the parking lot. The Shack is located in the middle of farmlands. It just seems out of place, and to have this many cars there was shocking. It took us about 5 minutes to get into the parking lot before settling the car down in an open muddy spot.

As we entered The Shack, we were greeted by the hostess and informed of an hour long wait. Seeing as it took us about that long to drive here, we decided to wait it out.

The wait only took about 20 minutes and we were seated at a picnic table just outside the back door. All of the seating at The Shack is outdoors. For this time of the year it was perfect weather; Almost on the verge of being cold!

Looking at the menu, I was astonished to see how many different burgers they had. All of their burgers are made from fresh beef and have a wonderful taste on their own. But, The Shack basks itself in the glory of novelty burgers. Out of 18 burgers currently on the menu, only a handful resemble regular hamburgers. With toppings ranging from Asian fusion brisket and Cheetos to caramlized bananas and Thai peanut sauce, The Shack has just the burger for everyone.

I chose the M’s Burger, Complete with Gruyere cheese, green onion, and slab bacon. I’m not the biggest fan of novelty burgers and I wanted to see what kind of flavor this place was capable of dealing out. Plus, I just really like to say Gruyere. “GRUYERE”. Classy.

The others at the table put their taste buds on the line with choices like the mac and cheeseburger, the 1836 (with chorizo, guacamole, refried bean spread, queso fresca), and the Texas flood (cheese stuffed burger, with cheese on top!).

We were also informed that the kitchen was all out of Brisket. Too bad, because the Southern Rock Fries ,topped with brisket, bacon and cheese, sounded wonderful. I went with my second choice of cheese fries.

Now the adventure was starting to unfold. We waited, and waited, and waited (I could go on, and on, and on….). Finally an order of fries appeared! Yucca fries.  Delicious. And then we waited, and waited, and waited.

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Burgers. Served on a giant metal pizza pan. Stacked to the sky! These bad boys looked and smelled heavenly. I quickly chomped into this burger. The beef was the dominating flavor. The ratio of fat to lean in the grind was perfect. The meat was very loosely packed in the patty, allowing the burger to be airy rather than dense. The Gruyere, and the bacon paired very nicely. And the onion tied everything together.

And the cheese fries….Hey wait! Where the hell are my cheese fries! I like to eat burgers and fries, not burgers then fries. Our waitress informed us that the fry cook is “going on strike” and we may be lucky to get our fries. Hmm….

My cheese fries, as well as my friend Zach’s fries, came out about ten minutes after we finished our burgers. Not the greatest. Average at best. They would have been better paired with my burger.

Hey, what the heck!!! I just saw a waitress go by with an order of fries with BRISKET on top?

For as good as the burgers are, the service is poor. Maybe that’s the trade off. Good burgers, poor service? Well in my opinion, both quality food and quality service are achievable. This place is crawling with teenage employees with no clear direction.

It’s worth a visit for the burgers. But, I’ll let you judge for yourself.

The Shack
16602 Cypress Rosehill Rd
Cypress, TX 77429
(281) 256-1575

http://www.theshackcypress.com

The Shack on Urbanspoon