Burger Anxiety \ˈbər-gər \ \aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē\
- The inability to choose a burger restaurant when presented with too many options.
“Bruce suffers from burger anxiety when searching for hamburgers to eat in the Twin Cities.”
This is a problem I’ve had lately. I can’t pick a place to eat anymore. Have I become complacent in my choice of burger restaurants? I’ve found what I like and I keep wanting to go back to the same places. I understand that is a problem for this blog and the Burger Radio Podcast. So every week I come up with the idea to go out and try some new restaurant, and I wind up suffering from this so-called burger anxiety. It usually stems from two things: cost and my taste preferences.
The Twin Cities has no shortage of excellent burgers. There are hundreds of restaurants that have jumped on the trendy burger fad. Every restaurant has a burger that is “to die for” or that is recently ranked on an Eater or Star Tribune or Thrillist or City Pages list. Food critics swoon for these fancy burgers that are spawned by executive chefs at hip restaurants. Restaurants with reputations that allow them to charge upwards of $16 for the burger alone! It’s ground beef and cheese on a bun…why should it cost so much?
Some of these premium burgers don’t align with my taste preferences. It is hard for me to go to a restaurant and order a fancy burger without sounding like a gluten-sensitive vegan with special requests. Beer mustard? No thanks. Horseradish cream? Save it. Arugula? None for me. Heirloom tomato jam? I’ll take Heinz 57 instead. I don’t mean to come off as a burger snob, but it’s a burger for Christ’s sake, let’s keep it simple.
These are the kinds of things that start popping into my head when thinking about where to get a burger. It becomes overwhelming, and I shut down. The pressure becomes too great, and I wind up going to Burger King instead.
So on my last burger outing, I handed the decision over to Kelsey. Earlier in the week I had texted her an article about under the radar burgers in Minnesota. “You pick a place and I will just say yes,” I told her. She pulled out the article and chose the Hi-Lo Diner in Minneapolis.
The structure containing Hi-Lo is a vintage 1957 Fodero Diner that was transported from Pennsylvania to Minneapolis. Despite its vintage facade, the restaurant opened it’s doors in March 2016. As the Hi-Lo Diner approaches it’s one year anniversary, they have much to celebrate. The diner has been written about and reviewed favorably by the top food critics in the Twin Cities and has a noteriety that rakes in the customers.
We were surprised to see it so packed for a Sunday afternoon. Every teal vinyl seat in the place was occupied. Minnesota was experiencing uncharacteristically warm weather for mid-February, so, fortunately, the patio was open. We were seated at a community picnic table alongside a mish-mash group of hipsters. There was a fire in a fire ring only about 8 feet away giving a wonderful aroma of camping and the outdoors. It was cozy to say the least.
Our server arrived after a few minutes, and we each ordered the Hi-Lo burger. 1/3 lb patty on a bun with American cheese, burger sauce, and pickles. Along with the fries it rounds out to $11 total. That’s not too high of a price point. Remember, that’s $11. Fries included. I ordered mine, per my usual specifications, with no pickles and burger sauce on the side.
As we waited, plate after plate of seemingly culinary masterpieces came out of the door. This place is a diner, but make no mistake, it was no greasy spoon. The food was Instagram ready. What else would you expect from a place with an executive chef?
The burgers were beautifully plated. The buns were a shimmering buttered golden-brown next to the neon green glow of the Hi-Lo pickles. Crinkle cut french fries were covered with red seasoning and the bright orange burger sauce popped off the plate. It looked and smelled amazing.
The bun was nice and thick. It was buttered and toasted and the edges of the perimeter of the buns held the most crunch. Toasting took the bun to the next level. The top bun didn’t get steamed out by the beef and the bottom bun didn’t get soggy. The thickness of this bun, however, could have paired better with a bigger beef patty. The bread-to-beef ratio was a little off for me, but delicious nonetheless.
Fatty beef! The beef was just fatty enough. It stayed juicy, but not drippy or greasy. The patty was cooked to a little more than medium-well, but the fat content and simple seasoning kept the burger flavorful. It was nice to have a hand formed patty. Every bite was just a little bit different from the previous.
The cheese was stock. American slice. Melty. American cheese is definitely not my favorite. It got the job done by adding a nice creaminess to the burger but just lacked in flavor. My question is: for a restaurant that is churning out culinary masterpieces, why did they choose such a shitty cheese? Have some respect for our taste buds.
The fries were crinkle cut and seasoned with a tangy seasoned salt. It almost gave a Lay’s BBQ Potato Chip flavor. The ones on top of the pile were delicious, no complaints. The fries that were on the bottom of the pile however…
Now try and stay with me here. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this burger. I highly recommend it. And it is a great addition to the Twin Cities burger scene. But I have to get this off my chest. They put pickles on my plate. Hats off to the chef for making and serving these sweet departures from dill pickles. But if you put 1/2 cup of pickles on the plate, then you better make damn sure that you don’t also put 1/2 cup of pickle juice, too. Most of my fries were soaked and soggy with pickle juice, as was the bottom bun of my burger. The taste of the pickle brine was too over powering. And if you were paying attention, you’ll remember that I ordered my burger with no pickles. Again, its not the end of the world, but for an $11 burger, c’mon, I want to taste the beef, bun, and cheese. Not the pickle juice.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Hi-Lo Diner. I can’t wait to return to try everything else on their menu. The crew in the kitchen is doing a hell of a job.
4020 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55406