Scarlett Begonia – Santa Barbara, CA
As a self-proclaimed carnivore, the words “Farm Fresh” and “Grass Fed” can be quite chilling. While this only refers to the quality of the stages of food production, any words that even hint at vegetarianism are just down right scary. I don’t mean to offend the vegetarians and vegans of the world, but honestly, it brings a tear to my eye whenever I see some form of meatless, vegan, tofu burger on a menu. Stick to your salads guys. Burgers are my territory.
Luckily, this was not the case at Scarlett Begonia in Santa Barbara, CA. After having showed up for what I thought would be a quiet, casual omelet and mimosa brunch, I was immediately floored when this colossal, jaw-dropping Goliath of a burger came floating through the room. While just a mere glimpse of this beauty had sealed my decision, the menu description set my expectations even higher: grass fed beef, heirloom tomato, tempura fried onion, butter lettuce, bacon, English cheddar cheese, begonia sauce served on a house-made potato wheat bun. The meat, the sauce, the bread, and the bacon were all prepared to perfection and with a hint of originality in every bite. Definitely not your typical burger, or your typical brunch, but it’ll for sure give you a feeling of accomplishment once your plate has been cleaned.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Pickles
The Theory of Burgertivity
Santa Barbara Brewing Company – Santa Barbara, CA
As I sit at my work desk, counting down the minutes till my lunch break, my thoughts slowly drift from the task at hand to memories of burgers past. During this random yet seemingly reoccurring reflection, I wonder if my best burger days are behind me. What if I already found the perfect burger and have yet to realize it. I pray that I’m wrong but this innate fear of mine got me thinking. Is there truly one perfect burger that puts all others to shame? Or, is the potential for a perfect burger only relative to the consumer? What if there exists one burger in the world that is constant and the quality of all other burgers is relative to that on perfect burger? If only Einstein’s love of burgers had equaled his love of physics, than maybe this conundrum could have already been solved. For now, let’s keep the science out of it and assume that there’s a perfect burger for everyone.
While I am constantly striving to expand my burger palate, I find myself a little bias when it comes to a restaurant’s burger section on a menu. Of course there are items that stand out in quality or uniqueness or sheer excess, but if I am to ever find my perfect burger, I’m pretty sure it would contain these three ingredients: Bacon, avocado, and cheese. Consequently, I end up with a bacon avocado cheeseburger more often than not in the hope that I will find my burger soul mate. Though it has yet to be found, the Santa Barbara burger at the Santa Barbara Brewing Company went above and beyond my expectations. Maybe it was the warm August weather, the cold beer in my hand, or the celebration of La Fiesta that aided in this burger’s awesomeness, but no matter what, this burger made my day. ½ pound, 100% ground chuck cooked to perfection on a toasted sesame bun with my favorite toppings to boot. Despite this burger’s seemingly precise execution, I still have faith that there exists a king of burgers, more powerful and mightier than all others. My quest continues.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Pickles
3 Square Burgers a Day
3 Square Cafe & Bakery - Venice, CA
When I’m hungry, and I mean truly hungry, the idea of a pretzel is the last thing that comes to mind. Maybe if I had some German or Austrian heritage things might be different, but unless you’re at a shopping mall food court or raiding your pantry cupboards, I just don’t see pretzels gaining any popularity. So on a random Sunday afternoon, while strolling down Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, CA, my outlook on pretzels took a turn for the better. So just how did the gifted culinary minds over at 3 Square Café do it? Well, they put it on a burger of course! Such a simple yet brilliant solution. If I ever write a self-help book, I fear my solution to every query would be to just “put it on a burger.” Consequently, I don’t recommend seeking my advice on any personal matters.
Anyway, back to the burger at hand. 3 Square Café is a unique restaurant that embodies the casual and contemporary vibe of the Abbot Kinney neighborhood. Their adjoining bakery should give you a heads up that any item with bread on either side is going to be phenomenal. Credit must also be given to the quality cooked meat, the slightly sweet caramelized onions, and always delicious Swiss cheese. All in all, a good burger with a German twist that will forever change the way you think about pretzels.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Pickles
Reinventing Burger Me This!
Dear all BMT fans and followers,
I am issuing a formal apology for my 6 month hiatus. You have burger needs and they deserve to be met. I assure you that BMT is back and will continue to provide you with quality burger reporting and in depth burger analysis.
Lab Test: No Urine Cup Necessary, Just Ground Beef
I have been a follower of Burger Me This for my whole life, which is why it is my honor to guest blog on this world-renowned site. How did I earn the chance for this guest blog, you may ask? Through common love of karate, in which we have both earned reputations as some of the top fighters in the world.
At the first glance of the menu at the Lab, one of USC’s overpriced restaurants, I instantly knew I would be having the Lab Burger. The waitress looked super impressed as I ordered with such authority. She probably had no idea who we were. This bad boy was fully-torqued with bacon, avocado, cheddar cheese, onions, and garlic aioli sauce. Fire up! I decided to dig in. The garlic aioli sauce was a perfect complement to the burger, bacon, and cheese. My only concern was that the bun was sort of dry like a sponge. I tried not to think about the sponge bun as I ate. Never back down! The dojo would have been pretty proud. The bacon and aioli sauce made up for the bun, which is why I never put down the burger after I started. Ultimate!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 pickles.
Brunch Burgers in Boston
Russell House Tavern – Cambridge, MA
Today I made one of the saddest realizations of my life. I left a burger behind. And not just any burger, but one that I envisioned and felt determined to bring to fruition. It was exactly a year ago to this day that I enjoyed this beautiful burger and somehow it managed to slip my mind until now. It may be due to its controversial nature, seeing as I decided to add an ingredient like no other: a crispy fried poached egg. That’s right! Now I have to mention that this was not an optional topping or side dish offered on the menu, but rather a totally separate brunch entrée, which for some insanely genius reason, I thought would make a killer burger combo. And of course it did, though at the expense of my usually stringent burger-eating rulebook.
(credit must also be given to my food companions who strongly advocated for the fusion of these two brunch items)
The burger itself was listed as the R. House Grass Fed Burger, consisting of a griddled English muffin, Vermont cheddar, smoky bacon, and onions. While I would love to give it a 5 pickle rating, I feel my crispy egg intervention circumvented the burger’s legitimacy and therefore, it deserves a proper markdown. On its own however, the burger at the Russell House Tavern is as delicious and perfectly prepared as you would expect from any contemporary dining establishment. From the bread to the bacon, every ingredient is fresh, properly paired, and cooked to perfection. However, if you find yourself not craving a burger but more in a brunch kind of mood, order up the crispy poached eggs. They’re pretty awesome.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 pickles
Beauty is in the Eye of the Burger-Holder
Mini Burger - New York, NY
Seeing as my previous post told of my slider success, I thought I should follow up with a slider failure. Though I have to say, I never look forward to writing such sad reviews (especially ones where the burger’s beauty far outshines its inner beauty). I won’t go into too much detail on this one, just promise to trust me and not fall in love with the deliciousness that this burger appears to represent. First off, I ordered 8 sliders with a side of tots. Two hours later the burgers finally arrived, minus the tots. Second, the bun was leaning towards the stale side. Third, and most importantly, the meat was as dry as dry could be. I have to say, it was one of the saddest moments of my life. No joke. I considered passing on this review seeing as Mini Burger no longer exists; however, I hope that my insight may shed some light on what led to their demise. I can only pray that I will never encounter a burger of this quality again.
Rating: 1 out of 5 pickles
Point Break Burgers
Longboard’s Grill - Santa Barbara, CA
Question: what’s better than one greasy cheesy diner style burger? Answer: 3 greasy cheesy diner style burgers, of course.
While I’m constantly on the look out for good burgers, I’m even more vigilant when it comes to awesome looking slider burgers. Though smaller in size, the extra two sliders tend to alleviate any feelings of mourning or loss I experience when completing a normal sized burger. I have definitely been burned in the past with sliders, but my recent trip to Longboard’s Grill on Santa Barbara’s Sterns Wharf helped reaffirm my faith. Delicious in every sense: Lettuce, tomato, American cheese, perfectly cooked house-ground beef, toasted sesame seed buns and their own secret sauce. I would neither add nor take away anything.
Though nothing was over the top or original, these basic components are exactly what every burger and slider should aim to achieve. So if you ever find yourself strolling along the pier, in need of a strong drink and an accompanying meal, check out the sliders at Longboard’s. Just beware the Wipeout specialty drink. Your memory of the meal may dissipate.
Rating: 4 out of 5 pickles
Welcome to California, Have a Burger
In-N-Out Burger - California
Nothing to me sums up California better than In-N-Out Burger. One might even argue that their Double-Double played a part in my recent move to the state. Prior to my move to New York, In-N-Out was my go-to burger joint and being away for the past four years has definitely triggered some serious separation anxiety. In fact, one of the happiest days of my life was when an In-N-Out Burger opened up in my hometown of Scottsdale, AZ when I was 12 years old. But once again, my burger nostalgia has caused me to digress.
All in all, In-N-Out burger is awesome. I have encountered the occasional skeptic, although I tend to find their arguments lacking. For a simple drive-in restaurant, In-N-Out has its own character and personality which is exemplified by its simple menu and its burger’s original flavor. A consistently great burger and a definite must when you’re in California or anywhere in the southwest.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 pickles