Ahhh … the sacred Burger
If you were to ask me what I would eat for my last meal in this grand show we call life I’d say “a cheeseburger” … and likely without much hesitation. Odd to think that a humble and relatively inexpensive food that I’ve shoveled down my gullet hundreds of times would come to mind in response to that question but I’m guessing that the majority of men on earth that have tasted a really good cheeseburger would not respond any differently to that inquiry. Let’s face it. Guys love burgers.
Now if you asked a woman, she’d likely choose something with chocolate in the ingredient list. But there are plenty of gals out there that love burgers too (as the intro video above readily reveals).
“Burger joints” are not just restaurants, they have become a central part of American culture and have quickly become such throughout the world. I can remember my older sister jumping up and down, exclaiming her excitement when the first McDonald’s opened in Fort Worth back in the early 60’s. To her, this meant that our little hometown had come of age.
As an adolescent I was always thrilled when the family would go to Kip’s for dinner. And I always ordered the Kip’s “Big Boy” hamburger. Wow … two layers of meat.
I can remember the novelty of sitting in a big parking lot, relaying my order to the cook by the electronic magic of a microphone and speaker perched on a post next to the driver’s seat window and then being delighted as a “car hop” delivered it straight to the car window gliding across the parking lot in her black-checkered skirt on a pair of bright pink roller skates. This was more than the routine act of taking the order and delivering it … This was entertainment.
And of course, in high school, the local Griff’s “drive-in” was the place to gather. Later, after graduating from college, the Adair’s Saloon was the perfect spot to meet friends for a beer or two (or three, or four). They had “Lone Star” on draft and Pabst Blue Ribbon in cans. Combine that perk with a big ½ pound burger and you’ve got something close to heaven.
The burger at Adair’s came two ways … with or without cheese. This was a far-cry from the fancy “gourmet” burgers we find today at high end restaurants, piled high with sun-dried tomatoes or sweet caramelized onion and sauces reduced from jiggers of Jack Daniels whiskey. There’s a restaurant in London called the “Honky Tonk” that serves up a burger with lobster, caviar and white truffle shavings for a mind-boggling US$1,768.
The Battle Begins
So having concluded that the humble cheeseburger ranks at or near the top of the world’s most important foods it is no surprise that our website’s inaugural “face-off” seeks to find a place serving the best burger in town. And “Which town?” you ask. Well … we hope to have a grand finale that crown’s the “Best Hamburger Joint in South America” soon but the first fight in this epic battle unfolded in Santiago, Chile.
Burgers in the good ole USA are about as common as doctors featured on the Oprah show. But the burger is a recently new phenomenon in most parts of Latin America. The latest gastronomical craze seems to be restaurants offering quality “craft” and “gourmet” burgers. So it was actually pretty easy to find an assortment of restaurants for our first face-off.
We put out “feelers” to find ten nominees and then off I went to chow-down on buns and beef. But before we give you the “blow by blow” description of the battle, let’s set the stage. Let’s talk a little bit about the magnificent burger and the qualities that distinguish a good one from a really great one.
When we first decided to do this face-off we struggled with the concept of whether we should judge the burger or the place. We settled for a compromise.
When we review restaurants we typically give equal weight to factors that affect the entire dining experience … things like service, ambiance and creativity play heavily into our rating of a restaurant. But when judging the Best Burger Joint in Town we wanted to make the burger the primary factor in the contest. So we weighted the various elements affecting the entire burger dining experience, giving the most weight to the burger itself. In our analysis the execution and taste of the burger represents 70% of the total score (40% for the taste of the meat, 10% for the garnishes. sauces and toppings, 10% for the fries that accompanied our burger, and another 10% for the almighty bun that holds it all together). The other 30% was divvied up between service, ambiance and value.
A little diversion: U.S. Fast Food Chain Hardee’s and Carle’s Jr. has won acclaim (and, of course, a little bit of criticism) for these cleverly produced television ads that are both funny and sexy featuring celebrities and super-models. After you’ve viewed these check out the parody of the Drive-In commercial at the end of this article.[vimeography id=”11″]
Our Wrap-up to the Santiago Burger Joint Face-off
After sampling the offerings of ten of the best burgers in Santiago we’re pleased to wrap-up this little face-off up. Thank the Lord that it’s over. One more burger would have broken the bathroom scale. Our next face-off will have to be something with a little less fat and fewer potatoes. Maybe a ceviche or salad face-off. Doctor’s orders! Read the INTRO here. It sets the stage and tells you how we judged the restaurants (which was slightly different than our usual rating system).
Let’s summarize the results, shall we? Coming in at the bottom of bunch with both the lousiest tasting and the highest priced burger in the lot was the Hard Rock Cafe. This place is a fun place to go for a drink but if you’re looking for a good burger there are much better burger joints within walking distance from this place.
Want a burger late at night … say around 1:30 a.m.? Well you won’t do much better than California Cantina in Providencia. It’s also a good place for a beer at a reasonable price.
Lunch at La Burguesía is a good choice. Just hope it’s not raining or you might get wet.
Mr. Jack has good burgers. But they’re a bit pricey and the sterile tile and stainless steel surroundings are a bit of a put-off. Within a few blocks you can find an equally good burger that’s a couple of lucas less in price.
Amazingly, the best burger and fries in the contest was at a delivery and take-out place in Vitacura, Volcano Cheeseburger. But shortly after we published this article Volcano Cheeseburger had closed its doors. But the website indicates they might be back. We’ll be watching and if they make a come-back we’ll be there to update everyone on the new location and we’ll once again put their burgers to the test.
In the final analysis, if you’re looking for a great place to enjoy a burger your best bet is in Bellavista at either Ciudad Vieja or Uncle Fletch. Uncle Fletch edged out its nearby competitor slightly with an overall score of 4.2 stars.
So “YES”. Not only was Uncle Fletch a pioneer by creating the first burger joint at the 1904 World’s Fair but he apparently can also claim the honors of “THE BEST BURGER JOINT IN SANTIAGO”.
Congratulations to Uncle Fletch!
See the results for all the burger joints we visited in the Ranking Table below. Click on the restaurant name to read the full review for that restaurant.
NOTE: Although we had already completed our sampling for the competition for the 2015 Burger Joint Face-off when Fuddrucker’s Hamburgers first opened their doors in El Golf, during the first week of 2015, we have already tasted some burgers on their menu. And let me tell you … the burgers at Fuddrucker’s are good enough to put them in the running for the top burger in the city. They’ll have to wait a year to compete in the face-off for 2016. But in the meantime you can read my review of Fuddrucker’s here.