My in-box this morning included an email from Zagat listing 15 “splurge-worthy” burgers. It was the usual suspects of conspicuous consumption. I enjoy “prime Wagyu rib-eye,” “short rib,” and “hangar steak,” which is why I don’t want them ground into a burger patty and fried. Also, putting a Maine lobster on top of a burger patty sounds like a great Man Vs. Food challenge but not really my idea of fine dining.
I don’t eat burgers often (I prefer my red meat intake in the form of a steaks and roasts), but when I do, and provided I’m in the right state, I enjoy In-And-Out and Five Guys. I won’t leap into the debate about the superiority of either. I find them distinct enough to make a comparison superfluous. However, what they have in common is simplicity, which is what I believe best serves a hamburger.
During my youth in Greenville, SC, my favorite places for a burger were one of the many Carolina Fine Food/Pete’s/Tic-Toc diners. The menu was always about the same — sometimes the fries were different. Pete’s had a series of identity crises — there was plain-old Pete’s, Original Pete’s, Pete’s Original, and Como’s Pete’s. There was also the more laidback Petee’s Drive-In. Anyway, no matter where you went, the burger came prepared one way, and there wasn’t any brie cheese of pepper jack or Tillamook but American cheese slices. I’m not a patriot but I support American cheese on a Southern burger.
When I was a senior in high school, my burger allegiance shifted to Bee Bee’s Drive-Thru. I regularly consumed the “Rush Limbaugh,” which was a double cheeseburger served with fries, onion rings, and sweet tea. This was Greenville, so I think the name was a tribute to the odious radio personality rather than a dig at his weight. I’ve enjoyed few burgers more. Even now, the special will only run you about $7. And the ketchup doesn’t come in a silver cup. That’s always a sign of trouble.
If you can’t handle Limbaugh even in effigy, and I don’t blame you, they also have great chicken fingers, which might sound like a slam at liberals, but are actually very good fried chicken breast strips.