THE GAME PLAN

We review the burgers

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hires Big H

400 South 700 East
SLC, UT
4 Patties

I first heard of this place when I was dating my wife back in 2006 but had never eaten there.  The story is told in similar fashion by people in New York saying they’ve never visited the Statue of Liberty.  Hires is somewhat of a landmark in its own, and not just in Northern Utah, as it has garnered a couple national recognitions.  You can find their fry sauce and root beer flavoring in local super markets.  Don Hale started Hires back in 1959 and was a grocer by trade.  I secretly think he started Hires so that his grocery store could be have exclusive selling rights to Hires products.  My business savvy ensures me that this was his original plan, but successful hamburgers always win out in the end.

I showed up thinking I was going to have to eat in my car, but soon realized people were streaming inside to eat.  The inside is nice, clean, and old.  If you have objections to low ceilings (for me low ceilings = nursing homes) or if your over 7’ tall, this place might be difficult for you.  The menu has a huge assortment of hamburgers – I counted 3 different kinds of bacon –  and sandwiches and other standard offerings for diner style hamburger joints.

I had the Roquefort Bacon H, with onion rings, and a mug of their frosty, proprietary root beer.  The burger had a great flavor with the Roquefort dressing on it.  The hamburger patties are square shaped and delicious (they grind their own chuck daily) but a little on the thin side.  The grilled country bacon though on the burger is excellent and makes up for the lacking meat flavor.  The veggies on the burger could have been better, lettuce wasn’t as crisp as could be, but I will bet it would be in the summer time, Hires claims to buy local produce.  The bun is phenomenal. There was enough flour dust on the tip that made we start to wonder if I‘d be able to get back through security on the return to work.  The bun is seriously amazing. 





The onion rings as well were think, well breaded, and well flavored.  I would have to say that they are the best onion rings I’ve had. The rootbeer I’ve had before and is good.  The frosty mug makes it better.

Overall this is a great place to have a hamburger, but was a little pricey.  I still don’t understand why onion rings or sweet potato fries cost more than fries.  I also didn’t notice that a frosty mug was more expensive than regular cup.  I dropped $11 here with a slight pang of cognitive dissonance.  As mentioned above, it is a nationaly recognized burger as Zagat rated it at one point one of the top 25 burgers in the country.  I personally can’t vouch for that but would definitely say it’s easily one of the top 25 in Utah, probably top 10-15 at this point.  I can’t wait to go back again.

Monday, August 5, 2013

JCW's the Burger Boys

3605 N Thanksgiving Way
Lehi, UT 84043
2.5 Patties

JCW's at this Lehi location has been one of the only restaurants near Thanksgiving Point for a very long time. You may know the area, as a Popeye's Chicken recently went in next door to JCW's and has been crowded since it opened.

My first experience of eating JCW's actually came in 2010 at the American Fork location. I was finishing up a golf tournament for the City of Trees (Pleasant Grove City), which my team won.  By the 17th hole I started to shake and thought I would pass out from lack of water and food.  I asked the three other players I was with what I should eat after the tournament.  They recommended JCW's.  After eating there I thought it was one of the better burgers that I had eaten in a long time.

Fast forward three years and once again I found myself at JCW's after golfing.  This time I was golfing at Bountiful Ridge with a great friend Kent Chester Low.  The round I would rather not remember, but the food I call into remembrance now.  Since I was not starving I feel that I am able to give a much more objective review.

As JCW's is the only burger place in the area I decided to eat there after one of my most recent rounds of golf.  I have never been in love (unless I am starving and I have a warped opinion because of how hungry I am) with their burgers because I feel they aren't that flavorful and they put way too much lettuce on their burgers (similarly to Subway).  I ordered the bacon cheeseburger with fries.  Once again, the burger didn't have a lot flavor and there was a lot of lettuce.


If you are really hungry like I was three years ago, this is a great place to eat.  Their fries are absolutely amazing and they have a good fry make.  You can also get a fairly large ice cream cone for $1.00.  I actually go to JCW's more for their ice cream then their food.

For a burger, fries, and a drink be prepared to spend up to $8 - $10 depending on the type of burger that you get.

La Beau's Drive-In

69 N Bear Lake Rd
Garden City, UT 84028
1 Patty

My wife's family has been coming up to Bear Lake since the pioneers came into Utah.  In fact, they may have just b-lined it right up to Bear Lake instead of heading to Salt Lake City.  My grandfather-in-law built a rustic cabin about 150 yards from the lake.  It is a great place to participate in late night games like Texas Hold'em and "naked in the lake".  As you can infer there isn't a ton to do at night, but there is one place that is crowded every summer night: La Beau's (a.k.a. La Boner's).

It should be noted that La Beau's is most known for their raspberry shakes which are amazing.  If this were a Utah's Best Shakes Blog it would rank fairly high up there.  This past trip to La Beau's my brother-in-law, Shaun Peter Garff, said I should get a burger for blog.  I did so and now am forced to write this review.  In fact, I feel bad about writing this review.  I am a people-pleaser, and any time I can give a nickname like La Boner's to a burger place I hope to give a good review.  However, this blog isn't about making friends or writing good reviews about terrible burgers.  (Remember this review is simply about one burger.  There may be other burgers that taste better than this.  Unfortunately, this burger was so bad that I will not be attempting any more burgers at La Boner's.)

I ordered the La Beau's Special and there was absolutely nothing special about this burger.  It had a small patty, it was flavorless, the "special sauce" they put on their tasted terrible, and the piece of ham wasn't great either. I couldn't even finish it because of how badly it tasted. I ended up throwing away what you see below.


Again, just from the picture above the burger just looks bland.  I am not even sure that hot sauce would have salvaged this burger.  You would be better off just drinking the hot sauce.  The fries also were not very good and the fry sauce tastes a little bit like relish.  Perhaps they put relish in the fry sauce, which is a terrible idea on their part.

If you are ever at Bear Lake I highly recommend going to La Beau's to get a shake.  If you are starving, simply buy more shakes.  The food will not cure your hunger.

Moochies!

232 E 800 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
One of the Best Cheese Steaks Ever!

You may be asking yourself what a cheese steak is doing on a best burger blog?  The answer is quite simple: Kyle and I both feel that this is one of the best cheese steaks we've ever tasted and one of the best eats in Salt Lake City.  We would be doing everyone (including ourselves) a disservice by NOT writing about Moochies in our beloved blog.  The place has become quite popular since its run in with Diners, Drive ins, and Dives, which can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_riHZlKFOc.


The cheese steak is made up of thin slices of rib-eye, mushrooms and peppers (optional at $.50 extra each), onions, and american cheese.  All these are molded together for an explosive amount of flavor and grease. Toss on their special jalapeno sauce and order a some of their beer-battered fries and you will be in for one of the greatest lunches of your life.


If you are going to Moochies be prepared to spend $10 - $13 depending on what you get.  The most economical way I have found is to go with someone, buy a footlong combo and an extra fries and a drink and you will be at $18.  This is cheaper than getting 2 6" with fries and a drink ($10.50).

P.S. if anyone has any information on their stolen naked lady statue, I believe the owners of Moochies would be very glad to get it back.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Emmett and Ethel's Burgers & Ice Cream

90 E. Main St 
LehiUT 84043

3.5 Patties


A few things I feel I need to cover before getting into the review:

  1. If your name is either Emmett or Ethel head on over for a free meal.  Unfortunately (really fortunately) no one in my family is named Emmett or Ethel so we paid for our food. (According to www.howmanyofme.com there are about 30,000 people named Emmett and 275,000 people named Ethel).  Surprisingly enough, one of my brother's high school friends was named Emmett.  
  2. There is a weird history behind the name of the restaurant.  The owners' great-great (or maybe just one great) grandparents were named Emmett and Ethel.  Emmett had some run-ins with the law - as almost all Emmetts do - and took off.  If anyone knows anything about him or what happened to him, I think you also get a free meal.  Very odd.  Luckily the semi-craziness does not get into the food stream.  
  3. The third thing you need to know (this is the last one I promise) are challenges: Man vs Emmett Burger  and Man Ethel Sunday.  Both quite expensive (about $25 a pop) and if you were to eat both the same day there is a mortuary not too far away.

Now to the review.  I decided to go with the Bacon Cheeseburger and fries (seen below):  It has a good, thick patty on a soft bun and  tasty toppings.  The flavor is good, but not explosive in every bite.  I have come to realize that the most flavorful burgers are those that have spicy sauce and/or jalapenos on them, I digress.  Nevertheless, this is still a good burger.  The fries are a bit dry and the fry sauce is not great, but they are still edible and filling.  For about $7.00 you can get a good meal.  


Five Guys - D.C. Metro Area

1825 I St NW 
Washington, DC 20006
4 Patties

This is our first "Out of Towner" post.  An "out of towner" is when one of us goes to another state and has the opportunity to try a burger.  I am not a huge fan of writing reviews for large chain restaurants.  However, Kyle and I have put this website together with the sole purpose of reviewing any and all burger and fry joints that cross our path.  I gladly shoulder that burden now.

The Five Guys that I went to in Washington, D.C. is actually in the Farragut West Metro Station.  Anyone who has traveled on the Metro will recognize the dark ambiance in the picture below.  I am pleased to say that the dark ambiance is not transferred into their foods.


This was my first time eating at Five Guys.  The main reason it has taken me so long to eat here is I am not a huge fan of "a la carte" burger joints. They tend to drastically jack up the cost of the meal.  Needless to say, Five Guys is one of the more expensive burger chain joints you can go to.

The burger ordering experience stressed me out a little bit.  You choose between a one patty (Five Guys "little burgers") or a two patty burger.  Then, you choose the different toppings that you want added to the burger.  This can be a challenge for those of us who have difficulty making decisions with lots of choices (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paradox_of_Choice:_Why_More_Is_Less), but there is one choice out there that stands out like a beacon: Hot Sauce.  I am pleased to say that Five Guys uses a Frank's-like hot sauce - http://www.franksredhot.com/ - (even if their workers don't know it) that makes everything better.

I got the Bacon Cheeseburger with hot sauce.  The meat patties were definitely some of the best as far as chain restaurants go.  They were a great mix of grease and flavor.  The fries were also very good.  One thing to note about Five Guys is that there is no need to get a large fry.  They give you more than enough with the small.

Overall, Five Guys is definitely one of the better burgers when it comes to chain restaurants.  Be prepared to spend anywhere between $7 and $10 on a burger, fries and drink.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Johnny Rockets

city Creek Location

To be 100% honest, I was not excited about eating here for multiple reasons.  The main one was because I ate at the Johnny Rockets at Knottsberry Farms in California a few years back and remember being unimpressed to the max, actually felt like a waste of money, actually overpriced mediocrity.  But I won a bet on the Heat beating the Pacers in game one of the ECF this year, so the loser got to pick where we ate, I just won the lunch.

If you have a phobia of things related to the 1950s like Grease, early Ford Fairlanes, or Norman Rockwell paintings, you probably should just continue onto the City Creek food court.  You’ll be inundated with it here. We were met by overly enthusiastic servers/staff, this is something I have a phobia of.  I once worked 2 weeks at a DX MAX sales job peddling phony products.  Every morning we had a group Ra-Ra which always ended with the cultic chant “J.U.I.C.E.    J.U.I.C.E.    J.U.I.C.E.”  which stood for Join Us In Creating Enthusiasm, which is what Johnny Rockets tries to do.  Bad memories and I haven’t responded well to exterior motivation ever since.

Our server looked and acted just Ned Nederlander in The Three Amigos. His mannerisms and body language looked like he just wanted to burst out singing “My Little Buttercup,” and he probably would have except Johnny Rockets have predetermined dance songs and this is not one of them.  You’ll probably see one on your next visit, bring the kids.  He even brought us small bowls that had ketchup smiley faces in them.  I added extra ketchup to my bowl to make it look like it was throwing up, which up to that point was how I was feeling on the inside.

Happy about tasting like vinegar


But let’s get to the food.  I had “The Houston” burger, came with fries.  Hot damn, this was a fabulous burger.  It had pepper jack cheese, jalapenos (good ones, not your typical Utah sissy ones), and enough “spicy-sauce” on it that the fingers were just about through the bottom bun before the last few bites.  It was great; I was wiping my mouth after each bite.  The bun was super buttery, and the meat had good texture and taste to it.  The flavors were individual to each ingredient.  It was an authentic hamburger experience at a chain restaurant.  Every bite conjured up the Sir Mix A Lot Jump on it hit.  "What's up Houston, what's up?!"  Some people don't even know this song exists
The Houston "What's Up!"

Note the real jalapenos, a rare siting in Utah


Allow me to preface my next point by reminding everyone that I am not a potato guy.  Their fries were awful, horribly awful, bland, and mushy on the outside and in.  If a high school senior who had already been accepted into the university of his choice had to make fries to suffice his final for a class, this is what he would’ve come up with.  I would easily bet that they fries were frozen at one point.  I ate them because someone else paid for them and that is just nice etiquette.  The main purpose of the fries at Johnny Rockets is to serve as a vehicle for ketchup and fry sauce (Utah’s two favorite condiments) into the body.


To sum it up, I would eat The Houston again and will probably never order anything else there, but not inside the restaurant.   At a little over $8 a plate plus tip (yeah right, who wants to do that) it might not be worth it, unless you can win a bet.  However, if the staff did the Carlton Bank's Jump on It dance, I will come back.