Monday, April 29, 2013

The Best Massachusetts Burgers - Part 1

I’m proud of my generation, making a stand against the fast food restaurants that have dominated the region for decades. McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s were the only quick burger options in Massachusetts. But because of this refusal to eat processed meats and the desire for more options than just “would you like fries with that?” the result is dozens of premium burger places popping up around New England and hopefully staying for good. We saw how quickly food fads die when Krispy Kreme came to Medford back in 2003 and promptly left in 2005. Are these burger joints here to stay? I hope so. I also hope their presence makes In-And-Out, Whataburger and Sonic think twice about expanding in the Bay State. These options do not hold a candle to the burning inferno that is the new burger places talked about on this page.
I’ve sampled a few of the new burger places and graded them on the three things I like to see in burgers. Quality of the beef, price, time to wait for a burger and a bonus grade of how good their fries are. Each grade is out of a 5 star system and each cheeseburger was sampled without any toppings or condiments to not skew the reviews. Because let’s face it, if you’re ordering a hamburger over a cheeseburger you have bigger problems than “what do I put on my burger?”

DISCLAIMER: What I am not talking about here are the specialty Boston Burger joints that have been around for a couple years now. That goes for most of the Boston/Cambridge and Somervile Burger places like Park Restaurant, Grass fed, The Gallows, and Charlie’s Kitchen. This write up is for the new chains that will hopefully push out the places listed in the first paragraph.

5 Guys - (840 Calories per cheeseburger)  

I first had 5 Guys back in 2006 down in South Carolina and I was blown away. We just don’t get this kind of burger back in Mass. Since then, there have been 15 establishments that have opened up within 50 miles of Boston and the burgers are just as good as I remembered them. 5 Guys prides their burgers on two facts: no freezers exist in their buildings and there are 250,000 ways to order a burger at a 5 Guys. So that translates to the beef is never frozen giving a fresher, juicier burger and even folks with food allergies can get in on the 5 Guys experience. When ordering a burger, employees will have no trouble cooking a bunless burger for those that have celiac disease and whom are gluten intolerant. They recognize that folks who love burger and do not want to deprive them of good beef. So that means as they are building the burger which you can watch from the counter, they will carry the patty to the tinfoil and pile on the lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles before wrapping it up for the customer. Customers can choose to bring their own glutenfree bread or carry out. There is a great selection of toppings to choose from including different sauces (personally I eat my cheeseburgers with ketchup on the side, dipping the edges of the burger as I choose) including Hot sauce, BBQ Sauce and A1 Sauce??

Cheeseburgers start around $6 but the cost can quickly escalate when you start adding fries and drinks. Don’t be surprised when an order for two order is in the upper $20s. Add Bacon to an “All the way” (meaning all the toppings) Cheeseburger (920 Calories) can cost up to $7.80.A large frie is $4.99 and believe me, a large is freakin huge. I’d recommend sharing even a regular order but boy are they good. Most 5 Guys have a white board on the wall depicting where their potatoes are from. Which doesn’t really add anything to the taste but it’s a nice nod to local produce (where available). The fries always catch me off guard because they are typically smokin’ hot when they are served to you. Crispy on the outside with soft innards. It really is the perfect frie. The other great thing about 5 Guys is the wait. Even when they are busy, standing for your order is not a tiring, aggravating event. There's definitely a reason why it's called "5 Guys Famous Burgers and Fries".

I started with 5 Guys because they have proven to be an all-around great experience in the four areas I mentioned above. Delicious trans-fat free burger, short wait, decent price and Fuxin fantastic fries.