Tag Archives: burger time

Kings of Kobe

Kings of Kobe is a newly crowned burger and hot dog monarchy that rocks some royally special menu items.

They use high quality Schweid & Sons American Wagyu in all of their burger offerings, and their Snake River American Wagyu beef hot dogs are topped with things to make them international in scope, in addition to domestic.

For example, the Vietnamese sandwich inspired “Banh Mine” dog is topped with marinated cucumbers and carrots, cilantro and sriracha aioli to harness that banh mi flavor profile.

In fact, the hot dog products here are the best I’ve had in the city. They’re thick, delicious and satisfying.

The Notorious P.I.B.
Waffle Hot Dog

In scanning the menu, my eyeballs instantly went to the King’s Standard burger: roasted tomato, white cheddar, pickles and cherry pepper aioli.

This baby was bursting with flavor. The roasted tomato is such an awesome substitute for ketchup. The patty was cooked perfectly. It had a nice crisp char on the outside. It was think enough to remain pink through the center, without being too thick that it becomes unwieldy to eat. My only gripe is that I wished there was one more slice of cheese on this baby, to satisfy my love for cheese-laden “roadside” style burgers.

We also tried The Queen Rules, which is topped with prosciutto, pepper jack cheese, frisee and sweet chili jam.

The sweet chili jam was similar to a relish. I generally dislike relish, but this one was tasty. I liked this burger a lot but I still prefer the King’s Standard over this one.

The battered fries are super crispy and nicely seasoned.

And of course, we tried a chocolate shake.

The full spread:

The menu is really interesting, and the prices are extremely fair for these high quality offerings. My buddy Rev told me about this place and hooked up a comped press visit for me and my wife. I am eternally grateful. My burger delivery options just went bonkers.

KINGS OF KOBE
790 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Beach Bunnies

Right on A1A in Las Olas sits this ocean-side burger and two-for-one giant margarita joint.

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The burger was apparently voted “best in Ft. Lauderdale,” but I’m hoping there are better options out there.

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The burger was good and juicy, but lacked seasoning on the patty itself. It could benefit from more cheese too, perhaps.

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Fries are sold separately, and you can cheese either seasoned curly fries, or sweet potato waffle fries.

The chicken tacos were pretty decent, despite the cheese being your standard bagged/shredded style.

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Teddy’s Bigger Burger

Teddy’s Bigger Burger

This is a Shake Shack / Smash Burger type of joint here in Hawaii. You can order your patties in three different sizes: 5oz (big), 7oz (bigger) and 9oz (biggest). Then you can go double on them if you want.

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For my 5th burger of the trip, I went with a biggest (9oz) burger with American, jalapeños and all the fixings. Take a look:

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It was slightly over medium, but not by much. I liked this burger a lot. It had a good bun (though not potato, or “King’s Hawaiian” as I might have expected), great cheese coverage, and quality toppings.

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On the side we tried the tater tots, which were awesome and crispy, and the garlic fries, which were really overloaded with minced garlic.

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Cheeseburger in Paradise

Cheeseburger in Paradise

Tourist trap? I don’t care. The food and atmosphere were awesome here. You’re right on the fucking pacific.

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In fact when waves roll in hard sometimes you can get sprayed if you’re at a table on the first floor in the back by the windows. There’s a little tiki bar on the second floor, along with a Jimmy Buffet-esque singer/guitarist playing tunes.

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I ordered the classic cheeseburger as my 4th burger of the trip, which came with pepperjack, lettuce, tomato, onion and special sauce on a salt and pepper bun. Really nice looking burger.

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It was cooked perfectly at medium, super juicy and good cheese coverage. The soft bun added a lot of flavor with the seasoning on top. I devoured this thing!

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Drinks were fun here too. I had a Maui lemonade of some sort, which was gin or rum, lemon, soda, and thyme, if I recall correctly.

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L&L Drive Inn

This was a kiosk at the Cannery Mall food court in Maui, Hawaii.

L&L Hawaiian BBQ is a fast food type restaurant that has locations all over the place. There even used to be a location down by NYC’s South Street Seaport, but that has since closed. Anyway, this place has a take on the ramen burger, called the saimin burger, which I tried as burger #3 of the trip.

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It was dry as fuck and hot as fuck, but it was a fun item to try. No cheese, just lettuce and a soy-BBQ type sauce drizzles on. I’d pass on this item unless you really need to try it.

Bully’s Burgers

Bully’s Burgers

This is pure roadside awesomeness. This little shack is an outpost for Triple L ranch, which develops 100% all natural grass fed beef.

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They use a special flavoring, perhaps teriyaki, worked into the grind that gives this shit a really awesome uniqueness. My second burger of the trip was a hit. It may look overcooked, but the cheese and flavor was enough to make it work.

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Check out my wife’s “grilled cheeseburger” as well. This was so gooey, buttery and toasty!

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Burger Heaven

Last week I walked by this joint and realized that I still hadn’t eaten there. It’s close to my office, so I figured I’d come back soon to try.

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So this week I ordered their Burger Heaven burger for delivery. For $16 it comes with fries and coleslaw, and is topped with their special sauce, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and American cheese. Sounded like a pretty good deal to me.

Here’s what it looked like when it arrived:

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In a span of about three streets, it managed to get almost completely fucking mangled into an incomprehensible mess. After some tinkering, wiping, stacking and organizing, I managed a halfway decent reassembly. See below:

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I ordered medium. Not quite:

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The meat lacked seasoning, the cheese was over-melted to the point where I know that their griddle probably retained the majority of it (the cheese likely having slid off during the melting process), and the onions completely overpowered the flavor of the meat and ultimately ruined the burger. Whatever they cooked the onions in was bitter-sweet, dark red in color, and completely sucked.

Their special sauce was a thousand island dressing type of deal, which is fine on its own, but this crap went way the fuck overboard with the relish and diced red pepper in the mix. It was hideous; too overpowering in the “sweet pickles” flavor department. Ugh.

I also ticked off the “pickles” box on my order form, expecting them to be ON the burger. Instead I got a single soggy, super sour pickle spear in a plastic bag on the side. Oh well.

In retrospect I probably should have just ordered their classic cheeseburger for $10 (without fries), but it seemed like a bunch of bullshit that this place was then going to charge me $1.25 for lettuce and tomato. So I opted for their namesake burger.

Thoroughly disappointed, I moved on the the equally dreadful french “fries.” I put “fries” in quotes here, because I typically associate fried items with crunch, not sog. Every fry was limp and soggy, mushy: like a 90-year old man’s non-functioning skin-sock. Look at these pathetic fucking things:

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Part of this could be the fact that the food was transported in a closed tin, which was then stuffed haphazardly into a closed paper bag, which was then tossed into a plastic bag with reckless abandon, and then slogged over three streets to its demise by someone who gets paid so little that they could not possibly give any fewer shits as to whether the product actually satisfies the ultimate customer.

As for the coleslaw? Watery bullshit. I have a thing with coleslaw anyway. Feel free to listen to this episode of the Hungry Dad’s podcast (at 00:17:40 – 00:20:22), where I explain my aversion to a specific style of coleslaw… Anyway, I took two bites just to try it, but as I suspected, it was pure, unadulterated garbage.

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So to sum this up for you burger enthusiasts: Skip this place. Burger Heaven? No… More like Burger Hell (had to do it).

BURGER HEAVEN
9 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

Empire Diner

NOTE: THIS JOINT IS NOW  UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP

Chef Amanda Freitag’s upscale diner (which I like to refer to as a “finer”) really delivers some solid menu items. My wife and I popped in for lunch when it was crowded and took a comfortable seat at the large, old fashioned art-deco inspired bar area.

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We started with some cocktails. I had a jalapeño bloody Mary, and my wife had a riff on the Pimm’s Cup cocktail. Both were masterfully mixed. Look at the size of the basil floating in my wife’s drink! It was a mutant leaf.

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Our meal came out a bit backwards, as the pop tarts arrived first, and we sort of assumed they were more of a dessert item. I guess they are there for the brunch menu. They were filled with apricot jam and had a nice, light texture to the strudel-style dough pocket. Very nice, and actually kind of filling for only $6 a pair.

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I had the burger. This is a top contender. It comes garnished with red onion, cheddar cheese, pickles and a Big Mac style special sauce. Really tasty, and the gooey cheese is enough to solve any problems in the event your patty comes out cooked too much. At first, I thought mine was a little beyond medium, but it was fine once I got into the center a bit more. The bun is brioche style, but it isn’t flaky or weak. I prefer a potato bun, but this was fine.

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empire diner burger cut

This is a great buy at $13, because you get the salt and pepper fries in a pretty good portion size on the side as well. And let me just say: these fries were fucking amazing.

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My wife ordered the fish and chips. The portion size was pretty large, although her plate came with less fries than my burger plate. The fish was a large single piece that was enveloped in a really nice batter. My wife referred to it as “fish Wellington.” The fish itself was a cod; nice and flaky, and perfectly cooked.

empire diner fish chips

The Smith

I’ve been meaning to try the burger at this joint for a while, and, now that the Lincoln Center location is right in my neighborhood, it was a perfect opportunity.

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The menu I found online is pretty nice, and I was surprised to see a full selection of all four major steak cuts. We went on a Wednesday, which is fried chicken night, but we were unfortunately provided with a limited menu when we were seated due to some gas outage problems in the area. Bummer.

Luckily some of the basics that we wanted to try were still available though, like the burger and the rib eye.

First, I will note that the sparkling water was free here. I’m not sure if that’s always the case at all locations, but I was in heaven. I love bubbly water.

For alcohol drinks, I had a local pilsner from a Long Island brewery out of Oceanside called Barrier. I love their Mr. Pete wheat beer (amazing with oysters), but that wasn’t on tap. My wife had the Johnny Be Cool, which was a refreshing bourbon, lavender and honey concoction.

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The food took a long time to come out, as the place was packed for a Wednesday evening. That might have had something to do with the gorgeous weather outside (the joint has a massive 20ft wide sidewalk seating area). But at least we were able to snack on some of their nice bread while waiting. I just wished it was warm.

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Here’s the burger plate, which comes with thick-cut, house made potato chips (they were crispy and well seasoned, though a few were a little over-burnt for my liking).

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The burger itself was a nice thickness, toward the upper end of my acceptable stack-height range. It was a good stack with all the essentials like lettuce, tomato, onion and special sauce to keep the meat juices from soaking the bun. The cheddar was fine, despite my preference for American, and the bacon was good and crisp. The bun was a little too crisp for my liking though. It held up fine throughout the eating process, but it did irk me a bit. Switch to a potato bun, and this burger is a serious contender.

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My wife had the rib eye, with me eating a generous portion of it.

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Pretty good size, but the meat was not the greatest quality. It had a bit of gristle and a poor showing for a fat cap, but I enjoyed the eye meat. Especially with a little bit of the chimichurri sauce that came on the side. I wasn’t expecting Strip House level cooking technique, but the steak was definitely cooked unevenly. It was more like medium in most parts than medium rare, which was how my wife had ordered it. The picture below looks like a spot where it was actually at the right temperature:

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In the end, I think medium was probably the better cooking temp, because medium rare may have left us with some stringy bits given this particular chop.

The steak came with a baked potato, which my wife said was her favorite part of the meal. It was cooked nicely and had some tasty chives and sour cream in the crease.

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I’d definitely come back for a fried chicken dish or even another burger. The ambiance is great and the pub type menu items seem to be the way to go here. It seems like we may have had a rough visit because they were dealing with some gas problems. That’s a shame.

THE SMITH
1900 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

21 Club

“Try the steak tartare. It’s off the menu. Louis’ll make it for you.”
-Gordon Gekko, Wall Street

The 21 Club is a classy-ass NYC institution. Men need to wear jackets, and the sharp dress code policy is definitely enforced, because my wife overheard the maitre d’ scolding some broad for wearing jeans at the bar.

The ceiling is lined with miniature airplanes, sports equipment, trucks and all sorts of shit that, apparently, wealthy or famous diners left as a token of their affection for the restaurant. Some items are probably worth a pretty penny for memorabilia purposes.

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We came for restaurant week. My wife ordered off the restaurant week lunch menu ($25, three courses), and I tried their pricey burger ($36). I will say this: the place is all about the atmosphere. You go here to impress. The food, on the other hand, is just average.

Take a look at the bread basket though. THIS was impressive. The olive bread sticks were amazing.

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My burger was a little too highly stacked for my liking, and a little too thick. But the patty was delicious, and there was ample cheese on it. The house made pickles were a perfect half sour, and the grilled red onion didn’t leave me dying of thirst for hours afterward: they were mellowed. The tomato was sliced too thick.

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Was it worth $36? Absolutely not. It was good, but gimme a fucking break. I’d much rather spend half that at Shake Shack and be able to eat it without wondering if my suit jacket sleeves are dangling into the goddamn ketchup. The ketchup, by the way, was fucking great. It had a nice horseradish and spiced kick to it. Legit.

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Fries were average. I enjoyed them, but they are not on par with some of the other burger places serving up WAY better fries for under $5 per order. Essentially these were standard diner fries but with the proper crisp on them.

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My wife’s meal started with a very tangy and citrusy salmon and crab tartare, with a little bit of avocado at the bottom and some greens on top. I liked it, but I could see why my wife thought the lime/citrus was a little too aggressive. Tone that shit down a few notches and we’re good to go.

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Her main course was a roasted chicken. This was pretty good, though a bit small. The thickest portions lacked some of the flavor of the edges, and the skin wasn’t quite crisp enough for my liking.

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She finished off with a hazelnut and cookie ice cream sundae with caramel. This was pretty good. Nice and simple – difficult to fuck up.

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21 Club is a great place to do once in a blue moon for the right reasons: for the swanky atmosphere with company that likes to be in an impressive place. It’s a NYC institution, so we must respect that at least. But don’t expect to have the best meal of your life in here just because you may be in the company of billionaires.

21 CLUB
21 W. 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019