Jack’s Most Memorable Burgers

I’ve been threatening to unpack my list of favorite burgers for some time. It’s almost impossible because there are so many good ones and so many with memories attached. The following list is not meant to be a Top Ten. It’s just a list of my favorites over time.

1. Uneeda Burger, Seattle – Scott Staples’ Fremont burger bar. The owner/chef of Zoe and Quinn’s in Seattle opened this in 2012. Picnic tables and to order burgers.


2. Café Rouge, Berkeley – On gentrified Fourth Street. Great bar. Dignified décor. Excellent burgers.

Cafe Rouge3. Grumpy’s, Ketchum – Warm Springs Road hangout where locals avoid the Sun Valley tourists, drink from pitchers and let the grease from their burgers run down their arms.

4. Hasty Tasty, Seattle – In the ‘50’s this was the all night cheap burger joint on north University Way for UW students pulling all nighters before exams. Greasy, not quite clean, Formica tables, and paper baskets for the burgers.

5. Chez Ginette Paris – Our neighborhood spot on Rue Caulincourt, across the street from our apartment in Montmartre.

Chez Ginette7. Hard Rock Café, London – This is the spot that opened on Piccadilly in the late 60’s. Pan Am layovers were at the Athenaeum Court Hotel just a block away. I used to stand in line to get in and sit at the bar to eat. Great burgers then, but the brand has been so corrupted I wouldn’t go near one today. Saigon’s was a rip-off.

Hard Rock8. Dick’s Drive-In, Seattle – This joint broke ground when M and I were in high school. This is the original on 45th Street. When they opened the big sign advertised “Dick’s 19¢ Hamburgers.” It was our late night rendezvous spot through high school. We still sometimes get a craving on the way home from a movie and stop off to eat in the car. The Deluxe is now $2.95. All Dick’s burgers are made with 100% real beef, delivered daily, and never frozen. Dick’s family, now third generation, is big in philanthropy and the employees, mostly students, get living wages, health insurance and scholarships. There are still some good guys in the world.

Dick's9. Harry’s Bar Venice – In 1970 Darryl Hart, Abby Grosvenor and I visited Venice. I wanted to go to Harry’s Bar because it was a Hemingway hangout. We sat at the bar next to a Time Magazine writer who was drunk, obnoxious, and excited to have an audience to regale with his coolness. In spite of him, we loved being riffraff at Harry’s, drinking Bellini’s, and eating juicy memorable burgers where Hemingway used to do the same.

Harry's Bar9. Black Cat, Saigon – The best burger in town and they do expedited motorbike delivery. I used to order the bleu cheese bacon burger with extra napkins – good and greasy.

10. Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore – I love telling this story; three years ago we flew Jetstar Asia from Saigon to Singapore for a little R&R. Jetstar is one of many low cost airlines flying around SE Asia. We couldn’t believe the price – $30 one way. When we got to the hotel we were starving and the smell the burgers drifted up from the poolside restaurant. We raced down and ordered two right off the grill. They tasted just as good as they smelled and at $30 they were exactly the same price as the flight we took to get there. Worth every penny.

11. Hamburger Hamlet, Los Angeles – The Hamlet in Brentwood is now closed but when it opened it raised the level of burger cuisine in La and set a new standard. Factoid: the Hamlet’s location on San Vicente Boulevard was across the street from Mickey Cohen’s ice cream parlor, the Carousel. Does anybody else remember LA’s favorite gangster?

12. Café Victor, Paris – When I told her I was going to include a Paris hamburger my friend Leslie Maksik told me I should include her favorite burger too. So here’s the place:

Victor Paris13. Ruth’s Chris, Bellevue – For Happy Hour in the Seattle area it’s hard to beat Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Bellevue. The beef is USDA Prime and cooked exactly as requested. The price ($7) is rock bottom. The service is friendly. The drinks are generous, and the fries are hot and lightly seasoned with a sea-salt, pepper mix that is just different enough to be memorable.

14. Duke’s Greenlake – Duke’s is our default restaurant. We probably eat there twice a month. The restaurant is famous for its award winning chowders and known for seafood but the burgers are equally good. Duke deserves a lot of credit. The back of the menu lists exactly where each item is sourced. The beef is 100% grass fed. The produce from local organic farmers. The seafood is fresh, not frozen, and he personally supervises the wild salmon catch in Alaska. None of it is farmed. Because the beef is grass-fed and organic it can be cooked to order. The Duke’s Cheeseburger is sensational. The Duke Jr. is a smaller version and the fries are thick, hand cut, and cooked to crunchy perfection.


That’s all folks… The subject has infinite possibilities for expansion but these have some significance for me beyond the taste and quality of the burger though I have high burger standards.

More tomorrow…

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