My Top 5 Burgers In Jozi
I love hamburgers. There I said it. I love them. I love the way they taste, I love the way they look, I love the way they encompass all the major food groups and you can eat them with your hands. I’m to burgers what spinsters are to cats.
But just so you know where I’m coming from – I don’t like fancy burgers.
I don’t care for gourmet affairs of the ostrich and Gorgonzola variety. I loathe a tuna burger on a bed of coriander and plum sauce. And I’ll always refuse a supersized McKudu on a bed of wilted spinach.
Don’t get me wrong; I love all of these ingredients in other forms. Put them on a plate, alone or together and I’ll clean that porcelain before you can say “Would you like that with fries”. I just don’t want them in a burger.
All I want in my hamburger is a good, solid beefy patty; some barely melted cheddar (I do mozzarella at a push), a sprinkling of pickle, tomato, onion, lettuce and a bit of sauce. It is here that I get lenient: bring me mayo, mustard, tomato sauce, relish, monkey gland or the house special, I don’t mind – just not too much and make sure it’s delicious.
Now that you know where my burger tastes lie, here are my top five burgers in Johannesburg. Sadly, we have no Royale Eatery or Hudson’s: The Burger Joint up here, so I’m going to have to jealously leave them out while I inwardly curse the Capetonians who are mostly vegan and therefore a useless market for such perfect burger specimens.
Incidentally, the best burger I have EVEN eaten was a sublime sandwich from a tiny family-owned diner in New York called Big Nicks. I still dream about its meaty goodness.
But back to Jozi-town, here is my current top five (this list is very fluid) in reverse order:
Don’t judge me. You know you like them too. A solid King Steer combo is reasonably priced (relative to the rest of this list) but comes with a heavy guilt cost – you can’t eat one without at least a little self-flagellation afterwards. I don’t know why I crave these bad boys, but I’m sure it has something to do with the lump of MSG slammed into your roll.
Saucy, naughty, a guilty pleasure that’s totally bad for you and gives you a fat hangover – like a girl you pick up at The Colony Arms.
You’ll like this if you like Crème Sodas, coke floats and convenience.
4: Gourmet Garage:
Straddling that fine line between sit-down burger and straight up take-away, Gourmet Garage delivers a tasty cheeseburger that feels like it’s going to be bad for you. Sitting in your 50’s-style booth, with a strawberry milkshake and your best gal by your side, you feel like you could be eating at Pop’s with Archie and Jughead.
You’ll like this is you like Rocking Around The Clock, the drive-in and Cadillac’s.
Where? There’re two of them – one in the faux-Tuscan ‘paradise’ that is Monte Casino and the other in 24 Central on Fredman Drive, Sandton.
3: Salvation Café:
The most ‘gourmet’ offering on this list, that somehow melted its way through my tough burger defences. Guacamole, sweet milk cheese and bacon tie together a biggish but delicious burger that can be messy to eat with your hands. But do it anyway, it’ll offend the cultural elite that frequent the joint in their fancy tight jeans and asymmetrical haircuts. It’s easy to ignore them though when you’re focussing on that burger which is even better when washed down by an ice-cold Grolsch draft. Yum.
You’ll like this if you like Apple (the brand not the fruit), advertising and looking cool.
Where? 44 Stanley Ave, Milpark
Tel: (011) 482 7795
2: The Baron:
Fight your way through yuppies slamming Jager Bombs and enjoy a very-close-second-super-solid offering from the Baron. They just really know how to keep it simple, with A-grade minced meat, fresh sesame bun and the perfect balance of condiment and vegetable. Big enough to fill a hungry boy, small enough to eat with your hands AND you can dress it up all fancy if that’s what you’re into.
As the average patron would say: “Schweet boet.”
You’ll like this is you like “dopping boet”, “smashing it in your face” and “getting pasted with your boys”.
Where? There’re four of them. All of them are in the Northern Suburbs and all of them are “schweet”.
1: The Butcher Shop & Grill:
Yes, it’s a little pricey, but these guys know their meat. The Butcher Shop nails it every time, a perfectly sized, perfectly balanced, bloody delicious, meaty treat from the boytjies in Sandton Square. If it’s good enough for cabinet, it’s good enough for you. Only available at lunchtime, ask for the cheeseburger.
You’ll like this if you like winning tenders, brokering deals and being corrupt.
Where? Shop 30, Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton
Tel: (011) 784 8676
Now I know I’ve left out some of your favourites. Maybe I just haven’t been to your local Roadhouse or maybe I just didn’t enjoy it. I do enjoy a good Grillhouse, Wombles, Turn ‘n Tender and Local Grill burger, but they didn’t stand out enough for me to write about them.
I know that a heap of you will cry out “Where is Dukes?” the Greenside-based burger joint. To be honest, I don’t really like the patty, it’s all a bit try-hard and the burger is so big there is no way I can eat it with my hands.
As I said previously, I have certain boxes that need ticking and Dukes simply doesn’t tick them.
At the end of the day, this is my list, make your own if you want to.