rating hamburgers

I have been eating hamburgers since I was old enough to make my own choices from the menu at a restaurant. I suppose that’s true of many males my age. So when writer Lucas Kwan Peterson ranked twenty-three hamburger brands in a two-page spread in the Weekend section of last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, I felt qualified to respond.

I question Peterson’s taste in hamburgers.

Peterson ranked Burger King #23, dead last. Are you kidding me? Lower than Wienerschnitzel? (#21) Lower than Del Taco? (#18) Lower than White Castle? (#17) Burger King is not my favorite burger, but if location and circumstance facilitate, I can certainly enjoy a Whopper with cheese. (I’ve always wondered why the default Whopper comes without cheese.)

hamburger and friesAs for Del Taco, I admit to not having had their burger, but I don’t trust a fast food taco chain that also sells fries and burgers. If I’m going to Wienerschnitzel, I’m not going to get a burger. I doubt they put much effort into their hamburgers, and Peterson says as much.

I’m not sure where Peterson went for White Castle. There aren’t any in Southern California, so he would have to have made a trip to Nevada unless he had visited the East Coast. Of course, you could buy a box of White Castle sliders in the freezer section at the grocery store, heat a couple up in the microwave, and then ask yourself why you did it. I’ve done that.

Peterson ranked Jack in the Box at #15, which is about right in my estimation. They went through a phase of emphasizing their snack food in their TV ads recently, and I believe that their Sourdough Jack, which I used to really enjoy (and which Peterson lists as his recommended burger for Jack in the Box), has gone downhill of late.

The chain Habit Burger Peterson ranks at #13. Terry and I got takeout there shortly after they opened here in Hemet. We received two identical burgers, neither one of which was what we ordered. Terry couldn’t eat hers because it had onions, to which she is allergic. I ate mine, but I wasn’t terribly impressed.

Five Guys comes in at #8 which makes sense. When we lived in Gilroy there was a Five Guys one town up the road from us and Terry and I went there once. We enjoyed it, but not enough to go back. Plus, from Terry’s perspective the Five Guys burger was way more Weight Watchers points than In-n-Out because of the higher fat content in their burgers.

Speaking of In-n-Out, Peterson ranks it at #5. He lists Carl’s Jr. as #2. To list In-n-Out lower than Carl’s is just not acceptable in my mind. Carl’s has quality burgers, no question, and I enjoy them, but I went to college in Los Angeles County in the seventies and In-n-Out has a special place in my palate. And to rank In-n-Out lower than McDonald’s (#4) is simply insane.

Peterson’s #1 hamburger? Fatburger. I know they have a good reputation, but I haven’t eaten there so I can’t comment.

Peterson makes one glaring omission. While he includes establishments where burgers are secondary to their mission, he fails to mention one prominent restaurant chain: Red Robin, where hamburgers are front and center. Terry and I both love their burgers. The wait staff there is competent and attentive. If you still have COVID concerns (as we both do) they offer both curbside pickup and home delivery. Red Robin is a bit on the expensive side, but their burgers are well worth the price.

Peterson got some things right in his rankings, but I believe he was way off target in others. As a hamburger connoisseur since I was five years old I feel entitled to make up my own mind.

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