Saturday, December 17, 2011

Roadfood Cover Looks Eerily Familiar

A few months back friends and EBTs started sending me cell phone shots of the Stern's latest edition of their classic food tome 'Roadfood'. Turns out, their new cover bears a striking similarity to the cover of my new version of Hamburger America. Coincidence? Has to be. I helped to design our cover way back in 2010 before the book was even written. Even stranger is that the pub dates are identical.. I guess it's the cover to have, or there was some weird synchronicity going on.

The pic above was one that I took just the other day at a Midtown Manhattan Barnes & Noble. Seems like this strange similarity was not lost on the people stocking the shelves.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hamburger Holiday Gift Ideas 2011

Looking for a few last minute gifts for the burger nut on your gift list? I present to you my annual list of burger-centric goodies:

In-N-Out Post-It Pad

Need I say more? I have them all over my house and office. At the In-N-Out Store.

Smashburger Tee Shirt

Love the double entendre. In black and/or white at the Smash Gear Store.

2GB Hamburger Flash Drive

I know this was on the list last year, but come on, this is a great one! I wonder if they'll make a larger one with more patties - 2GB is almost too small these days. At Amazon.

Burger GPS App

How does one give a free app you may ask? Easy. Anytime you see someone who owns an iPhone or iPad ask to borrow it and download the app for them (or do it when they are not looking assuming you know their password). It's the (free) gift that keeps on giving, all year long. The link to the app is here.

Hamburger America, Revised and Updated!

The newest version of my book is available now and includes an additional 52 burger joints with updates on the burgers from the first edition. Published by Running Press, May 2011 and available at Amazon and (and just about any place where awesome books are sold).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chili Peppers Drummer Is One Smart Dude

A Double with onions at Hunter House

Chad Smith loves burgers, but not just any burgers. I've heard it before that his hometown favorite is Hunter House Hamburgers just north of Detroit, one of my faves and one of the 150 featured in my book. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving he was home visiting family and stopped in for a few. He posed for this picture (below) with one of my hamburger heroes, owner Susan Cobb (on the left). The Observer and Eccentric reported that he brought in family members for burgers, signed autographs, and even took a spin on the griddle. Chad hits those drums pretty hard, hope he took it easy smashing those burgers..

photo: The Eccentric

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No Buns at the Apple Pan!

That's right, Los Angeles EBT Dan just happened to walk into the Apple Pan today during the SEVEN MINUTES that the iconic burger stand was out of buns. Turns out, the baker was running late and a number of patrons were served their burgers on toast. Dan reported, "The crunch of the toast definitely fought the crunch of the iceberg lettuce but it's still an Apple Pan burger, still phenomenal!" Order was restored but Dan managed to snap this rare shot of his Steakburger on toast.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nice Piece in Washington Post Express

The Washington Post Express ran a good piece today on me and the new show I'm hosting, Made In America. The photo is from our visit to a Krispy Kreme store in North Carolina and yes, they made me tuck my shirt in, probably the first time in 2 decades..

The piece focuses on food, but in the show we visit 39 factories, everything from Silly Putty to jet engines.

To read the article, click here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hamburger America at National Archives

You read that right, the film Hamburger America will be screened at the National Archives in Washington DC. It's the same building that houses the Big 3 American Charters of Freedom (the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights for those that failed political science). Needless to say, I'm extremely honored and very much looking forward to the screening. I'll be there for a quick introduction to the film and a Q&A after, followed by a book signing. And then I'll be knighted (oh, wrong country).

If you happen to be in the area, the screening will take place in the William G. McGowan theater at the Archives next Wednesday, Sept 21st at noon and admission is free, open to the public. Click here for info. Sadly, no burgers will be served but I'm sure I'll be at the Five Guys a few blocks away after the screening...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tookie's Is Reopening!

Tookie's Hamburgers & More, the home of the Squealer, is reopening after years of being shuttered following 2008's Hurricane Ike. The iconic burger joint and Texas roadhouse south of Houston sustained substantial flood damage and owner Jim Spears struggled to reopen. Recently however, a guy named Barry Terrell bought Tookie's (which was pretty much gutted following the storm and damage from looters) and has brought back the original menu. Spears had woes beyond the damaged structure, like the future widening of the road where Tookies sits, being subject to new building codes and piles of insurance paperwork from the storm. Not sure how Terrell pulled it off but he did apparently.

Tookie's was in the first version of Hamburger America but I pulled them out of the completely revised edition since there was no word of its reopening at press time last December. Looks like any day now you'll be able to enjoy the one-and-only Squealer, the burger Tookie's made famous by grinding bacon into their patties. The process is so secretive that competing restaurants have sent busboys to apply for jobs at Tookie's in an attempt to steal the recipe. I've tried myself and failed. The only way to truly enjoy a Squealer is to get one at Tookie's.

I applaud Terrell for being crazy enough to reopen this iconic burger joint. Chalk up another win for nostalgia!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hamburger America at Urban Outfitters

Check this out! Urban Outfitters recently purchased a bunch of copies of the revised edition to sell in that cool little book section of their stores. I'm totally honored. Also, take a look at the selection of authors I'm sharing table space with (Jay-Z, Tina Fey, and Banksy).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Burger Roundup for Edible Queens

Edible Queens asked me to write about my 5 favorite go-to burgers in Queens and the piece is in their Summer issue, on streets now. The standouts, for the most part, were pretty easy to spot and not surprisingly 3 of the 5 had only been open for under a year. The list? Burger Garage, Donovan's Pub, Custom Burger, Astor Bake Shop, and Hollis Famous Burgers. Pick up a copy of the mag at these places in Queens.

Joe DiStefano published this companion piece yesterday, a pretty straightforward interview with me..

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grease Fire Closes Tune Inn in DC

I've just learned that the Tune Inn in Washington DC suffered a fire last Wednesday and closed. The Washington Post reported that the fire started in the kitchen and that the bar area in front, the part loaded with years of dusty taxidermy, survived. Third generation owner Lisa Nardelli told the paper that the bar could be open within a week to serve drinks but it sounds like their famous burgers won't be back for a while.

photo: Tim Carman/WASH POST

For years, the Tune Inn has made a basic, beautiful, uncomplicated bar burger served on a white squishy bun that I put in my book. But in the past few years, a burger that the chef created as a special that involved deep-frying became the subject of an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins. Its popularity surged, the burger became a permanent menu item, and it sounds like there was a lot of deep-frying going on back there...

I'm looking forward to the Tune Inn's return, especially since I'll be down there soon.

Friday, June 10, 2011

French Cheeseburger Chips

My good friend Seth brought this bag of chips all the way back from France just for me today. 'Max Craquantes' translates basically as 'super crispy' and they are. I opened the bag and it farted out a cloud of pickle/ketchup flavoring that almost turned me off. I soldiered on though and ate a few. They do taste like 'cheeseburger', just not necessarily one that I would eat. And they are loaded with M.S.G. so I think I'll avoid eating the rest of the bag. Those French are crazy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Smashburger is in NYC!

The Denver burger chain that has expanded throughout much of the country has made landfall in NYC, opening today at its first location in Brooklyn. Smashburger has won me over because of its use of fresh ingredients but the methodology behind the griddling of the patties is what really gets me going. True to their namesake, there's a lot of smashing going on.

Two days prior to opening, I was invited to check out the first NYC location on Dekalb Ave near Long Island University and Flatbush Ave. The owner surprised me by having Smashburger founder Tom Ryan on-hand for a meet and greet. Tom is a true fast-casual visionary and led us on a tour of the kitchen with a full demo of the smashing process. I'll avoid the details of my visit to avoid spilling any trade secrets, but let's just say these dudes have smashing down.

Tom talked me into ordering an item from their 'hidden menu', the Sin City Burger (pictured above). Created as a stunt and served first in Vegas, the Sin City is a decadent pile of crisped and sauteed onions, cheese, bacon and Smashsauce on a 1/3 pound patty, topped with a fried egg. "We imagined a burger that involved breakfast and dinner," Tom explained, "since you never know what time it is in Vegas." The Sin City is downright awesome and no longer on any written menu (as of Feb 2011), that is unless you know to ask for it (and apparently available 'secretly' at every location).

Soon, the new Brooklyn Smashburger will be serving beer too. It'll be a hard place for me to avoid..

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Burger Bites, Episode 4 - Irv's Burgers, LA

Thanks to everyone who came to the launch of the new Burger GPS app at the Apple Store last night. The afterparty at Idle Hands involved more burgers, thanks to Rev and upstairs restaurant Billy Hurricane's. The chef brought round after round of amazing mini burgers, each one better than the next. My favorite was the Hurricane Burger, which was topped with a Frank's Red Hot concoction. And Robin from The Land of Cake Believe (great name) brought her incredible bacon cheeseburger cupcakes to the afterparty.

Those who attended the Apple Store event watched the premiere of Burger Bites ep.4 about Sonia Hong and her West Hollywood burger joint Irv's Burgers. I showed the clip during the app demo to give the crowd an idea of what Hamburger America is all about. People like Sonia are what keep me going and remind us that classic mom 'n pops can survive if we care to save them.

Enjoy episode 4!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nice Interview on Eater

I'm happy with this piece on Eater. Paula Forbes totally got it right. Thanks Paula!

Friday, May 13, 2011

I Just Tested the New App!

I just took the new Hamburger America Burger GPS for a test drive and it was awesome! The guys behind the new app have been working their asses off to get it done in time for the big launch at the Apple Store, Meatpacking, next Friday. As they were testing, hilariously incorrect GPS coordinates popped up like the one on the left which placed the Upper East Side Shake Shack on the tip of Antarctica. Who knows? They are moving to Brooklyn soon. Anything is possible..

The new app is really amazing and I for one will use it often. Having an interactive burger map in my hand is a dream come true.

Monday, May 2, 2011

George's Shoulda Been In The Book...

I've been trying to get to a little-known burger joint in the Cochella Valley for years called George's Bar & Grill and man, they should have been in the book. George's meets all of the criteria to be included in Hamburger America so expect to see this place in HA3 one day (and in my new burger app, releasing May 20th!).

George is long gone but his son Ed has been large and in charge for many years. The sign out front proudly proclaims "World's Best Burgers and Insults" and he means it. Thank God Ed has an opinion on what makes a great burger (and yours is most definitely wrong). Ketchup graces the bar but it's there for the fries. Go ahead, just try to put some on your burger...

The patties are fresh ground, hand-pattied and cooked on a flattop behind the bar. A single works but the double, weighing in at around 1/2 lb, is better. Ask for grilled onion and there's a charge of $1.10 (go for it). The burger is served on a toasted white squishy and the result is heavenly, and a bit peppery. To round out your Whole Burger Experience take in the bar - authentic baseball memorabilia, comfortable leather stools and a tiny pool table complete the scene and an engraved plaque just below the television reads "Screw The Customers". Perfect. You know you want to be there.

Hours at George's are strange so check before you head out there. Even though it's a bar it's only open until 5:30pm weekdays and 3pm on Saturdays. Ed has better things to do so come down and get your drink on at lunchtime.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hamburger America 2 is Out!!

The completely revised Hamburger America, with 52 new joints, is out and shipping from Amazon as of yesterday. I'm assuming bookstores will follow soon. I'm very happy with the result and hope that you are too.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Burger Bites, Episode 3 - Miami Frita Crawl

Burger Beast, aka Sef Gonzalez is the authority on excellent Cuban food in Miami. He asked me to join him on a tour of some of his favorite frita counters and I couldn't refuse. It took me a while to get back to Miami but I'm sure glad I made time for lunch.

Click here to see the new Burger Bites, episode 3 where Burger Beast and I power through 3 amazing fritas at El Rey, Morro Castle, and the one and only El Mago. If it weren't for the traffic we may have been able to fit in 2 more..

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Burger Bites Coming Soon

I spent the afternoon with Burger Beast hitting a few great Frita joints in Miami last Friday and shot some footage of the journey. As we were approaching the first place, he offered to take me to an additional 4 or 5 places on top of the 3 we had agreed upon. Even I would have had a problem consuming 8 fritas for lunch. We stuck with El Rey De Las Fritas, Morro Castle, and El Mago. I probably could have fit in one more..

Stay tuned for the Miami Frita Crawl, Burger Bites episode 3, coming soon to this blog.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Custom Burgers for Flyers Only

This was, by far, the best burger I've ever had in an airport. I'm working on a story about burgers in Queens and the newish Custom Burgers in Terminal D at LaGuardia was on the list. The people behind Custom took over an old Burger King and have done great things. The beef is supplied by none other than Pat LaFrieda and it's pretty obvious. You can customize your burger with an array of toppings or do what I did and eat yours with cheese only (I took that salad off, above, before eating..). The 4.5 ounce burgers are cooked on a flattop and served on supple, toasted, buttered Martin's Potato Rolls. What could be better?

Oh, and this burger is not for everyone (literally). You'll need a ticket on a Delta flight to enjoy Custom because this place is on the other side of security. I managed to get authorization though, without having to buy a ticket to Indianapolis (it's good to know people).

Monday, February 7, 2011

New Josh Capon Joint is Pretty Awesome

This is a much-belated post. I think I visited way back in November.

After reports started coming back that the burgers at Josh Capon's newest burger outpost Burger & Barrel were amazing I made a point of getting there. Man was I glad I did. These burgers kick some ass.

Though they are relegated to the bottom of the menu, the burgers are the main attraction at this cozy new 'gastropub' (gag). I had the Bash Style burger, presumably the burger that won Josh top honors at the 2009 Burger Bash in NYC (though honestly, the burger at B&B was way better than the burger I ate at the Bash). The Bash Burger makes use of just a few key ingredients (and some of my favorites) - caramelized onions, bacon (bacon jam?), pickles and American cheese. It takes a big pair of nuts to use American cheese on an upscale burger in Manhattan and I love Josh for having the balls to do so. The beef used, of course, is a special Pat LaFrieda blend and it's cooked perfectly on a flattop and served on a super-soft fresh-made bun. A nice flourish is the stack of perfectly cooked jumbo onion rings balanced atop the burger bun.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fun Book Signing

Thanks to everyone who came out in the snow to Schnipper's for the last book event for the first edition. Hamburger America is now officially out-of-print with the new version coming out in May of this year. And thanks of course to the Schnipper Brothers for hosting the event and for creating great burgers. And of course congrats on making it to year 2. Only 18 more years and they'll be eligible for inclusion in Hamburger America. Keep it up! 2029 is just around the corner!

Pictured above, Andrew and Jonathan Schnipper, and me, looking like I need to lose a few.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Signing at Schnipper's

The Brothers Schnipper have invited me to their 2nd anniversary party next week at Schnipper's Quality Kitchen and I'll be there signing books. They plan to give out a pile of Hamburger Americas for free and are celebrating the anniversary with $2 burgers all day. I can't believe it has already been 2 years.

I'll be there at 2pm (do you sense a theme here?), Thursday, Jan. 27. And from 2-4pm they'll be serving my favorite burger at Schnipper's, the Hickory Bacon Blue, for (you guessed it) 2 bucks. Maybe I'll eat 2 of them.

This will probably be the last time the book is seen in print. The first edition of Hamburger America goes out of print in February in preparation for the big May launch of the revised edition. The original version is only days away from becoming a collector's item.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Burger Beast Has A Truck!

That's right, South Florida burger blogger Burger Beast has either stumbled into genius or lost his friggin mind (or both). Starting this week, a huge food truck with his logo on the side will begin to host guest burger spins on a rolling griddle around Miami. The King of the Calle Ocho Frita - El Mago himself will be the first. The truck sounds amazing and even yours truly may make a guest spin on the flattop during promotion for the new book (out May). A green chile cheeseburger in Miami? Could be possible for one-day only..

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Burger Joint Coming to Santa Fe

I have it on good authority that a star chef in Santa Fe is planning to open a burger joint in this shuttered gas station (below) very soon. I know the chef, and his success at his local restaurant coupled with his Wisconsin upbringing will undoubtedly result in an excellent burger joint. Stay tuned..