The Search Begins For The Valley’s Best Burger! This Week: Burgers & Beer

Phil Mestomack
[This summer, our resident gastronome Phil Mestomack takes to highways and byways to find the best burger the valley has to offer.  What will Phil’s talented taste buds tell us this week?]

Burger, fries and a soda. or milkshake.  Nothing brings out the sense of pure Americana more than that classic combo.
The image of young women in rollerskates at the car-hop carrying trays of the meal while young couples enjoy themselves is as much a part of the burger & fries as the food itself.
Arnold’s (Happy Days), the Olympia Cafe (Saturday Night Live), and the Krusty Krab (Spongebob Squarepants) are some of the fictional places that are based on the humble hamburger.
A few years ago, the Weekly-Chronicle focused on the best burgers in Brawley.  Now, we search for the best burgers in the Valley.

The Rules:

This summer, the meal will be the bacon Cheeseburger, which normally consists of bacon, cheese, the burger and the condiments.
The restaurants will be judged on service and the flavor  and quality of the burger itself along with any extras, like fries.

Restaurant #1
The first restaurant on our survey is Burgers & Beer, located at 260 N. Imperial Avenue in El Centro.
Burgers & Beer have won a number of contests in recent years proclaiming themselves the “Best Burger in Town.”
The ambiance of the place is reminiscent of a large city sports bar more than a restaurant, with plenty of memorabilia adorning the walls and several large screen televisions broadcasting the latest games and events.
Service at Burgers & Beer can be very sporadic, given the  popularity of the restaurant and the tight spacing of tables and booths.  After drinks and our order, the food took almost 15 minutes to arrive.
The burger itself had two thin pieces of bacon on top of the requested cheddar cheese (which was extra) and the 1/3 lbs patty.    The bun was toasted with butter. and had pieces of red onion, lettuce and tomato on top.
Condiments came on a separate tray and included ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, onions, hot carrots, peppers, steak sauce and more.
The flavor of the burger was quite potent, with plenty of meat juices and salt complimenting the taste.  The toasted bun added an extra texture component and also helped keep the top of the bun (the crown) dry.
Fries (which were extra) were hot when delivered but cooled down considerably while at the table.
Service score:  C+-.  While popular restaurants do often have issues with service, waiting 15 minutes for the food to arrive while was problematic.
Burger score:  A.  It’s easy to see why so many people like the burgers at the restaurant.  The burger was quite juicy and the toasted bun added a nice texture to the dish.
Price:  $7.79 for a 1/3 pound bacon burger.  Cheese and fries are extra.

Restaurant #2
Next in our sights is Brownie’s Diner, located in Brawley at 990 Main Street.
Brownie’s Diner serves multiple types of cuisines, including Mexican and American favorites. A daily menu of specials are also available.
The restaurant’s decor is a combination of sports and movie memorabilia,with one wall dedicated to the “Golden Age of Hollywood” and the other focused on, mostly, American football.
After seating ourselves, drinks were ordered and promptly delivered and, once the meal was ordered, came hot to the table in short time.
The burger came pre-assembled, with mayo, mustard, lettuce, pickle, tomato and onion.  It was cut in half for convenience.
Unfortunately, the burger itself, while touted as “100% Angus Beef,” had little beef flavor.  Instead, the flavor of the yellow mustard was present throughout the dish.  The bacon was cooked well, but still fatty.
The burger came with a choice of french fries or potato salad.  Onion rings could be had for an additional 99¢.
Service Score:  B+.  The staff were always checking on us to make sure things were satisfactory and the speed in which the drinks and the food were delivered was pleasant to see.
Burger Score:  C.  The strong mustard flavor was a turn-off, although that can be avoided in the future by simply asking for the condiments to be separated from the burger.

[Where will Phil’s adventure through the best burgers in the Imperial Valley take us next week?  Find out in next week’s Weekly-Chronicle!]