By Phil Mestomack

[We're past the half way point in Phil's sojourn through the best burgers in the Valley.  Where will the genius gastronome take us this week?]

Burgers are among the simplest of American foods, but have a multitude of variations.
One does not need a single patty.  You can have the “double” or “triple” burger if you so desire, with multiple patties sandwiched between bacon, cheese, or other extras.
Toppings can also vary according to region, tradition and personal taste.  Places rich in barbecue history often put brisket, pulled pork or other meats on top of burgers along with the local sauce.
Some Asian cultures have also adapted their own traditional flavors to the humble burger.  A prime example of this is the well-known “Teriyaki Burger,” which often includes a sweet-salty sauce and a slice of pineapple.
You can also have different types of cheese to go with your sandwich.  Recent restaurant trends have seen Gruyere cheese (known for its smooth melt) and blue cheese used in popular restaurants.
Unusual toppings for burgers also include mushrooms, jalapenos, fried eggs, pastrami, tartar sauce and more.
The meat in the burger doesn’t even need to be beef!  Current trends include ground chicken and ground turkey, for the health conscious among us.
There’s more to the humble burger than meets the eye, after all!

Restaurant #4
Hacienda Snack Bar.
The hidden but sought out Hacienda Burger Bar, located at 941 K Street in Brawley, provides several Mexican and American favorites in a comfortable atmosphere.  The walls are decorated with artifacts of the restaurant’s history with the local Wildcats sports teams.
The Burger:  Bacon Cheeseburger.  This was the only burger on the list that provided a double patty.  Onions, pickle, lettuce and tomato were placed on the burger and simple condiments were available on the side.  A meal special was purchased, which includes a drink and fries.
The sandwich had good beef flavor that was helped by extra salt and pepper.  The meal, which included hand-formed patties, took longer than normal to fully cook but arrived hot.  The bacon was softer than expected but had good flavor while the cheese was not overpowering.

Service grade:  N/A.  Hacienda Snack Bar could not be judged on service as it was mostly a self-serve situation.
Burger Grade:  B+. The strong beef flavor and double patty provided good value for the money.
Price:  $5.95 + extra for the meal special.
Hours:  Monday – Friday 7 am to 2 pm.

Restaurant #5
Aspen in the Desert Restaurant
Located at 595 West Main street in Brawley, near the Brawley Inn, Aspen in the Desert showcases an upper class level of dining that’s rare in the city.
Service:  While service had been an issue in previous surveys, service at this particular visit was top notch, with the lone waitress busily handling several tables on her own.  Drinks were requested upon seating and the food arrived hot.
The Burger:  The Widowmaker.  This Bacon Cheeseburger also includes avocado and onion rings.  It is also the only burger on the list that was served on ciabatta bread and not a regular burger bun.  Lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles were on the side of the burger along with mayo.  Squirt bottles of ketchup were also brought by the waitress.
The addition of avocado and onion rings, while nice, did distract from the Certified Angus beef burger.  The texture component added by the ciabatta bun was a nice change of pace from other burgers.  The bacon and cheddar cheese were quite powerful as well.

Service score:  B+.  No major complaints, this time.  Maybe more staff at certain hours would help out.
Burger Score:  B. The burger itself was almost lost in the avocado and other stuff, but the texture of the bread helped out plenty.

[See this space next week for the conclusion of the "Best Burger In The Valley" survey.  Find out who the overall winner is!]

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