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Tim Dolan

Philadelphia's Best Burger

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Linky-poo to the article.

Not too many shocks there, I guess. Good Dog's burgers reign supreme? I can buy that.

The honorable mention list was interesting, too. I was glad to see Grace Tavern: that's an awfully good burger. And Tangier? Who knew?

Some places come in for unexpected ripping ("low-grade pastrami" at Snackbar? Ouch.) And I think he under-rates Five Guys: they're competing not with Good Dog, but with Wendy's.

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Some places come in for unexpected ripping ("low-grade pastrami" at Snackbar?  Ouch.)  And I think he under-rates Five Guys: they're competing not with Good Dog, but with Wendy's.

Have you ever eaten an In-n-Out Burger, Andrew?

I think he judged Five Guys appropriately. Their competition does not exist in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, as they are head and shoulders above the other chains; he did not judge them against the deluxe burgers, but against the gold standard in their category, which is In-n-Out, which is indeed what Five Guys aspires to. They seek not to compete with Wendy's, but to leave Wendy's in the dust.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I'd say the Center City location quite literally competes with Wendy's: it's like four doors down...

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Pity the poor Wendy's customers, then, for they know not what they are missing.

I stand by my prior assessment. Wendy's is no competition for Five Guys, even if the two are right next door: Five Guys is clearly superior. Five Guys still has some work to do before it reaches the pinnacle that is In-n-Out, though.

Edited to add: In case it matters, I've had the Good Dog and Rouge burgers, too. And I will concede that of the big national chains, Wendy's is the best of the bunch.


Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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The honorable mention list was interesting, too.  I was glad to see Grace Tavern: that's an awfully good burger.  And Tangier?  Who knew?

having spent, oh, probably slightly over 3000 evenings at tangier over a long span of time starting in 1993 and going till relatively recently, i can say a couple of things about the cook, quang (kwang? quong? i've never asked him to spell it)'s food:

1. their burger is solid. esp when he has the onion rolls they used to serve it on.

2. their wings kick ass. get them well done if you want them a little crisper. if you hang out and get to know him a little bit, he'll cook up special half orders of only drumsticks or forearms for you.

3. the chicken sandwich is usually OK too.


Edited by mrbigjas (log)

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Happened to be @ 17th/Chestnut around 11:30, so I thought might as well give Snow White, just up the street, a shot. I've been jonesing for a regular burger, not the over-the-top fancy-pants variety. The place was pretty full, but I got me a seat at the counter, as most of those standing were waiting for takeout. There was not a wit of order behind the (15-top?) counter. I sat for about 10 minutes, and no one acknowledged my presence. There was a lot of wasted running back and forth, with the "FOH" asking waiting customers two or three times about the desired burger toppings, etc. The only cool head was the cook, but he didn't seem to be busting 'em out either. The burgers looked, IMO, pretty ordinary. And not worth the wait, so I split. Tried 5 Guys for the first time and was impressed. A well-run lunch operation, I had my order in and burger received in less than 5 minutes, despite the jam. I ordered the "regular" burger w/cheese (as opposed to the "small" burger). Came to $5.16 with tax. I mention the price because Laban makes a big deal of the fact that the SW burger is under $5. The 5G burger at $5 is a double burger; the "small" runs at under $4. Despite the cooks leaning on the patties, the burger was quite good. No smooshing of the bun (also quite good) either. Toppings were a bit skimpy, but they appeared to be even skimpier at SW.

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I stand by my prior assessment. Wendy's is no competition for Five Guys, even if the two are right next door: Five Guys is clearly superior.  Five Guys still has some work to do before it reaches the pinnacle that is In-n-Out, though.

We've only been to Five Guys once, the Center City one. It was an awesome fast-food burger. At least as good as any In-N-Out burger I've had. And of course the fries were far superior, though that's not difficult, as In-N-Out's, even when ordered well-done, still kind of suck. We didn't get them Cajun style, will try that next time.

As far as LaBan's complaints, our burgers were dripping with juice, and we experienced no burger implosion or crumbling do to over-zealous squishing...

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See. This is exactly why I love you guys so much. Just the slightest bit of prodding from an Inky article and you all are out there, taking one for the team and clogging up your arteries so you can report back to the rest of us.

Much respect. :wub::wub::wub:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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It was like driving a stake through my heart every time the burger griller at Five Guys used his spatula to presss all the juice out of my burgers - I counted a half dozen times per burger. He gets bored I guess, needs to pass his time away doing something.

A lot of places like Nifty Fifties squeeze the life out of their burgers for insurance liability purposes and/or to obey some inane law about cooking ground beef to medium. I can still buy a pack of cigarettes or imported grapes soaked in DDT, but I can't legally order a rare burger?

Back in the late 60's I went to my first Steak and Shake - somewhere in the midwest. Their approach was to use an ice cream scoop to drop a row of burger balls on the grill. Then the grill guy used his spatula to flatten them to the proper thickness. Then he left them alone, except to flip the patties.

One thing struck me as sad about Laban's list - in an area as large as the Delaware Valley there is only one Charlie's like place. Tis a crime.

Missing from the list - Dilly's, outside of New Hope and the Charcoal Pit in Wilmington.

Seems to be the time of year for newspapers to write about burgers. Mark Bittman in Wednesday's NY Times food section wrote about home-cooked burgers. He demands that one grinds one's own beef. Not likely - for me at least - despite his valid concerns about packaged supermarket ground beef.

Are there any butchers left in the city who will grind beef to order? I've never asked at Harry Ochs or Martins.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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ochs will, i've asked them to grind it for me there before.

actually i suspect any of the butchers in the terminal would.

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I stand by my prior assessment. Wendy's is no competition for Five Guys, even if the two are right next door: Five Guys is clearly superior.  Five Guys still has some work to do before it reaches the pinnacle that is In-n-Out, though.

We've only been to Five Guys once, the Center City one. It was an awesome fast-food burger. At least as good as any In-N-Out burger I've had. And of course the fries were far superior, though that's not difficult, as In-N-Out's, even when ordered well-done, still kind of suck. We didn't get them Cajun style, will try that next time.

I am going to have to agree with dagordon here. I have never understood the myth of in-n-out burger. They are good and better than any big fast food chain, but I certainly put them in the same league as five guys which is also above any chain. I have only been to five guys 3 times (cherry hill and audabon) and had good burgers and excellent fries (gotta love a place that offers malt vinager). I find the small with fried onions/mushrooms and A1 to be about ideal.

In any case I have a friend who owns several five guys (none local or ever visited by me) so I will ask him if the smashing is part of the training or misguided impromteu work by the grill man.

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I dunno... I guess it's just a preference thing. I've been to the CC Five Guys twice now, and although the burgers are better than most, I still think they (over)cook the things to death. They're good, but not as good as they could be, IMHO.

I've only been to In-n-Out once (so far), but I f'n loved it. Personally, I take them over Five Guys any day of the week.

__Jason

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Funny I should come across this thread now. I just had my first DillyCheeseburger at Dilly's Corner since I moved from Bucks County to Ocean City 2 years ago. I don't know what they do, but I think they are one of the best burgers I've had. Does anyone remember the "Mighty Mo" at the Hot Shoppes?

That was another of my fav's.


Chris

Cookbooks are full of stirring passages

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Now that 5 Guys is in Center City I would assume it should open in Lower Bucks County soon. I am waiting to try their burgers.

Dilly's burgers are very good. The country environment adds flavor to the burgers.


"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf

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Funny... I've ridden past Dilly's on the motorcycle more times than I can count, but I've never actually stopped there. Perhaps I should...

__Jason

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Talk about milking it for all it's worth:

LaBan's column in tomorrow's "Image" section is about the making of the song and the music video. His Top 6 Burgers are recapped in a sidebar.

Edited to add: Make that "he has a feature in addition to his column." His regular review is of Miran on Chestnut Street (two bells).


Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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We've only been to Five Guys once, the Center City one. It was an awesome fast-food burger. At least as good as any In-N-Out burger I've had. And of course the fries were far superior, though that's not difficult, as In-N-Out's, even when ordered well-done, still kind of suck. We didn't get them Cajun style, will try that next time.

...

David, if you do get the cajun fries, I recommend you ask them to season it lightly, otherwise they tend to overdo it, making the fries too salty.

And if you prefer more seasoning, you can always add some more :wink:

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LaBan's column in tomorrow's "Image" section is about the making of the song and the music video.

Please make it stop. That video was really embarrassing, in my opinon. And what happened to his precious protection of his anonymity? Backlit or not, it gives a pretty good idea of what he looks like.

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Upthread I said I have friends associated with five guys stores, so I asked the operations manager about the pressing the burger issue and here is what he said:

"As far as burgers, we found a company that could manufacture a basic metal “press” with “feet” on it. Essentially, it’s a piece of cut and welded stainless steel that we use to press the burgers. The “feet” keep a grill cook from pressing it past a certain point, no matter how hard they press. What used to happen was the grill cook would use a regular spatula, and smash the patty, sometimes leading to a less juicy burger. If they use the burger press, it eliminates this problem.

Thanks for asking the question. We do get it from time to time, and I don’t want somebody thinking we’re killing our burgers.

Oh, and thanks for eating the burgers!"

I subsequently asked if this device was used at their stores only or if it is a systemwide standard and he said that all stores should be using it.

Again his stores are not in this area.

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has anyone had the burger at brasserie perrier lately? i used to love it but haven't been back in probably a year. i recommended it to a coworker of mine who went and said it was terrible--greasy, mushy, not flavorful... that would be too bad if it's gone downhill; it was one of the better big fancy burgers in town.

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AHHHH Charlies'- As a 1980 graduate of Ridley HS ,many after school days were spent there as well as after swim meet lunches( Ridley Park swim club was adjacent) I now live in Lewes Delaware and am happy to report we now have a Five Guys which comes about as close to the memory of Charlies as anything in this neck of the woods


"Food is our common ground,a universal experience"

James Beard

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Tried Charlie's on Saturday. Had two: the Bunny (cheese, raw onions, mustard) and the Special (cheese, sauteed onions, mustard). I found them to be a poor excuse for a burger. The extremely thin patty was overwhelmed by the standard-size bun, resulting in the experience of eating burger-flavored bread. If the goal is a slider, the burger's gotta be smaller in diameter (and thus thicker) with a bun to match. They were also doing the dreaded "lean" on the burger, though it didn't appear to affect the juiciness/greasiness.

Maybe the proper order is a double (at about $3.20/each), but I wasn't in the mood to try. I believe that if you place a single on the menu, it oughta have some heft. Penny wise, pound foolish, since I won't be back anyway.

Milkshake came w/in 30 seconds of ordering; dunno where they're holding 'em.

Also had a dog at the Last Stand. Same issue: skinny dog (grilled) on a too-large roll.

Maybe Delco is carb happy....

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Had a surprisingly good burger at Kildare's on Main St. last night. I wasn't going in with any expectations, I was just insanely hungry, but this burger was damn good. Cooked perfectly medium rare, nice and juicy, served on an onion roll. It came with those wide steak fries, which I'm not a fan of. It was nothing ground breaking, but it's nice to know another good place for a burger close to where I live.


I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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A couple weeks ago, I tried the Rouge burger and it was terrific. My friends split the burger (they conveniently split the plates), and both our burgers arrived cooked as ordered (med-rare and medium). Portionwise, the burger is hefty- sometimes it can be a bit unwieldy and tall, especially after adding the lettuce and tomato.

Last weekend I went to Yello'bar (24th & Grays Ferry) for the first time. It's a little weird to be walking along Gray's Ferry and on one side isthe tall iron fence with giant trees and lush green lawn carpet in front of the condo development and the other side is all broken glass and alternating new renovations and run down properties. Mmm gentrification. I tried the burger sampler and was pleasantly surprised: 4 little mini burgers (20z patties) with 3 different cheeses, one with sharp mustard and no cheese, one with caramelized onions. The little toothy rolls that were lightly grilled/toasted cut side down, adding a nice crunchiness. The patties were very slightly overdone, but still, yum. Someone should go try the regular sized burger.

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