As you can tell from my alias, I believe it's time to revisit the burger situation in Santa Cruz.
Ok, so it’s tough to say which is the best burger. Sometimes you can be in the mood for different things.
Here are some of my picks:
Downtown Santa Cruz
Hula’s – The Cajun burger is surprisingly good, but make sure you get the grilled mushrooms with it.
Hindquarter – The burger standard in Santa Cruz.
Jack’s Burgers – Great value and flavor for a burger stand.
Chubby’s Diner – They have a good home made burger, although it is served on a roll instead of a bun.
Gayle’s Bakery – Burgers are not on the lunch or dinner menu every day. If you time it right though, you’ll find they have excellent bacon cheeseburgers.
Chili’s – If you like a BBQ burger, this is a good spot. They also have smoked Applewood bacon burgers. Can you tell I like bacon?
Bittersweet Bistro – Their sliders are very good and Thursday nights they’re half price.
Wooden Nickel – They produce some really great hamburgers, also served on rolls.
If you want to venture out of Santa Cruz, try these:
Toastie’s – The teriyaki burger is a house favorite. Again, another burger served on a roll. I prefer buns, pun intended.
Main St. Burgers – With a classic atmosphere and menu, they hit the mark.
Ono Café – They have a gourmet and fairly expensive Wagyu beef burger with Brie.
I wouldn’t say the Bay Area or Central Coast are ground zero for burger fans. There’s a bit of catching up to do, but there’s hope. I started my burger career at Bob’s Big Boy when I was three. Bob’s is the home of the original double decker burger. It was bigger than me. The Big Mac was inspired by the Big Boy. And for you burger historians, here’s a bit of insight:
The original hamburger claimed to be invented by Wisconsin native Charlie Nagreen in 1885 had a meat patty placed in between two slices of bread. There was also the Menches brothers who called it a hamburger during the Erie County Fair, also in 1885 and served between two slices of bread. Today, we call this a patty melt. The first known hamburger on a bun was invented by Oscar Weber Bilby during a July 4, 1891 BBQ in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is where the hamburger as we know it today was born. These were hickory wood grilled Angus burgers on home made, secret recipe yeast buns and popular with hundreds of people. Lionel Sternberger invented the cheeseburger in 1924 at his father’s sandwich shop in Pasadena, California.
A burger without a bun is a Salisbury or Hamburg Steak, made popular by German immgrants to the US during the 18th and 19th centuries. Salisbury Steak made a big comeback when the TV dinner was invented in the 20th century. It's also making a minor comeback (like spam) in the recession-plagued 21st century.
Genghis Khan would use scrapings of lamb or mutton which were formed into flat patties and consumed raw. The Russians adopted it into their own cuisine with the name "Steak Tartare," (Tartars being their name for the Mongols).
Even ancient Egyptians ate ground meat. I know, I know, “What didn’t the ancient Egyptians do?”