Ever since Heavenly Hamburger (Santa Rosa) closed down in September I haven't had a decent burger... and I am really craving a good one. No scratch that, I am craving a great one.
While I've had some memorable fancy burgers over the years - the Bleu Cheeseburger at Harris Ranch comes to mind - and yes the fancy burgers have their merit... I have yet to taste anything that challenges the hedgemony held by Los Angeles' Greek owned ghetto burger joints.
What are they? They are ubiquitous, high volume free standing mini chain restaurants with names like Dino's, Troy's & Astro's that are found only in the poorer neighborhoods like East L.A., South Central, Inglewood etc., Even though they are seperately owned chains & some individual places - they offer a consistently, excellent burgers made of low cost frozen beef patties.
The unifying thread? They are part of a vertically integrated Greek fast food industry that includes meat & gyro suppliers, pickled cucumber & greek chile suppliers, bakers etc., and of course the restaurant operators.
What is it about the burgers? Imagine the same spice & dry herb blending skills displayed in good Gyros... not that its the same blend - it isn't - but there is just something addicting about the seasoning (in the way that Doritos can be addicting) & in their thousand island dressings + the smoke from the beef grime accumulating on the grills that surpasses all bland attempts by even America's most reknown chefs.
Now with that said... is there any chance we have the same thing in the bay area?