Continuing on the ever expanding quest for burger nirvana in Buenos Aires…
I’m not sure why, but I somehow or other pictured DelToro Burgers, Bernardo de Irigoyen 366 in Monserrat, as some sort of huge, bustling, family oriented spot. No idea where that image came from. Instead, it turns out that it’s a very slick, cool operation, along an obviously very heavily trafficked street. They offer up a half dozen “gourmet” burgers from beef to pork to lamb, with great sounding toppings. The burger is plump and juicy, cooked slightly past my requested medium rare to a full on medium, but it’s seasoned well, and simply delicious. Minor negative for the egg, which was hard-cooked….
Here’s the thing. No one ever looked at a hamburger and said, “hey, what this thing needs is the taste of a fried egg on it.” No, they looked at it and said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if it had that gooey, unctuousness of a just barely set egg yolk muddled through the burger and dripping down my chin?” In fact, I assert that the really smart burger stand operator out there will eliminate the egg white altogether and just put a couple of barely set yolks atop.
The little “short fries” are perfectly cooked, though the lack of utensils made them mildly difficult to eat, especially once topped with squirts of ketchup and mayo. DelToro also offers Grunge Brewing Co. beers on tap, one of my local favorites (albeit the day I tried the burger, the tap wasn’t working – I was actually getting ready to leave when they got it fixed and they sent me over a free pint as an apology). Definitely a place to go back to. [Four napkins]
I’m not sure if maybe I should chalk this one up to being a brand spanking new spot that may just not have its rhythms down yet, but I think not. Burger Club, Fitz Roy 1747 in Palermo, opened up recently – their facebook page goes back to mid-June, with a few posts in July and August. The page hints that they’re “the first branch of Burger Club to open in Argentina” – it’s not clear from the wording whether they mean that they plan to open more, or that they’re a branch of one of the existing chains of Burger Clubs (there are a surprising number of them, you’d think people could be more original) overseas. Promising… Cruzat beer on tap (one), except, the tap was broken and not expected to be fixed anytime soon, and the only other beers on offer were small bottles of Quilmes. Water, thanks. The burgers take forever – they have three on offer – the New York, the Mexican, and the Roquefort. We ordered one each of the first two. First, what I liked – the thin fries were superb – perfectly cooked, tasty. The bun was excellent albeit slightly charred on top and bottom, but it had some heft to it, held together – it tasted a bit like a potato bread. The bacon verged on to being crisp and had some decent flavor. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives ended. After around 15 minutes of waiting, two thin, meager burgers came out – overcooked and dry, unseasoned, and the bottom of, at least my NY burger, so charred it crunched to bite into it. The pickles were insipid, the cheddar cheese was some sort of waxy abomination that barely melted, instead congealing into lumps. And why a “New York burger” would be slathered in barbecue sauce, only the most minor of demons in hell would know (put barbecue sauce on a burger at anywhere in NYC other than a tourist trap and you’d be run out of town) – thankfully, I asked them to leave it off mine. The Mexican burger had no spice, a bare whisper of something that could charitably be called avocado puree, but certainly not guacamole. They’re served in a tin foil tray, creating a massive amount of waste. We picked at them. We ate our fries. We left. Combos are $85 with beer or $75 with soft drinks. [Two napkins]
So let’s just get this out of the way with. I wasn’t a fan of Breaking Bad. I tried. I watched the first half dozen episodes and honestly couldn’t think of any reason I’d want to watch another one. There have been a few wildly popular shows out there that I’ve felt the same about. Such is life. Apparently, in homage to the lead character, a bunch o’folk out there in the world have created various burgers under the moniker Heisenburger, as well as there being a few different places to dine adopting the name. Of the former, the one that seemed the most apt was the “a concoction of peanut butter, patty and blue-meth bacon”, though the one topped with blue corn tortilla chips and green chili sauce didn’t sound half bad. Of the latter, they’re scattered around the world, and, relatively recently, one opened here, Heisenburger burger lab at Baez 252 in Las Cañitas [Update: Second location opened at Gorriti 5054 in Palermo, in the space that used to be Te Mataré Ramirez]. I’d heard mixed reviews – and pretty evenly split. I have no mixed feelings about it – I simply didn’t like anything about it. A burger so overcooked it was a workout to chew, seasoned with so much salt I could have left it out to attract deer. A hard cooked puck of an egg that reminded me of nothing so much as one you might find on an egg mcmuffin. A couple of spindly threads of red onion, some overly sweet ketchup with I believe it was supposed to be curry in it, but it hadn’t been mixed through well, so there were just pockets of powder. Due to a kitchen error, when I ordered onion rings, they also sent fries, so I got to try both. The fries aren’t bad, crisp on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. The onions rings were so near to burnt that I could audibly crack them in half using two hands – but I could barely bite into them – not that I wanted to given the degree of burn – and gave up. ‘Nuff said. [One napkin]
Awhile back, the original branch of Pani made my list for it’s amazing smoked, pulled pork sandwich, and a fantastic red cabbage coleslaw, a sandwich that, unfortunately, they removed from their menu. Last year, a new branch opened up here in Recoleta, in the Village Recoleta Mall – we’ve popped in once or twice – they do a slightly weird take on a club sandwich, with the ingredients nestled between sweet waffles (as a note, I’ve tried it a second time and gotten them to put it on whole grain bread – far better). I decided that, despite the 159 peso price tag, I’d give a try to their burger. Okay, it’s “kobe beef”. Not. It may, possibly, be Wagyu beef, which is the breed of cow, though I somehow doubt that Wagyu cattle here are treated to all the fancy stuff like beer massages and such that one hears about in Japan; but, “Kobe” is a registered trademark name that is limited to the Wagyu cattle raised in, no surprise, Kobe, Japan. It’s actually a pretty decent burger – a good size, lightly but nicely seasoned, overcooked (I asked for rare to medium rare, it came out nearly well done) topped with plenty of fresh lettuce and tomato. It didn’t have any of the promised fried red onion on it, the barbecue sauce (which I forgot to ask them to leave off) was actually quite good – likely it’s that same “killer” sauce that was on the pulled pork sandwich that I liked so much, and the “cheddar cheese” was gloppy cheddar cheese spread, a la Cheese Whiz. That delicious, best in the city coleslaw has been replaced by a mostly green cabbage slaw that has pretty close to a 50:50 ratio with mayonnaise, making it relatively unpalatable. It was basically just an okay burger experience – not what you want when you shell out over 200 pesos including something to drink and a tip. Bring back the pulled pork sandwich! [Three napkins]
I understand that at one point, awhile back, there was a Johnny B. Good diner on Av. Juan B. Justo (which is pretty much the Spanish way of saying the same name), that never quite took off – no surprise, it’s a weird street to put a restaurant on, even a fast food one. Whether or not the relatively new JBG, at Alicia Moreau de Justo 740 in Puerto Madero is the same group, I’m not sure. They’ve got franchises in various parts of Argentina, and one in Asunción, Paraguay. It’s a pseudo-American diner, I’d put it at a level somewhere above TGIF and below Hard Rock in terms of quality. I was there to add its burger to the every expanding list. They offer two – I went with the “Smokey BBQ”. Ordered rare, it arrived medium to medium well. Decently seasoned, good sized (they say 210 gms, so roughly a half-pound). The bun is like tissue paper, the base was already dissolving into pulp by the time it got to the table. Good bacon, albeit, just a couple of little squares of it, a single, gooey onion ring on it, the ubiquitous mock cheddar sandwich slice, fresh lettuce and tomato. The fries were mixed – some crispy and browned, some soft and barely golden – probably they’d fried up two separate batches that got mixed together. Decent coleslaw. A basket of bread served with mayo, and a package of salted peanuts came to the table first – kind of unnecessary when you’re ordering a sandwich or burger, but I guess it’s their way of justifying the appearance of a 29 peso cubierto charge that showed up on the bill (I imagine it’s noted somewhere in the extensive menu pages, as is required, but given that it made for a 15% upcharge on what I expected, it wasn’t a happy surprise). The beer selection amounts to the various types of Quilmes on tap, plus Patagonia and Stella Artois in the bottle, except they didn’t have any of the bottled beers available on a Sunday afternoon. “Ran out” was the claim. Overall, it was okay, but pricey – with the cubierto charge coming in at 250 pesos – more than the kobe beef burger and beer at Pani, above, a far better burger, did. Meh. [Two napkins]
Not to be confused with the burger at Home Hotel, this is a new spot in Palermo, Home Burguer Bar, at Bonpland 1580. It’s primarily takeout and delivery, though there are two picnic tables out front to share, and a couple of barstools at a miniscule counter inside. Let’s make it simple – this is one of the better burgers I’ve had in Buenos Aires, period. Thick, juicy, cooked to a perfect rare to medium rare, as requested, and without a blink when the request was made. Most of the dozen combos on offer are “stuffed” burgers, with what was probably a good lump of mozzarella inside the burger that melts into the meat, giving it a lovely richness. Plus, the meat is not only seasoned with salt and pepper, but has finely chopped herbs, bell pepper, onion and garlic worked into the meat – it’s simply delicious on its own. The combos are interesting, and there are additions that you can add to your own tastes. Everything fresh, tasty, beautifully prepared and seasoned. The onion rings taste a little bit “commercial” and I found myself wondering if they’re made in-house or bought frozen and fried up. The beer selection is a bit common – small bottles of Quilmes, Imperial, Heineken, and the one offbeat one, a Mexican beer, Sol – but nothing as special as the burgers. More condiments would be nice – there’s ketchup and mustard on the two tables, but that’s it – a little mayo, perhaps something spicy (the burger I picked, the #9 combo, had a mildly spicy chili sauce on it and I’d have loved to have more on the side, even if just to dip the onion rings in), and the bun needs to be sturdier – it turned to paste within minutes, and, like the place way above, I wish they didn’t use the tin trays for serving burgers – it’s such a waste of non-biodegradable material. [Five napkins]