Nationwide festivities celebrate an iconic sandwich
I’m a bit surprised that Walmart hasn’t yet filled the shelves with National Hamburger Day decorations and supplies. In spite of this oversight, The Big Day is waayyy closer than you might think, so I hope everyone is sewing their costumes, regaling kids with tales of Hamburger Days past, and building parade floats. Last year I was touched by the avalanche of greeting cards I received. The high point was party hats in the shape of brioche rolls, giving an entirely new meaning to “great buns.”
The Cape Region will yet again fry, grill, smoke, flip, top and slather its way into the forefront of this sacred season, and when the revelries are but an aromatic memory, local eateries will still lavish unique treatments atop the famous food with built-in handles.
Monday night at Summer House has been burger night for many years. Though I have a hard time getting past the Hickory Blue Cheese burger (with bacon, of course), this carnivore surprises even himself by occasionally indulging in the Monday-only Salmon Burger decorated simply with pickles and lemon-basil mayo. And fret not! New boss Regan Derrickson is keeping the hallowed tradition intact.
The LaFrieda Burger wisely remains on the Shorebreak Lodge menu. Custom, never-frozen patties are crafted by noted butcher and Bronx native Pat LaFrieda from a secret blend of brisket, chuck and short rib. They are then whisked overnight to restaurants throughout the land that proudly display LaFrieda’s name on their menus. Shorebreak tops its offering with pork belly, ‘shrooms and cheddar, perched proudly on a grilled ciabatta. This one will spoil you for other burgers.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to a few of our locally operated franchise spots that have distinguished themselves in the burger department, namely the Baconator at Wendy’s (how do they get the bacon so crispy?!); Burger King’s Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe (it’s the flame-broiling that does it); and Five Guys’ bacon cheeseburger (add pickles, jalapenos, and extra mustard to the never-frozen patty, please). Encase yourself in a Ziploc bag if you plan to consume any of these in your car.
A couple of local burgers also deserve mention. The first is the Apple/Bacon/Brie Burger at Zogg’s. Out of nine custom burgers on the menu, this is one of the best. And the apples make it a salad, so you can nosh without guilt! Another longtime local go-to is the Blue Heaven Burger at Conch Island Key West Bar & Grill. This breakfast-on-a-bun fulfills the requirements of all three daily meals in each bite and can be munched in the presence of live music.
Two places where you might not expect to find a good burger are Lewes Oyster House and Big Fish Grill. After all, they’re basically fish houses. But the Damn Good Burger at LOH on Second Street marches out of the kitchen with two (count ‘em, two!) Snake River Farms Wagyu beef patties, sharp American cheese and Benton’s bacon, topped with a secret sauce on an everything onion roll. The Chop House Bacon Burger at Big Fish Grill is also quite a production cozied up to their piping-hot, salty fries. Start with that salad with the walnut dressing. Trust me on this.
Of course, the villagers would show up at Bethany Blues Lewes with pitchforks and torches if they didn’t keep the Creekstone Farms burger on the menu. Sourced from our local Diamond State Meats, this one is what you would expect from an emporium of smoke; it sports bacon, BBQ sauce and sharp cheddar.
Last and certainly not least are the made-to-order burgers served out of a window on the side of the sadly late Jaime Parsons’ Smashmouth Burgers bus. Its current home is at Big Chill Surf Cantina, and their second bright-green truck makes cameo appearances here and there. The Rehoboth Foodie Pick Hit is the Smash Patty (think patty melt, but with an attitude). It’s built hot & fresh with caramelized onions, pickles and cheese on grilled rye. Feeling frisky? Add a slice of Taylor Pork Roll and maybe even a fried egg. You can thank me later.
Step away from your email boxes! I know there are more, but a growing boy can only eat so much. So get your toppings in order, pat your patties and toast your buns. Burger Day is on the way.