Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cleveland Burger Wars

Last night, my pal Cookbook and I hit up the Five Guys Burgers over in Mayfield Heights before catching The Book of Eli (meh) at the fascinating there. If you don't know about the Phoenix Theater chain, it is a basically a typical movie theater playing the kinds of big budget films you'd se at Tower City, except that it also routinely screens the best of Bollywood film. Interesting, huh? Here's a good article from the LA Times on the phenomenon, if you want to read a little more.

Anyway, while we were chowing down on our burgers and fries, I found myself alternating between feeling impressed with the freshness of the burger's meat and bewildered by the company's marketing strategy. You see, once you enter the restaurant, you are almost aggresively confronted by the fact that this eatery could literally be anywhere in the USA. There are posters all over the dining room and hallway leading to the restrooms that feature quotes from restaurant reviews from cities all over America, part of the corporation's clear strategy to convey a certain level of culinary credibility to a certain type of consumer.

At first, I thought this was absolutely foolish, until I realized that the dining room was jam packed and, as I mentioned to Cookbook as we headed toward the theater afterward, if the same exact burger was being served at Bill and Susie's local independent (and obviously hypothetical) diner, they'd have maybe 20% of the traffic. So clearly the message is reaching the ears it is designed to reach.

And who cares. I could go on a buy local rant right now, as I tend to do, but instead, I'll pose the same question to you that I posed to Cookbook. What is your favorite Cleveland burger?

Oddly, we had a tough time thinking of that. I mentioned how much I liked the Diablo Burger at Melt and how I loved the literally dozens of options for funky burgers at The Pub on Lee in Cleveland Heights, and she noted that the burgers at Heck's and The Grovewood are good, and that there is a place on the far west side that neither of us could remember the name of that is supposedly good. And, of course, we both loved the happy hour burger at Lolita in Tremont, even if we didn't love the sardined and rushed feeling that accompanies eating at that small bar during happy hour.

It was at that moment, I knew I needed to turn to you, my dear readers. Neither Cookbook nor I are native Clevelanders. I've been here about 2 1/2 years and I'm thinking she's been here 6-7, and both of us are sorta bothered by our lack awareness on the 216's burger scene. So, without further ado, what do you think? Where would you go if you or someone visiting you was craving some serious burger action?

(PS - The photo above is from my burger last night at 5 Guys. It was good, but it sure wasn't Cleveland.)


Cookbook said...

Burgers I've liked in Cleveland:

Winking Lizard
Brennan's Colony

The burgers at 5 guys were definitely above average. It would have been nice to have a choice of done-ness of meat -- I like a good rare to medium-rare slab of ground beef, myself. It came well-done, but tasted good nonetheless, which was fine. The fries were average, though.

Suburban Sweetheart said...

There's a Five Guys down the street from my office in DC, and though the service is terribly slow, it's one of my favorite fast food indulgences. So you CAN get Five Guys anywhere in America! But as you said - if the taste measures up, does it matter?

matt said...

Becky Burger @ Becky's - East 18th and Chester...

Agreed on Heck's - good eatin'

Russ said...

The Gouda Burger at Prosperity is pretty money.