06 July 2011
Hamburger America: Completely Revised and Updated: 150 Great Burger Joints
This is the 2nd edition of this very useful compendium of burger joints all over the country. George Motz has spent a fair amount of time and money researching these places. The first edition had 100 places in it, this one has 150. Only two of the original 100 have dropped out for the usual reasons. These are not the only places you can get a decent burger, just a guide to what they are and where they are, in case some future restauranteur with a nostalgic bent is wondering what did attract a diverse bunch of people back in the 40s and 50s and still does.
From the Introduction: "To make the list, the burger had to be from fresh ground beef (chuck, sirloin, rump—something good from a cow) and never frozen. In most cases age, provenance, and historical context played a factor in deciding what was most relevant for this book. . . . And naturally, the burger had to excite and satisfy this expert's taste buds." So, the listed places have usually been around for a long time, and often they are down home kind of places so much so that the wonder is they are still in business.
Not every state is represented, I saw nothing from Arizona or Wyoming, and per capita, Montana's two entries are probably right up there with the likes of California, Texas, Oklahoma, and not surprisingly, Wisconsin. He includes Matt's Place Drive-In in Butte and The Missoula Club in Missoula, pretty good places to get a decent burger. It's a little surprising that no place in Billings was listed but maybe The Burger Dive will qualify for future editions, if it stays open long enough.
I've tried some of the places in Wisconsin, Colorado, Washington, Montana, and New Mexico. The all measure up but in a sort of Pass/Fail sort of way of grading. Maybe that is the way we should grade burger places anyway. I will keep trying others and let you know what I think.