A burger is a savage thing.
Let other foods be civilized or corner the delicacy market. A burger, a really great burger, is untamed. Feral. Indecent.
This may occur to you as your Spring Hill BURGER, $17, hits your table. “Best not to cut it,” your server may caution as you reach for your knife. The beast is fully five inches high. “It could disintegrate.” Worse, it could topple—and then where would you be? Eating the thing with a fork, that’s where. And that’s no way to eat a burger. Especially one featuring a meaty half-pound ball of beef, two melting layers of cheese, and chewy-thick bacon, all slathered in the richest Thousand Island dressing you have ever licked directly off your shirt.
Of course you are at Spring Hill, West Seattle’s fashionable bastion of culinary distinction—so that beef is actually organically raised, grass-fed Painted Hills chuck, fresh-ground in-house. The bacon is crafted on site; the cheeses are white cheddar and California’s lovely, rarely seen teleme; the bun is from Dahlia Bakery; and that luscious cream you thought was Thousand Island is actually aioli fired with roasted tomatoes. It’s precious-meets-primal, a contrast so irresistible we had to put it on the cover of the magazine. The fries, deep-fried in beef fat, went directly for primal. Excellent choice. Spring Hill, 4437 California Ave SW, West Seattle, 206-935-1075; www.springhillnorthwest.com
Red Mill Burgers
In this world there are meat burgers and there are fixings burgers. Red Mill, where the length of the ever-present line is rivaled only by the heft of the DOUBLE BACON DELUXE WITH CHEESE, $6.49, is Seattle’s high holy temple of the fixings burger.
Viewed coldly, it really oughtn’t to be that way. Because what we have on the double bacon deluxe with cheese are two terribly ordinary quarter-pound patties, slightly too cooked, heaped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and red onions, and draped in—we almost can’t bring ourselves to write it—American cheese. This is the burger the Dick’s Deluxe wants to be when it grows up.
That big slabs of pepper bacon (check out the mountain of it next to the grill) and deeply smoky Mill sauce also appear on the burger should not be enough to redeem this baby from the insult of the faux cheese. But here’s the thing: It all adds up to one unexpectedly perfect combination. Stranger still is the moment you realize that the mouth-coating velvet of the cheese may be the biggest part of why. Like we said: It’s the fixings. So who would we be to argue if a person wanted to peel back the top bun and carefully lay in a few onion rings—created with help from Tom Douglas, tweaked with cayenne, and pronounced by GQ magazine the best onion rings in the country? Red Mill Burgers, 312 N 67th St, Phinney Ridge, 206-783-6362. 1613 W Dravus St, Interbay, 206-284-6363; www.redmillburgers.com
At Jak’s, the burgers come with a steak knife. A nice big one. You won’t necessarily need it; soy and Worcestershire sauces make the ground, corn-fed Nebraska beef extra tender and insanely moist, but the sharp, serrated blade is a nice touch just the same. Jak’s is, after all, an honest-to-gosh, Sinatra-on-the-stereo, brass-and-polished-cherry-wood steak house, and chances are good that your dining companions will be carving up filet mignon.
Don’t worry: You won’t feel inadequate. While they politely fork neat bites of steak, you’ll have more fun sinking your teeth into the JAK’S BURGER, $13.14, a half pound of sumptuously seasoned meat topped with a slightly uncivilized pile of blue cheese and a tangle of soft, salty bacon underscored by tangy roasted red-pepper mayo. And you can request a UFO with your protein: The potato pancake–topped pile of garlicky, skin-on mashed spuds used to be like a secret side dish that only the regulars knew, but now servers offer it up along with the night’s martini special and the soup of the day. Don’t take it for granted. Jak’s Grill, 3701 NE 45th St, Laurelhurst, 206-985-8545. 14 Front St N, Issaquah, 425-837-8834. 4548 California Ave SW, West Seattle, 206-937-7809; www.jaksgrill.com