Teddy's Bigger Burgers
The burger is a proprietary piece of American culinary culture: beef, bun, cheese, ketchup, good. Gussy up that utilitarian formula with frou-frou adornments and silly special sauces, and the social fabric unravels. That’s what we were thinking as we slid onto a stool at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers and faced down a patty slathered in teriyaki sauce and topped with pineapple slices. Even the clown fish in the massive tank at the center of this Blue Hawaii–meets– American Graffiti burger joint braced for our “What have they done?!” screams.
Oh, but gastronomic xenophobia is the enemy of fortuitous taste exploration. Teddy’s has been a legend in Hawaii for 10 years (the Woodinville location just opened in March) and the burger culture there has yet to implode. Once we got past the perverse notion of putting island fruit between beef and bun, we found that the HAWAIIAN BURGER, $6.15—along with lettuce, tomatoes, white onions, and pickles—deftly walks the line between salty and sweet. This is a six-napkin feast, though: Even if you opt for the dainty five-ounce patty (Teddy’s serves up seven- and nine-ounce versions as well), the mixture of sauces and juices is more than the buttery-soft bun can absorb. But it’s a mess worth taming in the name of blazing new trails in burger consumption. Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, 17705 140th Ave NE, Woodinville, 425-408-1604; www.teddysbiggerburgers.com
Soy beans and wheat gluten will never taste like the juicy, fatty flesh of a cow. And why should they? A really tasty vegetarian patty makes stars out of the ingredients from which it is composed, something the chef at 22 Doors —the casual Capitol Hill brunch and cocktail spot that draws spillover crowds from Coastal Kitchen—seems to understand. The VEGGIE BURGER, $12, is a macerated mash-up of celery, mushroom, balsamic, and red pepper (among other things) pummeled into an inch-thick patty—solid enough to keep from crumbling when you eat it, soft enough to stand out against its bean-based brethren—then piled high with a generous slathering of caramelized onions, a gooey slice of fontina, a crisp romaine leaf, and a tangy tomato remoulade on top. The bun is sesame and toasted, the shoestring fries are perfect and plentiful, and the whole experience will forever erase the melancholy memory of every dusty meat-free hamburger that’s ever stuck to the roof of your mouth. 22 Doors, 405 15th Ave E, Capitol Hill, 206-324-6406; www.twentytwodoors.com
Sometimes eating a hamburger can be a mouthwatering excuse to swallow a lot of nostalgia—and given the right fixings, nostalgia can be pretty tasty.
Burgermaster, a family business that’s been around Seattle since 1952, summons simpler times. Head to one of their drive-ins, where you pull into a parking spot, peruse a menu that’s posted on a pole, and wait for a friendly attendant with a logo on her shirt to sidle up and take your order. By the time you’ve soaked in the kitschy novelty of it all, she’s back and asking you to roll up your window a bit so she can hang the food tray on it. Such charm is particularly enjoyable at the Greenwood location (one of five from Everett to Bellevue), which evokes old-fashioned pleasures despite being situated on Aurora Avenue (although, to be fair, Aurora Avenue has long been famous for a different sort of old-fashioned pleasure…).
Burgermaster’s titular attraction—THE BURGERMASTER, $4.64—is the nifty kind of burger people ordered before burgers got all tricked out. The toasted buns hold pickles, a crisp slice of onion, a thin grilled patty, a hunk of lettuce, a juicy tomato, and melted American cheese. (Yes, American. Love it or leave it.) The whole thing crunches appetizingly together in your hands before you even take a bite. A combo meal with divinely salty fries and a rich shake proves the best things in life aren’t free—they cost about nine bucks. Burgermaster, 9820 Aurora Ave N, Greenwood, 206-522-2044; www.burgermaster.biz