Restaurants

Burger Joints of Hayward #2: Best Burger

I am conquering the burger joints of Hayward…slowly. A girl can only eat so many patties, shakes, and fries at a time. You can find out what I think makes a great burger by reading the first post in this series, right here. The second joint I’ve hit is…

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Best Burger
251 A Street

An adept, multitasking staff and a nondescript exterior with plenty of seating are housed inside this restaurant about a mile from downtown Hayward. The standard greasy spoon options are available as well as teriyaki and spicy pork platters. Burger types are many, including Hawaiian burgers with grilled pineapple and the popular Best Burger itself, topped off with pastrami.

I don’t like pastrami, so I ordered a simple cheeseburger.

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Patty: It was a giant disc, bigger than the bun! The patty was thin—1/3 lb. only flattens so far—and after an initial hit of salt, it didn’t serve up much by way of juice or seasoning.

Bun: Warm sesame bun. As you can see in that picture, the bottom was definitely smaller than the top. Thus, I diagnose it with Disappearing Bottom Bun disease and recommend flipping about 2/3rds of the way through.

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Burger Joints of Hayward #1—1/4 Lb. Giant Burger

Chuck's in Raleigh, NC

Chuck’s in Raleigh, NC

Driving through the streets of Hayward, many small burger joints entice me with their siren’s call. You know the one: “Try me! I’ll deliver all the drippy, cheesy, beefy goodness you remember from that shack down the block growing up.” For me, these tempters recall the Charlie’s King Falafel in Old Orcutt, just outside Santa Maria, CA. Barely big enough for one person to order at the register at a time, young Becca always had the queen size and it always satisfied. I have no idea if their falafel was any good. I had no idea what falafel was until well after I moved away to college.

Ah, my memories…(photo from Yelp)

I paint that nostalgic picture to introduce a new series from the Gourmez. My resistance has failed, and I’m going to try each and every one of those burger joints in Hayward, so help me! Before you ask, yes, I’ve tried the iconic Val’s. It’s three blocks away from my apartment. But I haven’t been impressed. So if Val’s is the be-all end-all of burger heaven for you, well, our taste buds might not be best buds.

What makes a great burger joint? It’s more than just the patty for me, though the meat’s freshness and flavor is the most essential factor. What else matters? Quality of the bun: if it’s falling to pieces or mush before I’m done, that’s a problem. Grilled is appreciated as well. Cheese melt: That slice of cheese better be dripping all over the patty before you serve it.

William’s Gourmet Kitchen in Durham, NC, shows off its melting cheese.

Quality of the toppings: I like mayo, and I like it sloppy. I also want lettuce, tomato, onion, and maybe bacon, jalapeno, or avocado depending on my mood. Regardless, the ingredients must not make me wonder when the restaurant had its last produce delivery (this is my main problem with Val’s). Fries: Anything but steak-cut, boring, flavorless fries makes me happy (Val’s problem #2). Shake: I like to sip at my straw and actually get some shake through it, but I accept that the thicker the shake, the happier most people are, though I must maintain that such shakes should just be called ice cream (Final Val’s note: I haven’t had their shakes. I suspect that’s my biggest problem).

You have my criteria. And I have my first burger joint review for you.

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Downtown St. Paul, Cosetta, and the Wabasha Street Caves

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I’ve been to Minneapolis a number of times, but somehow, I hadn’t made it to neighboring St. Paul, the capitol of Minnesota. So on my last trip to the area, I was determined to spend an afternoon there. It didn’t make any sense to this wanderluster to be that close to the city and never step a foot in it.

And I am glad I did! As one native remarked as I was trudging my way up to the Cathedral of Saint Paul—

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–it’s a city full of beautiful architecture and rich culture. Well, what he actually said is more beautiful and richer than Minneapolis, but I’m not willing to take sides on that debate. I will say that my afternoon traipsing through the downtown was full of awesome discoveries.

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The first of them was in that picture—the Landmark Center. It’s gorgeous and is now used as an event space. The second was the statues of the Peanuts throughout the neighboring parks.

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I honestly didn’t know Charles Schultz was from St. Paul. Happening upon little trivia tidbits like that is why I love exploring cities.

St. Paul Hotel

St. Paul Hotel

After a Dunn Bros coffee and checking out the Rice Park area, I decided it was time to hunt down that Cathedral, which took my breath away as I passed it on the bus into town.

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So off I went, getting closer and closer.

Passing the Xcel Center

Passing the Xcel Center

My stomach insisted on lunch before my journeying could continue, so I check out nearby Cosetta (2011 7th St.) a St. Paul institution.

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