Tag Archive for dinner

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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Asena Restaurant

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About a block off the central Park strip in Alameda, you’ll find this Mediterranean-focused, upscale dining spot. By Mediterranean, I mean all over the Sea with a menu featuring pasta, sour cherries, artichoke, hummus, and so on and so on. Whatever region you want of the Mediterranean, you’ll probably find something that qualifies. And if you’re sitting out on the flower-covered patio, you won’t mind if it takes a little while for your dining companions to arrive.

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Cocktail Round #1 saw us through that just fine.

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Husband and Cousin’s Boyfriend, who ordered one later on, described the ginger sake martini as so light, you forget how fast you’re drinking it. Good, but could be dangerous. The Monte Cristo presented an impressive blend of flavors for me.

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Campari, limoncello, Stoli, and pomegranate nectar was a sampling of the Mediterranean all in one glass! It was served over crushed ice, which kept it at a good dilution the whole way through, and the pomegranate brightness melded well with the bitter Campari. The limoncello provided an overall smoothness that made it taste similar to sangria in a way, though the Monte Cristo was much more my cup of liquor than most sangrias I’ve had lately.

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