If I were told that I had one last meal before I died and then I was given the choice between a super chic 15 course degustation meal cooked by Thomas Keller, Tetsuya Wakuda, Ferran Adria and Joel Robuchon and a perfect cheeseburger, the choice would be easy. I’d pick the burger without a moment’s hesitation. Because while fancy fare is fun to eat and the theater of a top restaurant is often memorable, nothing beats a good burger.

I love burgers. Part of my fanaticism is my mother’s fault. When I was younger, she made some pretty amazing cheeseburgers—chopped sirloin patties with American cheese on toasted Thomas’ English Muffins. Even today, when I think about some of my best times as a kid, many of them involve me sitting at the kitchen counter, burger in hand. And in the mouth.

It’s hard to define what makes a good burger. Is it the bun? Or is it the meat? Should it be hand-chopped? Should there be anything blended into the meat or should it be beef with nothing more than salt and pepper? What about a bit of pork in the patty? Ketchup or “special sauce”? What kind of cheese is best? Just how many toppings should the burger have? Should it be a total salad like so many Aussie burgers have in them or should the toppings be limited to the traditional combination of lettuce, tomato and onion? What about a fried egg on it?

Honestly, what makes a great burger is a pretty individual thing. Three of my favorites can be found in Margaret River, Western Australia, St. Helena, California and New York City. The burger served at the Green Room Surf Café in Margaret River is gorgeously Australian. It consists of a large patty topped with 3 inches of salad—alfafa, beetroot (a typical Aussie touch), lettuce, etc—cheese and bacon, served on a bacon cheese bun. Taylor’s Refresher, in St. Helena, a small town in Napa Valley, is a slice of the American past. I mean, what could be more retro than a roadside burger shack? I especially like the Patty Melt, a burger with swiss cheese, grilled onions, mayo & dijon on grilled rye. Corner Bistro is something of an institution in New York. And for West Village residents—which I was way back in the mid-nineties—it’s where you go when all you want is a good cheap beer and a great, greasy burger. Despite its name, the Bistro is a good old-fashioned dive bar, open from around lunch time until 4AM every day of the week. It serves cheap drinks—including microbrews for just $2 a mug—and a simple menu of burger, cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger and fries. Regulars have no problem standing in line for an hour for a table and one of their no-frills burgers, served on paper plates.

One of the few people I know who is even more obsessed with burgers than I am is my brother W. As an ex-Los Angeles resident—like just about every person I’ve ever met who has lived in L.A.—he’s obsessed with In’N’Out Burger. He talks about their burgers all the time. And when he does, it’s with this eerie reverential tone reserved only for Ducatis, miniature long-haired dachshunds, epoisse, Terence Malick movies and his girlfriend. I, however, have never had an In’N’Out burger, so I can only imagine what one tastes like based on W’s descriptions. And from reading various descriptions on the web.

From what I’ve gathered, an In’N’Out burger is small. It’s made with really fresh ingredients and served with a “secret sauce”. And lastly, it’s stacked in a specific order—from bottom up, bun, sauce, tomato, lettuce, patty, cheese, grilled onion, bun. Since I’ve never eaten one, there’s no way I’d be able to replicate it—it’s a bit like trying to sing a song without ever hearing it first. But because I was kind of curious what the fuss was all about, I did decide to take what I had read and come up with a burger in the spirit of In’N’Out’s double double (two patties, 2 slices of cheese) but made my own way.

I made a bunch of small patties, each about a half inch thick (In’N’Out’s are supposedly a quarter inch). I blended a sauce together using ketchup, mayo, Japanese mayo, Champagne vinegar, worcester sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. We served the burgers with the sauce, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, Kraft Deli Deluxe American cheese slices, grilled onions and small butter buns fried in salted butter. I though the burgers were delicious. And I loved the small size; it made them easier to eat.

Of course, when I served one to W, he said it tasted great but wasn’t anything like an In’N’Out. Which, I think, is pretty okay with me.

The Green Room Surf Cafe
113B Bussell Hwy, Margaret River
Western Australia
(Note that the café only opens at 5pm)

Taylor’s Refresher
933 Main Street
St. Helena, CA

Corner Bistro
331 W 4th St
New York, NY 10014

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!


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16 February 2006


Hola CH & sexy darling S, I just wanna drop a note to let you both know that I really enjoyed reading the entry about the MIL’s banana cake which I followed through from a link from Greedy Goose. I particularly love the setup and design for that picture! I’ll try the recipe in those tiny cups. They look devinely scrumptious.

Un beso, kel @ Green Olive Tree

gotta love all the burger-love going on in here. To the gastro-burger list I would have to add My Father’s Office on Montana in Santa Monica. Aged beef on a crusty roll with grilled onions, bleu cheese, baby greens and a homemade barbeque sauce.

MFO is much like Corner Bistro when it comes to wait times, tho…

Hey CH,

It is almost midnight and you have tempted me to go out and get a burger, shame on you! My faves: Gourmet Burger Kitchen or the Fine Burger Company are both great choices in London, the animal burger at In-N-Out, the cheeseburger at George’s Bar in Iowa City (but not until about 2AM), the cheeseburger at the Legian in Bali and last but not least, the double cheeseburger at White Castle. Now I am not a fast food fan by any means except for a White Castle Slyder… Oh, by the way, though it’s not a burger, the pulled pork sandwich on brioche bun at the Blue Smoke in NYC kicks ass, too.

This is certainly not going to make your wife happy about your eating habits but I’d love to see you reproduce the Shake Shack’s ‘shroom burger (meatless). I did some poking around and this is most info I can get on the production:

Roasted Portobello mushrooms stuffed with Munster cheese (I think the cheese is blanketed in between the Portobello’s) breaded with panko and deep fried in soy oil. The bun in a doughy potato bun and there is the secret Shack Sauce – mayo-based fixin’ secretly seasoned. The consensus in descriptions I read was “roasted garlic vinaigrette” and “garlicy, relishy, mayo” and “thousand island like”. It looks like the picture in this flickr (minus the beef patties). You get a little glimpse of the sauce in the upper right hand corner (thousand island dressing color).


and this is a pretty good write-up about the al fresco burger joint.


Btw, the burgers are sirloin-brisket meat.

Australian burgers…. My eyes still cross when I remember ordering a burger “with everything” at some no-name lunch counter in Sydney.

What the…? Beets?

Culture shock for a 16 year old American lad.

I must agree that In ‘n Out burgers are my fast food of choice. The only way to eat them is “animal style,” cooked with mustard and sloppy with grilled onions. They are all over Phoenix, AZ now and we’re lucky.

Hunting for burgers in S’pore : I love the burgers at Blooie’s (bacon, m’room, cheese, onions) at Science Park 2 or Black Angus at One Fullerton where the patties taste of real meat! mmm. any other suggestions?

I would take the 15 course degustation by those chefs anytime dude….and Johnny Rocket beats In and out hands down !!!

Whataburger back home in Texas. Double meat with extra cheese, pickles, lettuce & mustard stacked with 1/3 of an order of their onion rings smooshed in… heavenly.

Andrea: Thanks for sharing the secret menu. Awesome.

Shane: I love fried eggs on my burger. Sounds great.

Nicholas: I agree. The American Club serves great burgers. But since most of us can only go there when being entertained by kinder, wealthier souls, I left it out of my original Singaporean recommendations.

Maxigumee: Sorry for tempting you.

Burger Seeker: Great forum. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Jaywalke: That sounds great. Not sure if I’ll ever get out to Ann Arbor though.

Kel: Hiya, it’s a great recipe. I hope it works for you. Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous: MFO sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Vivilicious: As a guy who spent a good part of his childhood in NYC, I’m a big White Castle fan as well. I’ll have to go try the burger at the Legian. Thank god for discount airlines.

Lisa: Wow. Sounds great. I’ll have to try it some day.

Logan: I know what you mean. I was so freaked out by my first Aussie burger.

Mel: I haven’t tried Blooie’s yet. I will now that you’ve recommended it. Thanks.

Anonymous: To each his or her own. 🙂

Anonymous: Sounds good.

Aloha! The best “Aloha” hamburger I ONLY buy from Aloha Theatre Cafe and they are so ONO! Homemade buns, Maui onions, Lettuce, slice of pineapple and soft yet half burned hamburger with Lili’oki sauce..dammit makes me hungry for it! Just need to fly out from here to Kona, that is about 45 minutes and three islands away from here =-) Always like to read your blog and of course, your great photos!

PS: How do you get rid of that blogger navigator on the top? can’t stand it !!! Aloha!

In Southern California there are three really notable burgers that I’ve discovered so far. In-N-Out is definatly a good hamburger in the fast-food style. FatBurger makes the best “traditional” hamberger I’m had. The best overall hamburger is the Widowmaker from Claim Jumper. It’s a fantastic hamburger, a meaty work of art that surpasses anything else I’ve had. It has onion rings, bacon, a tomato garnish that’s kind of like ketchup, but not really. It’s just well put together and it tastes really great. If you like hamburgers, then you really need to try it.

Jeff P.

How much would you charge to Fed Ex me that burger? Maybe I’ll just print out the picture and eat that.

Yum. That’s pretty much the only coherent thing I can say about your blog. Yum. Good reading. Better eating.

I need to go drool now.

Alohama: Thanks for commenting. I just emailed you the code.

Jeff P: Is Claim Jumper a standalone or a chain? Sounds great!

Erin: Thanks!

Moose: LOL. Thanks.

I just stumbled upon your blog and I’m oh so loving the pictures! They are a feast to my eyes, and makes my mouth water!
Excellent images!

funny how the great burger debate is such a timeless and frequent classsic,certainly justifying CH’s last meal status. My call for S’pore is Poppi on sunday menu only-Wyagu,foie gras, roasted cherry tomatoes,black truffle slices and oil and asparagus tips (S$45),sublime combo and always juicy,unlike goodwood grill n iggys(only dry once tho,love iggys).Tried one naked and still great.
Fred-spot on suggestions,i think those inconsistencies you note are mainly due to S’pores position way down the food supply chain and we’re stuck with them.

I reckon I’d see what sort of burger Tetsuya could come up with.

Then there’s the burgers at Burgerman in Darlinghurst in Sydney.

Hi A
Thanks for the heads up on Corner Bistro! I didnt take notice of it even though i walked past it on my way to pick up cupcakes from Magnolia on Bleecker St! So i made a visit to to try its Bistro burger one evening and it was like wow. Bargain délicieux.

hi. I really like reading your blog. and I’ve finally remembered why all the In-N-Out comments confused me. I’m a native Californian so I’m used to the goodness of In-N-Out but I must say that a better burger can be found at the Fatburger chain. They’ve got more toppings including bacon and egg, sauce, mayo, ketchup, grilled/reg. onions. More importantly, a nice thick, juicy patty cushioned by nice buns. The stuff is made fresh and the serving is pretty generous. The regular Fatburger is as a large as my face. In-N-Out does have better fries and is cheaper, but a Fatburger is not to be missed. seriously.

I must agree with s’mee, who I believe is talking about a restaurant called Buzz’s. They serve the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. They are in Kailua on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. A bit tough to get to on the spur of the moment from the mainland but if you’re ever on Oahu…my husband and I have made a special inter-island stop just to experience another burger at Buzz’s!

weel well chubby hubby- you should head all the way down to slough on a weekend, as they have the most delicious half pounder burgers from this tiny little van- its so clean, but you get two juicy tender patties with a fried egg on top and oozing cheese, with lots of mayo special sauce , and anything else you want on it- it really does weigh at least half a pound, but its just big enough to be able to get your mouth round….!!!! and it makes your heart sing.mmmm!!! loved to read your tributes to one of the most addictive foods around…we shouldn’t love them so much (especially for a womans figure!) but who can say no???? ha!

My husband grew up in SoCal but now lives in NC, and all he talks about is how great In N Out burgers are! They remind him of home, I guess.

A couple of years ago, he wanted to go back to Anaheim for the holidays, but it just didn’t work out. I got on their website and ordered him a t-shirt. In the box, I wrote a notes that said “Since I can’t take you home for Christmas, I brought a piece of home to you”. He was so touched! Whenever he wears his shirt, he always gets stopped by people commenting on In N Out and how much they miss it.

We went to Vegas last year and of course we had to go to one. It was good, but not as good as he made them out to be. I think it is a piece of home to him. Of course, we had to buy all kinds of In N Out shirts, stickers, etc.

My lone experience at the Corner Bistro was a disappointment – the burger was charred to blackness. But Paul’s, on Second Avenue in the east village, has never let me down. (insert homer simpson voice) Mmmmmmm, Paul’s…

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