Death by Cheeseburger II – Craving a Juicy Burger from Bun & Bean

In my last post I wrote down my preferences and biases of what I think makes a great burger. If you haven’t read it, you should read it before reading this post, to put this post in better context.

Today, I want to share 3 local burger joints I’ve eaten at recently and share my thoughts about how they stack up against my ideal burger.

In order from what I liked least to what I liked best.
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Death by Cheeseburger

Why do the tastiest things have to be so bad for us?

I just got back from my yearly physical, and it’s good news. I’m healthy as an ox. And that means I’m free to eat bad things for another year. So far, my love of food hasn’t caught up to me, and while I want to lose ten pounds (who doesn’t?) my BMI number doesn’t qualify me for my own show on TLC.
I realized I’ve not put my thoughts about burgers down on the blog yet. So the next few posts will be dedicated to those incredibly unhealthy, but also incredibly delicious, calorie bomb sandwiches made with ground beef patties.
I have very specific thoughts on what makes a great burger. It stems largely from a light bulb going off in my head after eating a few times at Five Guys, falling in love with it, and comparing their burger to others. Five Guys has nailed the perfect burger in my opinion, and I’ve dissected their burger down to its components to come up with a burger style that I find to be the most satisfying and delicious.

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Some Chains I’d Like to See Come to Albany

Let’s face it, chain restaurants are ubiquitous. And people that don’t eat at chains are the exception rather than the rule. Chains get a bad rap. They’re associated with poor quality, highly processed foods, with little nutritional value. I’ve even chronicled some of them in my Bad Chains series.

But good things are happening. Consumers are demanding better quality food, while still desiring the convenience and familiarity that chains deliver, and restaurants are responding. Just recently, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell announced they are removing artificial ingredients from their food. Panera has pledged to do the same. Even Chipotle—arguably the leader in the “better fast food” category—has announced it will no longer use ingredients that contain GMOs.

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Staycationaurant III – Chicago

Welcome to part 3 of what I’ve coined as a ‘Staycationaraunt’. I’ve been chronicling my overeating-at-special-restuarants in Staycationaurant I and Staycationaurant II. Please check out those posts if you haven’t already.

In my last post, Feeding Twenty Three Thousand, I recounted the horrible food served at the tech conference I attended. It wasn’t all bad though, because I failed to mention the conference was held in Chicago.

I had never been to Chicago, so I was very excited to go, and obviously, I was most excited to find some great restaurants. That task is not as easy as it would seem. A big city like Chicago is loaded with great restaurants, but it’s not just great food I like to seek out. I love places that are unique or special in some way, or at the very least, considered to be the best at what they do. Best pizza, best tacos, etc. And they have to be cheap. I just cannot afford high end dining.

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Jumpin’ Jack’s is not Just a Restaurant

I grew up in Schenectady. I have fond memories of Jumpin’ Jack’s. When I was a kid, my father would take my brother and me to Collins Park, across the street from JJ’s, to swim in Collins Lake. After a couple hours at the lake, he would take us to Jumpin’ Jack’s. I’d always get a plain cheeseburger and fries. I vividly remember sitting at one of the many picnic tables, still wet and shirtless, happily munching away. It was mandatory that we get a soft serve cone too. I don’t know if they still have them, but back then they had these double cone monstrosities. Two ice cream cones in one. I loved those things. There was so much ice cream in them we’d often nearly get sick trying to finish it all.

Then there’s the many times we’d watch the fireworks there. Scotia puts on a very popular fireworks show near the river, every year around the 4th, at Freedom Park in Jumpin’ Jack’s back yard. In spite of the long lines, getting something at JJ’s was always part of the experience. We looked forward to it every year. In fact, a couple of years ago my wife and I took my daughter to see the fireworks there. Even with the crowds, it’s a lot of fun.

Jumpin’ Jack’s is a local treasure. Happily it remains insanely popular to this day.

This past Thursday Jumpin’ Jack’s opened for the season to long lines. WTEN covered it, and there were even a few people waiting in line early in the morning before they opened, similar to the lines that form at Apple stores before a new iPhone is released. WTEN interviewed the manager, and he said, “I don’t understand why, sometimes, [Jumpin’ Jack’s is so popular]… we’re just a restaurant…”.


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The Infamous Swifty’s Buffalo Burger

The Buffalo Burger at Swifty’s is world renown. A couple of years ago I traveled to a remote village in the mountains of Tibet. When the locals found out I was from the U.S. and specifically from Albany NY, they raised their eyebrows and with palpable excitement asked if had I eaten the Buffalo burger at Swifty’s. I had to tell them no, I hadn’t. They were crestfallen. I think from that point on they no longer respected me. At that moment, I vowed I would one day eat this mythical creation.
The Buffalo Burger is a breaded, deep fried beef patty that’s then dipped in Buffalo sauce—wing sauce as I like to call it. To bread and deep fry, a 1/2 pound beef patty is gilding the lily, to say the least. To then soak it in wing sauce is diabolical. The thing is not for the faint of heart. Only the gastronomically jaded need apply.
One does not just go to Swifty’s and eat the Buffalo Burger. One trains for it, the way an Olympic athlete trains for the games. Yet, weeks or even months of preparation cannot truly gird one for the experience I knew I was about to embark on.
But that didn’t stop me from trying.

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