Dear Foodies,

I figured summer time would be the appropriate time of the year to bring up the “Hamburger.” I’m sure the thought of grilling some juicy burgers on your barbecue pit sounds good, but what to do when you’re too lazy? I know that when my husband says he wants to barbecue, I start thinking, “Gosh, that will mean I have to bring out all the seasonings, clean the pit, bring out all the dishes and utensils he needs and clean the bloody mess later so we won’t get salmonella.” I guess it’s worth it once we sit down to enjoy it with our family, but when we do get in that lazy mode — why make it if we can buy it!

Here’s a little Hamburger 101 tid bit: According to all the great French cookbooks — Germany gets the credit for creating the hamburger. The term “hamburger” is said to have originated in Hamburg, Germany. (Seems logical.) It was originally a patty (chopped beef and onions) served with gravy on top.

There are all kinds of theories about how the hamburger landed on a bun. Some say it was at a delicatessen in New York City, while others claim that it started at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Wherever and however the hamburger made its debut, it has certainly taken over the country, and in fact, the world. Hamburgers are said to be the number 2 favored meal worldwide, after Mexican food.

When I think of a satisfying, delicious cheeseburger made just like I like it I think of, well, you may have guessed: Whataburger. This Texas favorite represents fresh fixin’s and commitment to its customers. I used to go by Whataburger with my Spring Break (1986) buddies late night for my “Breakfast on a Bun.” Now, I order my special Whataburger this way: Double meat, grilled jalapenos and onions, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, American cheese, and mayo on a wheat bun. This chain is not a fast food joint because they do prepare the food there while you wait — and it’s well worth the little extra wait! This Texas Legend goes beyond any rating system. They are already a Texas treasure, so I won’t even place them in my rankings.

These are (in my humble opinion) the best hamburgers I’ve tasted in McAllen:

• The Grand Daddy of all Burgers goes to “Sweet Temptations Restaurant”. The juicy Angus Burger ($7.99) patty comes with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and mayonnaise on sour dough bread. This is truly homemade goodness! It’s a large portion so come with your appetite.

• The Ultimate Tex-Mex Burger goes to “La Placita del Taco.” Known as Rodz Special Hamburger ($4.50) comes with an all-beef patty, cheese, ham, an over medium egg, bacon, avocado and is served on a bun. This is a monster meal that will satisfy you till the next day. Hay que rico!

• The Hamburger Fantasy goes to “Doggies Chicago Style Restaurant”. Known as the No. 12 on the menu, it is a half-pound deluxe burger ($7.29). Imagine, 2 all-beef patties, American cheese, avocado, ham or bacon, lettuce, onions, and mayo on a bun. Bring a bib; this will prevent the lovely juices from dribbling down your front as you eat it.

• The Vegetarian Delight goes to “Ambrosia Coffee Shop.” This is no doubt the best black bean burger ($5.99) around. This bean burger comes with cheddar cheese, and fresh veggies on an onion roll or croissant. You don’t have to be on a health kick or be a vegetarian to have this tasty burger. You’ll love it!

• Happy Days Hamburger goes to “The Soda Fountain” in Lee’s Pharmacy. This cheeseburger ($3.15) is simple and terrific. It’s served with a hamburger patty, American cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and mustard on a buttery bun. I feel like this is the original diner burger, which must be washed down with one of their famous floats.

In addition to these eateries, you can also visit McAllen’s ol’ staple, Pepper’s Restaurant, during their “Happy Hour” (4 to 7 p.m.) where you order some mouth watering sirloin sliders (three per order) for $5. You can share these cute little burgers or you can have them all to yourself. Yum!

May all you “Hamburger Lovers” always remember that there’s a special burger out there waiting for you to enjoy. We have so many options now days — times are changing! There’s grass —fed, buffalo, ostrich, veggie, and soy burger options that are better for our health and taste wonderful. REALLY, they do!

Well, as John Belushi said on Saturday Night Live, “Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger”!


Madame Gourmand