There’s no such thing as a bad burger. One might be overcooked, and another might be cold. You could discover overflowing toppings on your half-pounder when all you really want is ketchup and pickles. You could have trouble locating a black bean patty if you’re a vegetarian, or the only one left on the grill might be an Impossible Burger when you’re craving red meat. At the end of the day—or after your panic attack—you’re still having a burger, which means life is good.
Burgers are synonymous with summer in the USA. Seriously, is there a more American food than the humble hamburger? Hot dogs are just sausages, which are vaguely Germanic. Apple pie is a larger, flatter version of strudel, also Germanic. Beer? The Germans taught us how to brew it. Hamburgers have nothing to do with Germany, other than being named for one of its largest cities. See what I mean? American through and through.
We celebrate burgers this month (“Patty Madness”) because they’ve been excellent companions through the pandemic. They’re delicious when you have them at a restaurant or when you grab carryout. They generally travel well in takeout boxes, though some of their buns don’t. Just about every spot with a food and/or liquor license across the Cincinnati region has a burger on the menu. They’re the very definition of comfort food.
Like your best friend, burgers can be boring but don’t have to be. Local kitchens hand-pat their patties from Wagyu beef, turkey, bison, chorizo, and even seasoned falafel. You can top them with blue cheese, pimento cheese, roasted garlic gloves, fried eggs, avocado, bourbon sriracha, mushroom demi-glace, sweet mango chutney, and even bone marrow mayo. And you can order a side of poutine, steamed broccoli, kale salad, or a take-home growler of your favorite craft beer.
Dress them up, dress them down, eat them at a roadside diner, treat yourself at Jeff Ruby’s or Boca, grill some in your backyard, or pop into Frisch’s for a Big Boy—there’s no wrong way to enjoy a burger. Bon appétit, and happy summer!