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Tour de Seasonal Burger Stands

April 26, 2017

It seems like only a couple of weeks ago that it was late winter and we were fantasizing about the warmer days of spring. Do you remember when we opened the Tour de Burger Nominations back in March? I didn’t. I had to go back and refresh my memory before sitting down to write this post.

The good news is that spring is here! And as such, today is the day to announce the spring tour for the FLB. I’ve got a few important items clarified, including the name: we’ll be going on the Tour de Seasonal Burger Stands.

Now whip out those calendars and write down this date, in pen.

Saturday, May 6. That’s when we’re going to gather at Jack’s Drive In out in Wynantskill. And we’ll get our first order of the day at 11:30am. You should plan to show up a few minutes before then, and you should remember to bring a pen. It might also be a good idea to bring a printout of this map.

The place opens at 11, but I want to make sure that first batch of sauteed onions hasn’t been rushed.

If you want to bring friends along with you, the more the merrier. You’re going to need someone to share burgers with for the course of the event. But if you don’t come with a teammate, we’ll pair people up at Jack’s before we begin.

Of course, if you are the hardest of the hard core and want to do the tour solo, be my guest.

What are you going to be evaluating? Well, that depends on your team. This is one of those tours where there is a lot of flexibility baked into the system. Not everyplace we’re going has a signature burger. Some attendees might opt for something super basic like a plain hamburger to keep things consistent across the board. Others might pursue something along the lines of the cheeseburger deluxe.

I personally am a big fan of the double cheeseburger with fried or grilled onions. No lettuce. No tomato. No ketchup. No pickle. That stuff might be okay on the side, but I want my burger to be all about beef fat, char, melting cheese comingling with beef fat, and a bit of sweetness and complexity from the onions. Bacon would certainly be a welcome addition, but it’s also kind of gilding the lily.

Yes, the places we’re visiting are all special because of their sense of place. That’s why we’re actually going there instead of having the burgers picked up and brought to a central location. But at the end of the day, we’re going to be evaluating the food.

Because while none of these might be the best hamburger in the Capital Region, I’m willing to bet that one place rises above the pack for its burger skills.

Now, back to the itinerary.

Otis M. raised a good point in the nomination phase and that was that Gus’s isn’t actually a seasonal place. And it’s true. Despite all odds, it’s open year round. But Mac’s Drive In in Watervliet totally closes in the depths of winter. So they are the second stop on the tour.

After that we’re going to On The Farm, which does some remarkable things on the flattop inside their seasonal ice cream stand. Not to mention, it’s a convenient stop in between Watervliet and Clifton Park.

Because Country Drive In always had to be on this tour. And on this stop, despite my better judgement, I’m going to also make a point to try the onion rings that I’ve been hearing about forever, but have never tried. There is also a CDI Burger on the menu, although I’m unclear about what goes on it. I guess we’ll find out.

Finally, we end in Scotia at Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In. Yes, the Jackburger with its third slice of bread and coleslaw topping are indeed special. But it may not fit into everyone’s tour. And that’s okay. Plus, we’re ending there. So if you are eating bacon cheeseburgers, with lettuce and tomato, you can knock back your judging burger, take a walk along the water, and work up an appetite for a Jackburger before heading home.

I’ve heard stranger things.

Don’t over think this. Trust me. It’s going to be fun. And by the end we’ll totally have a better appreciation for all the local seasonal burger stands, plus we’ll have gained a personal understanding of what makes some of these quickly served burgers better than the others.

Maybe it’s the softness of the bun, the juiciness of the meat, the sear from the grill, the flavor of the cheese, the crispness of the bacon, the quality of the vegetables, the balance of the toppings, the caramelization of the onions, or the thickness of the ketchup.

Actually, I can guarantee you it won’t be that last one. But I do promise I’ll try to keep my ketchup judgement down in the hole, and not to yuck on others’ yum.

So, who’s in? Just let me know, so I can print out enough scoresheets. And if you have any questions, don’t be shy. I love questions. Any that are posted here are likely to be answered far more quickly than those that are still languishing elsewhere on the blog.

For what it’s worth, I do hope to correct that other issue soon.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2017 10:08 am

    I’m in and may or may not have a partner, depending on circumstances which are currently beyond my control. If not, I hope to be paired with somebody who is willing to share whatever each place defines as a cheeseburger, period. No leaving off the lettuce or other goofy stuff.

  2. April 26, 2017 10:23 am

    I’m tempted. Should we arrange a carpool???

  3. April 26, 2017 11:05 am

    I’m pretty sure I can make this. I think I’ll hold off on burgers until then.

  4. April 26, 2017 4:40 pm

    A cheeseburger without acid from a tomato, a pickle, or a sauce does not make sense to me. You are a cheeseburger deviant.

  5. April 26, 2017 8:32 pm

    Count me in.

    I’ll save my boring burger theories for the tour. See you all then.

  6. OCtG permalink
    April 28, 2017 5:59 pm

    I can’t do the entire, artery-clogging tour but, maybe I’ll stop by Jack’s after the Troy Farmers Market for my usual…
    “Two cheese-with” – “small french, heavy ketchup”.
    Yes, HEAVY ketchup – Don’t judge me.

    Be sure everyone is cognizant of the local lingo and protocol when placing your order It’s very important to any good seasonal stand.

  7. April 28, 2017 6:05 pm

    I spent some time looking at the menus of the various places (other than Jack’s, which does not post one, but I know what they have). If you ask for the house special cheeseburger at Jack’s you will get it with grilled onions. At Mac’s you’ll get whatever they put on it. At On the Farm you won’t even get lettuce and tomato because they charge extra for them. Then we move on to Country Drive In which has the mysterious CDI burger. it’s an upcharge but nobody has ever ordered one judging from the reviews, yet I’m assuming it’s something special. And of course Jumping Jack’s has that slaw burger.

    SO, for my group I’m proposing we get whatever each place considers its signature cheeseburger. That would seem to put the first three places at a disadvantage but maybe not. Sometimes the simple things are best. And a side benefit is we won’t be stuffed when we get to those two final palate wreckers.

    Who’s in?

  8. Chantelle permalink
    April 28, 2017 10:38 pm

    I will be there with my appetite and 1-2 friends

  9. Amanda M. permalink
    May 2, 2017 12:14 pm

    Matt and I will be there, with a fickle toddler in tow.

  10. Matt M. permalink
    May 5, 2017 11:24 am

    One thing I liked about the Tour de Egg Sandwich was that Stewart’s served as a baseline for a chain vs local venues. It was fascinating at the time to see how substandard the Stewart’s sandwich was, but I probably wouldn’t have noticed if it was consumed without comparison. I believe there is a McDonald’s is just down the block from the last stop, I suggest we get that baseline and for Daniel to show off his new Frork.

    • May 5, 2017 6:02 pm

      Interesting idea. There’s also a McDonald’s within a few hundred yards of the first stop, Jack’s.

      • Matt M permalink
        May 6, 2017 1:27 am

        Actually, I had the map backwards, I was think of the one near Jack’s. There’s several options along the way.

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