We have a soft spot for In ‘n Out because the fries are so fresh and piping hot that you have to eat them immediately, or else you might as well toss ’em. They are as fresh as it gets, but because they’re so fresh—watch the employee slam the potatoes through the “hand cut” machine—their shelf life is from the drive through window until our driveway. If they’re not consumed by the time we park, they greet the garbage can on the way inside. In ‘n Out burgers are fresh, and above and beyond delicious. If we order the double-single (only one slice of cheese) protein style (wrapped in iceberg lettuce, no bread), our fast food guilt dips a level or two. Add a pink lemonade and it’s almost the perfect meal, and we’re only “kinda” kidding.
We love Oinkster for their irresistible garlic mayo and chipotle catsup that accompanies their fries, but we’ve never been too impressed with the burgers. The burger meat, the patty itself, is rather bland to our taste buds. Our teenage HP contributor couldn’t disagree with us more, but she did come home from Umami Burger with a dazzle in her eyes.We’ve tried Top’s, Lucky Boy, Hi-Life, and Twohey’s, but there’s one place that’s our go-to when we’re craving a burger…
Gus’s Barbecue’s Famous Burger is enough for two people of considerable size, even though we often finish it all by ourselves, especially after we justify doing so by going for a run, power walk, or swim before we go to dine. Or if we’re really pining and time is tight, we’ll allow ourselves to think about exercise in order to give ourselves permission to indulge, or we’ll swear on our cat’s life (though that’s a half-hearted swear because we don’t really like this cat) that we’ll exercise double-time the next day, once we can heave ourselves off the couch, of course.
Before we succumbed to explaining our eternal guilt (see above, read repeatedly), we were praising Gus’s burgers. The meat they use is incredibly flavorful and juicy, enhanced by the grilling and the pink interior. We could eat the patty all by itself. But even with the inordinate number of additions Gus’s Famous Burger comes with, the flavor of the Nebraska chuck comes through loud and clear on our palate.
It’s not an easy burger to eat as it’s piled a couple of stories high with shredded onion strings, cheddar cheese, and thick slices of applewood smoked bacon. A mix of Gus’s barbecue sauce and roasted garlic aioli brings a kick with a bit of tang (without being overly sweet). We begin by rising in our seat a little so we can bear down and saw the burger in half. If we haven’t done so already, we ask for a dozen or more napkins. Just to break for a sip of water or Craftsman 1903, or to take a bite of the palate-cleansing, digestive-inducing, vitamin rich cabbage slaw, takes about two napkins and a wet wipe.
Burger prices range from $10.95 to $12.95.
Gus’s Barbecue, 808 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena 91030. GussBBQ.com. 626.799.3251.
If we are not burger-deprived, we indulge in the catfish, cast iron cornbread, pulled pork, and any of the ribs. The spinach and artichoke dip with homemade tortilla chips is always on our order list. It’s important to snack on something while contemplating Gus’s extensive menu. Just don’t fill up with the appetizer. Take it slow and steady.