The family was forced to divide and conquer this weekend, leaving my son and I holding down the fort at home with the dog. It probably comes as no surprise, but on these occasions my son and I often use this situation as a good excuse to slip away for a burger and some father-son bonding time. As we were enjoying our burgers together and I was contemplating this week's blog post, I realized how passionate many feel about burgers. I mean, who doesn't have their favourite burger place? I think it's something about the burger place that connects with people. Well, I got thinking about my local favourites and wondered if this topic might spark some commentary.
Before I offer my list, I have to qualify a couple things. First of all, when I rank my favourite burgers I am considering the following:
1) I'm looking at the traditional cheeseburger of the joint. I don't really go for the fancy "Smokehouse" or anything with fruit or some kind of gimmick. I like a regular cheeseburger with a good compliment of fixings.
2) Size doesn't matter. In fact, I am learning to appreciate the smaller, tastier burger of late. I find a good double burger to work, but anything meatier takes away from the experience for me. Also, I won't get bacon on any burger larger than a single.
3) The atmosphere of the joint can't hurt the burger, but it can certainly help. Also, the significance of the place to me can adjust some ranking in this case.
Here are The Passionate Principal's Top Ten Burgers in Calgary:
10) Boogies Burgers - for many a staple in their top three. I have to admit, I've only recently tried it and was a bit underwhelmed. Cracks the top 10 because I trust my friends and there must be more to it so I'll give it another shot.
9) Peter's Drive In - Mostly here for the iconic nature of the experience. While most like the milkshakes, a Peter's burger is my favourite part of the visit. I also like how the single is really a single plus.
8) Fatburger - My feelings about Fatburger fluctuate from time to time. I love the hand-made patty, and a single is way more than filling. Extra points for choice of complimentary fixings.
7) Five Guys - Like Fatburger, the Five Guys hand-made burger is awesome. I feel it's a bit more consistent and I love their basic menu. No "Hula Burgers". Just burgers.
6) Earl's - May have bounced off the list if they didn't commit to Alberta Beef, but the Earl's experience is always good because it's almost always a family event.
5) Regrub - Charging hard up the list. Again, often overlooked because of the fancy milkshakes, the Regrub burger is so so good, and so much better than that sweet stuff. I like the odd and varied patty sizes from burger to burger. You get the sense that the owners want you to feel like you're really sitting in the family kitchen eating a home made mama burger.
4) Smashburger - A nice addition to Calgary chains. Best part about Smash is that their burgers are so tasty. Maybe a bit salty for some, but their gimmick of "smashing" the patty really works for me. I find it to be the perfect size.
3) Thomsons - My annual stop at the Hyatt lounge for a burger during Teacher's Convention is a tradition with my wife (who is also a teacher) and me. Great burger, complimented by the best burger pickle around. What makes getting a burger even more special is they often sell out on the Thursday of convention. It's that good.
2) Clive Burger - I don't often hear Clive mentioned by many, but it's a must-do. Again, like Five Guys, a simple menu, so you know it's all about the burgers. Smallish, but totally filling burger and you always know you're getting 100% natural, antibiotic and hormone free Alberta Beef. You can taste that awesomeness.
1) White Spot - Despite the fact that I am usually about 15 years younger than most visitors to White Spot, this is my go-to and something I look forward to. My family knows that when dad gets to pick a dinner out, we're heading to White Spot. I love the Double-Double and the sauce and great pickles complete the epic experience. Call me old-fashioned, but if you haven't really hit this burger, make a point of doing so. It's also a big hit with my father-in-law and his senior's group.
South Street Burger Co. (just a bit too pre-fab for my tastes. Too focused on satisfying many tastes. Just make one good burger)
Burger Inn (constant location changes pushed this off the list. Was probably top three in the 90s)
McDonalds Big Mac (still the "go to" after a late night out)
Note that I have yet to try the following recommended Calgary spots - Naina's (although I hear their signature is a stuffed burger, possibly making them ineligible based on my criteria), Buchanan's (likely my next stop), Vagabond (the pictures and reviews have me very intrigued), Burger 320 (new on my radar, but recommended by many friends)
Bonus List - Top Burgers Outside of Calgary
In and Out Burger - one of the highlights of my trips to Vegas or California. Cheap and awesome.
Cheeseburger in Paradise - Waterfront Lahaina, Maui. Say no more.
McKeller Confectionary, Thunder Bay - the original greasy burger. Hometown version of the Coney Island Hot Dog. You probably gotta grow up with it to love it.
Dana Clara / Patti Fero Burger - my family always tells me that you can't find a better burger than at home, and every time they step up, they back that up.
I can not wait for the reactions and suggestions. There is no way that anyone reading this list will think that I've got it all right. Please feel free to comment with your feedback. Oh, and I bet you're all hungry now. See you at White Spot.