Is it just me, or has Vancouver undergone a burger renaissance in recent years?
It seems like not too long ago, hamburgers were pretty much strictly fast food fare. You’d get your Big Mac or Whopper – with a hockey puck patty that had been frozen for who knows how long – and that was it. No one thought of burgers as gourmet. Fresh beef was unheard of.
Now, suddenly, everything has changed in Vancouver. Dozens of chain and independent restaurants are serving deluxe burgers made with fresh beef and served on artisan buns. It’s truly the golden age of the hamburger in Vancouver. There are almost too many choices. Which is why I’d like to hear from you:
Who makes Vancouver’s best burgers, the ones with the tastiest beef and best toppings? Share your pick by leaving a comment below.
But first, a little background: How did this whole burger renaissance start and what exactly makes a great burger?
Vancouver Sun columnist Randy Shore had a great article recently about Vancouver’s burger roots.
Apparently, the granddaddy of the movement is Vera’s Burger Shack, which opened its original beach location back in 1977. Believe it or not, way back then Vera’s was using fresh beef and serving hand-cut fries. With a dozen locations in the Lower Mainland today, Vera’s hasn’t changed a thing, except for adding hipper toppings like blue cheese and jalapenos. Here’s a YouTube video taken at Vera’s:
But wait a second . . . true burger historians might insist on going back even further. Iconic B.C. chain White Spot, which uses 100-percent fresh Canadian AAA beef, has been serving up burgers and fries in Vancouver since 1928, predating even McDonalds.
Relative newcomers on the gourmet/fresh burger scene in Vancouver include chains Fatburger, 5 Guys Burgers & Fries and Splitz, as well as independent restaurants Moderne Burger and Romer’s (both in Kitsilano).
In the end, making a great burger doesn’t exactly appear to be rocket science. It seems to come down to using fresh beef and cooking burgers to order. Great toppings – local cheeses, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, apple wood bacon, etc – also go a long way. And, of course, the bun is critical. These days, flimsy, flavourless, store-bought buns just don’t make the cut. A gourmet burger demands a fresh-baked bun that won’t crumble or soak through and sabotage your eating experience.
So what’s your pick? If you’ve got a favourite burger joint in Vancouver, please leave a comment below.