Bar noshing doesn’t get any better than a big, cheesy gut bomb of a burger. It’s the anytime accompaniment to a cold pint at your favorite watering hole. My six month odyssey of sampling bar burgers at South Sound bars, taverns and pubs continues today with five more burgers you have to try before you die.
Here are the bars featured for this burger series:
Tuesday: Powerhouse Brewery, Cliff House, Matador, Blazing Onion and Beach Tavern.
Wednesday: Engine House No. 9, El Gaucho, Katie Downs, The Parkway, Ram
Thursday: Crown Bar, Harmon, Bite Restaurant, West End Pub, Cheers South Hill
Friday: Asado, Maxwell’s, Pacific Grill, The Hub, The Right Spot
Here are my next five picks for bar burgers worth your time and extra napkins:
11. The Bison Burger ($10.95)
Where: Engine House No. 9, 611 N. Pine St., Tacoma, 253-272-3435, www.ehouse9.com
Bison can be a lean meat, but the Engine House’s version is succulent. A touch of char and perfect grill marks nudged the flavor, along with a thick layer of melted blue cheese crumbles that turned out to be a natural mate for bison. A crunchy toasted bun held a slight smear of tangy burger sauce and was topped with crisp iceberg, white onions, tomatoes and pickle chips. The tater tots on the side were unremarkable, although tasty in an elementary school lunch sort of way.
12. El Gaucho Burger ($16)
Where: El Gaucho, 2119 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253-272-1510, www.elgaucho.com
This tall tease of a bacon cheeseburger made me swoon a year ago, but a recent visit yielded a too dry half-pound ground prime Angus tenderloin patty. The burger comes on a substantial roll and is a towering burger with smoky, thick-sliced, chewy bacon, mildly spiked pepperjack cheese and not enough of a smear of the outstanding aioli that comes with a peppery tongue tease of chipotle heat. Red onions, tomato and (too thick a layer of) iceberg lettuce finished the burger.
13. Katie Downs bacon cheeseburger ($9.99)
Where: Katie Downs, 3211 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253-756-0771, katiedowns.com
The grill-marked bacon cheeseburger came on a grilled bun. It was moderately juicy, but the beefy flavor was understated for my palate. Chewy, smoky bacon upped the flavor. The plate was garnished with assemble-your-own toppings of shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and onions. The tomato and chile-spiked relish pushed the burger onto my noteworthy list with its crunchy, slightly spicy and sweet sourness that aligned nicely with the bacon.
14. The Parkway bacon cheeseburger ($7.50)
Where: The Parkway Tavern, 313 N. I St., Tacoma, 253-383-8748
The daily specials are worth a visit alone: cheeseburgers with olive tapenade or locally made goat cheese. The standards here are done well, too. The bacon cheeseburger towers in layers: a sesame-studded bun with a half-pound patty topped with thick, chewy bacon, gooey melted cheddar cheese, thick rings of crisp white onions, a beefy slice of tomato, and a layer of still-cold green leaf lettuce. The lightly grilled bun was finished with just a swipe of mayo on the bottom bun. One quibble: A sturdier bun would hold up better to the final bite.
15. The Ricardo Burger ($12.99)
Where: The Ram Brewery Restaurant, Tacoma, Puyallup South Hill, Puyallup Sunrise, Lakewood and Lacey. For addresses and contact information, visit www.theram.com.
The Ram’s Ricardo is a Cuban sandwich twist on a juicy hamburger. The burger started with a soft, squishy long roll with a thick, meaty, juicy burger patty topped with melted Swiss. (Note: my burger came with significant pink without my asking.) Pork gets double duty here. Chewy, salty ham was layered on top of the burger, and a pile of shredded pork topped the ham. Crunchy horseradish dill pickle chips hit my nose before my mouth. Dijon mayo added a layer of creamy decadence.