I Like Mine With Lettuce and Tomato. . . .




 The cheeseburger.  Is there anything so uniting and yet polarizing at the same time?  Everybody loves cheeseburgers.  What about the tree-hugging vegans, you ask?  They love cheeseburgers too, but the burger is made of bulgur and whey and twigs, and the cheese is made of soy, whatever that is.  The top-selling vegan product today is the veggie burger.  That’s a fact.  Look it up. And when you do, let me know what you find out, because I’m using the word "fact" very loosely here.


The point is, everyone loves burgers. There you go, we’re united. So if we can agree that everyone loves burgers, why are they so polarizing? Because your favorite burger probably isn’t my favorite burger. And that bothers you. That’s not true? Well, how about this: My favorite burger isn’t your favorite burger.  That does bother me.  


We Americans are passionate about our burgers. We don’t think that such and such is the best burger in town. We know that such and such is the best burger in town, and to disagree with us is a personal affront.  


In the town where I grew up, Menlo Park (and this applies to Palo Alto as well. This dismissive wanking motion is for the $10 burger at the Peninsula Creamery), you are either a Dutch Goose person, or an Oasis person.  A simple "Oasis or Goose?" status report on my Facebook page elicited 70 responses, several of which invoked the name of the Lord, others openly hostile to the nonbelievers. I was born and raised an Oasis kid (Thanks, Dad!), had a brief dalliance with the Goose during college (the fact that they were less than vigilant when it came to checking I.D.s probably had a lot  to do with it), before settling back down with my first love.  Some people consider this blasphemous, but I don’t agree.  It isn’t the first time a young man was led astray by booze, and it certainly won’t be the last.  I was young and experimenting; it never meant anything. That’s not really true, if I’m married to the "O", the Goose is my "gumar." I love them both. 


Today marks five weeks since my arrival in Sacramento, and in that time, I have eaten many of the fine burgers that the city and surrounding area have to offer.  Does this qualify me to pontificate on the best burger place in town?  Most assuredly not, but I’m gonna do it anyway.  


Let me preface this by saying that we have a thriving burger scene in and around our state’s capital.  Every burger I’ve tried here has been in the good-to-very- good range. Nary a dud in the bunch. These rankings are based on a single visit to each venue, so if someone was having a bad day, that’s unfortunate.  Also, I am taking other factors into account in my rankings.  Ultimately, the winner is the best burger, but fry quality and cheap beer can serve as a tie breaker. Enough with the niceties, let’s get some people riled up.


Seventh place: The Squeeze Inn. Sorry, but that cheese skirt is superfluous. I don’t get it.  If I wanted a disk of burnt cheese, well, I wouldn’t, ’cause I’m not 7 years old.  Worse than that is the bun on which it’s served. Heavy and unyielding, it’s about twice as much bun as you need. And the long lines and short hours didn’t help.  We got there at 6:30 p.m. and had to take our burgers to go because they were getting ready to close. It’s a shame, because if put on a good, soft bun with a reasonable amount of cheese, the burger may have been the winner.   


Sixth place: Jim Dennys.  I’m a sucker for the old school diner setting, and the burger was solid.  Unfortunately, it was cooked to death.  Well beyond well done.  Pink was a distant memory. The chili cheese fries were really tasty, however.


Fifth place: Jamie’s.  After finding out that Jamie’s had been featured on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," I was really fired up to try it.  I love the venue itself, top- notch food in a dive bar setting is tough to beat.  The burger was good, but it was really overshadowed by the phenomenal garlic steak sandwich.  That thing is amazing. A bit pricey, but if you want a bourbon with your burger, this is your spot.


Fourth place: The Habit.  This was probably the best burger bang for your buck.  At just $2.95, you get a high-quality burger at fast-food prices.  The fries and onion rings are both top notch, and they have three kinds of peppers at the condiment bar.  I wasn’t sure whether I should even include this because it’s a fairly large chain, but a great burger is a great burger, and I’d never tried it before moving here.


Third place: Nation Wide Freezer Meats.  I don’t think you could come up with a worse name for a burger joint. What, "Ivan’s E. coli Eatery" was taken?  The name aside, the burger was one of the best I’ve had.  You can’t go wrong with ground Harris Ranch steakburgers. The quality of the meat shines through, and that’s what will bring me back. The steak fries and chili were disappointing.


Second place: Murder Burger.  I know, it’s called Redrum Burger now, but I’ll always call it by its real name. I had a lot of friends at UC Davis in the late ’90s, and they introduced me to the burger: "So good, it’s to die for." I went back on the way to the Bay Area, and was very happy I did. The burger was big enough to split and was a cheesy, oniony epiphany.  Also, the fries are outstanding; thin cut, crispy, but moist on the inside. Murder Burger would have been the best if it weren’t for …. 


First place: Suzie Burger. Or, as I call it, the Truth.  This is the only place I went to twice. Their burger is close to perfect. Moist, juicy and cheesy on a soft, buttery bun.  Free toppings include grilled mushrooms and onions, and jalapenos (I got all of them).  The second time I added bacon, which was well crisped and hung out the sides.  Oh my, it was good. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. To top it off, their fries are fantastic. Thin-cut slivers of potato with the skin still on ‘em. I don’t know that I’ve ever had better. Throw in $5 pitchers of Pabst, a couple of flat screens, and an old school Chevy parked out front, and we have ourselves a winner. 


If I missed your favorite, or you feel it wasn’t done justice, feel free to voice your displeasure at lindol@gmail.com.



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March 28, 2010 | 8:03 PM

Hey Lindol. I gotta take you to Ford’s. Hop on yer cruiser and meet me at the house and we’ll ride over there.

March 29, 2010 | 10:07 AM

Is Ford’s still good??? I know it used to be, and it’s near my Sacto home… But I heard they changed ownership and the quality suffered… I guess I’ll have to give it a try again….

March 29, 2010 | 8:21 AM

My vote: Gotta try Ford’s.

March 29, 2010 | 8:25 AM

My next burger will be a Ford’s burger. Thanks for the heads up gentleman.

Article Author
March 29, 2010 | 8:33 AM

I’m with Susie or Jamie’s. Ford’s is great but the buns are too dense for my taste. Awesome onion rings, though!

March 29, 2010 | 9:12 AM

Hey Lindol, Suzie burger gave the serious runs.

March 29, 2010 | 9:44 AM

The Goose has gone downhill, but got to love those deviled eggs – The Oasis is good but not great. Both places are better than anything in Sac, and much much cheaper, even being in Menlo Park. As a Menlo Park transplant, I just dont understand how Sacramento restaurants charge MORE for their food than similar restaurants in the Menlo, Palo Alto or San Francisco. And BRIX in Menlo is the best burger I’ve had, nothing in Sacramento comes even close – It’s huge and under 6 bucks. It would cost $15 bucks in Sacramento.

Fords used to be AMAZING, in the 80-90′s but not anymore, and waaaaaaaaaaay overpriced. I think they were sold to a new owner, and have gone downhill.

Susies is mediocre at best, cheap meat, cheap buns – big price. I suspect the author of this article is related to the owners or a friend….they should not be on ANY list of good burgers in Sac.

Nationwide is very good, but overpriced. $15.00 for a burger fries and coke is insane.

It’s sad, Sacramentans have such low standards….so far I have yet to have a great burger in this town – but I have not tried the Squeez Inn, I wont wait an hour in line to get a burger.

March 29, 2010 | 10:11 AM

I agree about Suzie’s… The Haines Bros seem to just want to capitalize on their restaurant imprimatur from 33rd Bistro…

Their Riverside Clubhouse is similarly affected – it just SCREAMS ‘L.A.. restaurant consultant’, and there’s a certain affectedness that is just irksome, across the board — in their wait staff, their food, and their prices…

My ex and I went there twice — once for my birthday — and the food was AWFUL…. I wrote a review for the Bee at the time which was exceptionally witty but depicted this loathesome place for the fakery it was… Seems to get a good crowd though…. I guess they don’t go there to actually eat….

March 29, 2010 | 11:19 AM

Jim, I couldn’t agree more about the eggs at the Goose. There are two kinds of deviled eggs in the world, Goose eggs, and everyone elses. I have dreams about them when I’ve been gone too long. You lose credibility when you claim Brix to be the best burger in Menlo. That place was below average at best, and the fact that it has been out of business for two years supports that statement. If anyone besides your sainted self thought they were any good, maye they would have lasted more than a couple years. As far as my being related to or in someway connected to Suzies, I can assure you that I am not. I had no dog in this fight, I went in with an open mind and eager palate. If anything ,I was pulling for the Squeze Inn, as I’d heard about how good it was when I was still in the Bay. The rankings above are my honest assesment. As far as Suzies price goes, cheesburger, fries and a drink for $6.39 seems pretty reasonable to me. I wish that you could recommend a burger that still existed. Until then, I will keep searching. Thanks for reading and taking the time to offer your opinions, however misguided they may be :-)

Article Author
March 29, 2010 | 8:01 PM

Lindol I moved from Menlo two years ago, but I can assure you they did not go out of business because of their burgers. From what I hear they moved because of the cost of rent in Menlo park …the place was always packed when I went there. They still have a location in Cupertino

March 29, 2010 | 9:55 AM

Whoa- testament to the true nature of burger wars. You’re pretty fired up!

March 29, 2010 | 10:05 AM

Suzie Q’s — overpriced and not all that great…

My fav for the authentic burger is Nationwide — haven’t been there in a while, but when I worked downtown it was a REGULAR spot — that and JIM DENNY’s… Nationwide, though, had great big slabs’o beef and cheese slathering on the meat, and those FRIES — absolutely to die for — hence our nickname for the place…. BUD’S MEAT HUT….

March 29, 2010 | 11:45 AM

Get the meal deal at Nationwide, and they take $3.00 off the tab bringing the whole thing in at about $10.00. You can sub a shake for the drink or onion rings for the fries, at no extra charge-love it!

March 29, 2010 | 10:56 AM

Why did you even place The Squeeze Inn if you didn’t like it?

March 29, 2010 | 11:21 AM

I ranked all the burgers I’ve tried since I moved here. And, honestly, it was the one that inspired the piece. Also, I never said I didn’t like it. I just like it less than the rest.

Article Author
March 29, 2010 | 11:18 AM

I just discovered the Village Drive-In in Tahoe Park. The double deluxe add pastrami, add bacon will induce a blissfull 3 day coma. This place is truly the definition of hidden gem.

Also, I like how this post is tagged patiotism and religion. Was a tax-freeTea Party burger supposed to be on the list?

March 29, 2010 | 11:26 AM

Thanks Ali, that sounds amazing, I look forward to checking it out. As far as the tags, all the tasty burgers got me into something of a fervor, I may have been a wee bit over dramatic.

Article Author
March 29, 2010 | 11:56 AM

You should try Hefty Burger in West Sac. Awesome burgers and they have an addable pastrami option.

March 29, 2010 | 12:55 PM

Its gotta be either Squeeze Inn or Awful Wallys.

April 6, 2010 | 7:51 PM

Awful’s hamburgers are not much bigger than a regular burger and McD’s. They are just too small.

March 29, 2010 | 1:41 PM

I know it’s bit outside the Sacto scope, but how about an ikedas tasty burger? The western is one of the best burgers around.

March 29, 2010 | 2:35 PM

Ikedas! My absolute fav.

March 29, 2010 | 3:39 PM

My heart was broken when they closed the Ikeda’s on Folsom Blvd. I don’t get up to their location (Auburn?) very often. Loved their burgers…although the red onions kept the memories going a little too long (TMI?)…

March 29, 2010 | 8:02 PM

The Auburn location is the original and it is going strong. Worth the trip if you buy a pie too..

March 29, 2010 | 3:08 PM

Awful Wallys, Ford’s, Willys, Hefty Burger, and Ikeda’s. I’ve got some work to do.

Article Author
March 29, 2010 | 3:23 PM

I give Willys a big “meh” for burgers. Im curious if you dig it.

March 29, 2010 | 8:02 PM

Willies is barely edible now that Bill, the original owner sold it – even before though it was no better than in-and-out

March 29, 2010 | 3:22 PM

I go to Nationwide for the Steak Sandwich, not to be missed. However its a pricey meal.

April 14, 2010 | 10:30 PM

Hey slackjaw look me up Rod_Burton@hotmail.com.

March 29, 2010 | 3:30 PM

I just discovered Village Drive-In, you have to try that place.

March 29, 2010 | 3:51 PM

That’s two for Village Drive Inn- now I need to try it too.

April 6, 2010 | 11:21 AM

Seriously. It may not be the best burger ever, but it harkons back to childhood or something special. Although repeated trips for the double deluxe add bacon add pastrami will render you to a child-like state.

March 29, 2010 | 6:44 PM

McDonalds 39 cent burger on the pillow bun with a bitty squirt of kecthupmustard and that lil dillish pickle bit. Yummy.

March 29, 2010 | 7:00 PM

I do love the rehydrated onions, but it doesn’t quite make the cut.

Article Author
April 4, 2010 | 12:52 PM


March 29, 2010 | 7:37 PM

Take two trips to 14th & R. The burgers at Burgers & Brew and the Shady Lady are both excellent. I liked the burger at One Speed in East Sac, too, and Awful Wally’s is a wonderful treat for those who like venturing into industrial neighborhoods for lunch.

March 29, 2010 | 9:53 PM

I’m definitely with Burg here. Burgers & Brew offers an awesome burger! The array of foreign beers also adds to how amazing it is. I also LOVE Willie’s Burgers (I believe on 16th and Broadway?). It is located by the Tower Theatre. If you haven’t had it… you should!

March 29, 2010 | 10:12 PM

Do you people ever get out? Try Flaming Grill for the best burgers, bar food and beer anywhere in this area.

March 29, 2010 | 10:39 PM

Looks like this might have to be part 1 of a 3 part burger etravaganza. I’ve got a lot of eating to do.

Article Author
March 30, 2010 | 3:42 PM

Wow, a lot of great ideas in the comments…I’m a Sacramento native, and I haven’t even heard of some of these places! Definitely check out the Flaming Grill. I’ve never had a “normal” burger there, but they have some exotic burgers if you’re up for a challenge…like the lion/antelope mix I ate there a few days ago.

March 30, 2010 | 8:42 PM

At least seven burgers in five weeks? Slow down, buddy!
Flaming grill is decent. Go for the buffalo burger there- more flavor and better for you.
Nationwide is my favorite. The folks behind the counter are solid people, and the highlight of my day is when they bring they bring that greasy brown bag.

March 30, 2010 | 11:23 PM

grew up on Ford’s, but if you want a decently-priced burger at 2:30AM, try Willie’s on 16th/Broadway.

second on Ikeda’s in Auburn.

April 7, 2010 | 9:56 AM

Fiction916, you know what’s good. Your suggestions trump the competition.

For burger joints outside Sac, no trip to Reno would be complete without a stop at the Awful Awful under the Nugget. $4 gets you a large burger and a pound of fries. One could honestly split it with a friend.

April 1, 2010 | 9:15 PM

This article made me very hungry. I will also add that it was very well-written and enjoyable. Love the part on the Oasis vs. Goose. “I was young and experimenting; it never meant anything.” Classic. Keep ‘em comin’, Lindol!

April 4, 2010 | 10:15 AM

My girlfriend wants to know where the first burger in the slideshow at the top of the page came from. The one with all the crisp cheese :)

Nice article, Next time we are in Sacramento, we know where to eat.

April 4, 2010 | 12:37 PM

Thanks John, the burger pictured is the world famous “Squeeze with Cheese” from The Squeeze Inn.

Article Author
April 4, 2010 | 10:40 AM

great, everybody knows the mainstay places that EVERYBODY GOES TO. But the best wasn’t even mentioned – try Jay’ Cafe on 10th and J. A Captiol favorite for nearly 30 years now.

April 4, 2010 | 12:54 PM

We’re Sacramentans — we gotta eat…

April 6, 2010 | 11:57 AM

Hmmm.. I would’ve given Nation Wide Freezer Meats the #1 spot and Jamie’s #2. In my opinion, those are the two best, although the others are definitely notable!

April 6, 2010 | 12:05 PM

Ford’s – Famous Burgers – The Broiler (in that order)
Ford’s is the best, hands down. I’ve never had anything like it.
I don’t know if the Broiler is still down there on K Street…. haven’t been for a long time but I remember it being fantastic although it does not qualify as a “hamburger joint.”
If you go to Famous Burgers at 65th and Folsom, get the ‘Famous Burger’, medium. This isn’t so much a Cheeseburger (though it is, in fact, one) as a local specialty sandwich, but it’s amazing as well.

April 6, 2010 | 12:24 PM

Nationwide Freezer Meats is my No. 1.
Suzie Burger – Awful, tried it once and swore it off to never step foot in the place again.
Murder Burger – Great name good burger, not great
Squeeze – Was unique in old location, now just a cheesy burger
Jamie’s – Good burger, but much more on the menu/board to waste time on a burger

Profile photo of dl7
April 6, 2010 | 1:51 PM

Another to try – Lou’s Burgers on Watt Avenue. Gotta love a burger joint that shares a sign with the shop out back. So the sign really looks like “Lou’s Burgers, Radiators & Mufflers”

April 6, 2010 | 5:31 PM

First off, it doesn’t matter how much you pay for a good burger. Go inexpensive, Willie’s on 16th and Broadway, my #2 and #3 agree with Nationwide Meats. #1 is Formoli’s on J St, rich but great!

April 7, 2010 | 7:36 AM

I came to disparage the miserable Suzie burger, but I’ll stay to tout the mouth watering, lip smacking, so-delicious-I-could-die Lou’s burger.

Just grab a buger and fries with a coke, sit out front and watch the suckers go by on Watt avenue.


April 8, 2010 | 9:43 PM

I worked in Menlo Park in the 80s and 90s. Often hung at the Goose after softball games and threw peanut shells on the ground but have to say Oasis burger was my fav! I haven’t tried any of the spots mentioned in Sac (lived here 2 years). Which is extremely sad since my niece works at The Squeeze! One of my fav burger joints in the East Bay was Nations. They make a great burger and are open late (or at least used to be).

April 10, 2010 | 6:43 AM

What about In and Out for a decent, inexpensive burger…always reliable.

April 13, 2010 | 10:49 AM

agreed. On the cheap you can’t beat In’n'Out

April 10, 2010 | 5:54 PM

MMM…Brix Burger….I think I’ll drive to Cupertino to get one….where’s the Tom-Tom? Cuz I have no idea where the hell that is…def not on the peninsula!

April 20, 2010 | 1:31 PM

lindol: If you’re going to go for round 2 on this little experiment, you really must include Cookie’s on 56th and H. They been around for a long, long time. Ostrich and buffalo burger choices for under $6. So good!

April 20, 2010 | 1:32 PM

Oh, and the burgers at The Shack on Folsom across from Socal’s are not to be missed.

April 20, 2010 | 3:08 PM

Thanks Honey. . . .I’ll check em out. So many burgers, so little time.

Article Author
April 24, 2010 | 2:45 PM

I agree that Suzie Burger is a fabulous old school burger and the free toppings are a treat. I know they got a bad rap when they opened but they sure improved. Remind me of Five Guys burgers which are coming to Sac soon.

April 25, 2010 | 12:59 PM

I guess one day I’ll actually have to try a Suzie Burger. I’ve been there many times but never eaten one of their burgers because I got hooked on thieir Philly cheesesteaks….Delish!!

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