I’m on a quest to find the best burgers Spokane has to offer, and I’ll admit up front that I have pre-existing biases. We all do. I’ve lived in Spokane for nearly 20 years, so of course I’ve had both good and bad experiences at local restaurants in the past. But I always want to like what I’m eating, so I’m going to give every restaurant a fair chance to make a good impression.
What Makes You An Authority On Burgers?
Because I have a mouth?
I mean, honestly, that’s about it. I’m not a professional food critic, nor do I have professional cooking experience. I do have a lot of cooking experience (including cooking burgers), but it’s not something I’m formally trained to do.
Take my advice or don’t, I don’t really care. I’m just trying to find cheeseburgers that I like to eat, and I’m bringing you along for the ride because it seems like something other people may be interested in.
The Rules For Ordering
In order for a restaurant to be eligible for review, they must serve a burger whose patty is at least 50% beef, and the burger must have cheese.
At each restaurant, I will choose the burger that is most like the burgers at other restaurants. Sure, I like burgers with bacon, or blue cheese, or that have bison meat patties, but not every restaurant has those things, and I want to be able to make “apples to apples” comparisons wherever possible.
- I will choose the burger that most closely resembles a basic cheeseburger.
- If I am given choices on the number of patties, I will choose the smallest number.
- I will leave off all optional additions, except lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise.
- If I am asked how I would like the burger cooked, I will ask for “no pink.” If I am not asked how I would like the burger cooked, I will not say anything about it.
- Whenever possible, I will choose to accompany the burger with standard French fries. If standard fries are not available, I will take the next closest thing.
- I will never set a restaurant up for failure by ordering a burger that I know I will not like, or which includes condiments I know I will not like. For example: I know I do not like pickles. When I know in advance that a burger will come with pickles, I will ask that they be left off.
How Scores Are Calculated
The exact formula used to calculate the score for each restaurant is a secret, but I can tell you that I’m using Emily O’Mara’s basic scoring scheme (which she outlines in an episode of Freakonomics Radio) as a starting point.
I took each of her four sections—burger, fries, price, and service—and broke them out into more detail, giving each additional subsections, which are individually scored. Each subsection is weighted, and each primary section is weighted, with the taste of the burgers being the most important factor by far.
This does mean that a restaurant with a phenomenal burger could have a low score, if the other aspects don’t rate well.
What Makes A Good Burger?
That’s a tough question to answer, because everyone has their own individual preferences.
For me, a good burger is cooked well done (there is no visible pink), but is still juicy. The exterior of the patty should have visible browning without being burned. In my opinion, the meat is the reason I’m eating a burger, so the other ingredients should compliment it, not obscure it. I like a soft, simple bun that is lightly toasted.
I don’t have a specific set of ingredients or condiments that I like on my burgers, and quite frankly, I can enjoy one that is nothing more than meat and cheese on a plain bun.
What cheeseburger would be complete without fries? There’s something about putting salty, fried potatoes with greasy, cheesy burgers that creates a sort of gastronomic bliss. So as part of each review, I’ll also be trying the fries to see whose are the best.
If a burger doesn’t come with fries, that’s… Unfortunate. And unfortunately for the restaurant in question, it will negatively impact their total score.
“Fries are salty and delicious and no one in history has ever eaten a burger without them.”
– Gene Belcher, Bob’s Burgers