Charlie's Hamburgers, Folsom, PA


Burger Archive

About Me

My photo
No-Bull Burger Purist, born and raised in NJ, the heart of the tri-state area and home to the oldest (and best) burger joints in the country. I don't need all the frilly toppings, happy servers or trendy decor, just a good burger...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

RETRO REPOST: AJ's Pizza, Butler, NJ

This post is one of my "best of" and worthy of an annual repost...

Where: AJ's Pizza, Butler, NJ
What: The Mac & Cheese Burger
Build: 1/2 lb. 100% Black Angus beef patty,  homemade Mac & Cheese, 2 batter-fried onion rings, bakery fresh bun.
Comment: I tried AJ's on a tip I got from a woman my wife works with... she told us to check out the new burgers that AJ's has added to its menu on the back of a local coupon circular.  This led to me checking their web site and eventually placing an order.  I've had their Italian food before, the calzone w/ham and the cheesesteak stromboli are def above average so I thought we might have a shot at the burger being decent. Needless to say, I broke all kinds of golden rules by ordering a burger at a pizza joint, but hey, no risk, no reward right? It was great. No, no... I mean it's "order a second one" great. The mac and cheese is advertised as homemade and it tastes just that. The burger is great quality and the patty was cooked per my request, a perfect medium/rare.  When I saw their interest in my sandwich,  I cut a few small pieces for my wife and her father to try (the very audible "yummy" noises I was making amped-up their curiosity). You must to realize, for my wife to even "try" a burger with such strange (fattening) toppings, tells me AJ's is on to something here.  The cheese was not only smooth and plentiful, it was a bit sharp and tasted like "real" cheese. The elbow macaroni was done so perfectly it launched a few "high school cafeteria" memories. I thought that 2 large batter-dipped onion rings was a bit of a strange added topping and one that should be reserved for BBQ cowboy burgers and the like, but they actually added just the right amount of crunch and it all worked well together.  I'm already planning a trip back for this very same burger.  10/10

 My Wife's Grilled Chicken Panini - Delicioso! Just look how fresh the ingredients are.....  very nice!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Elevation Burger, Montclair, NJ

Where: Elevation Burger, Montclair, NJ

What: Double Cheeseburger

Build: Two 3.2-oz. patties (100% grass fed beef, ground on premises), lettuce, tomato, raw onion, pickle, cheddar cheese, hamburger bun. I also got two more single burgers with just raw onion, pickle, and a touch of mayo. 

Comments: Elevation Burger is definitely on par with other fast-casual burger joints. The burgers coming out of Elevation's kitchen are very good burgers; they are fairly coarse ground, loosely packed burgers, loaded with tasty fat that renders down to a delicious old-fashioned flavor. Although I'm sure the Elevation people would argue this point on many levels, I kept running parallels with Jake's Wayback Burgers. The size of the patty, the flavor of the meat, the aroma, and even the freshness of the buns are all very similar. One thing that stood out – they don't serve processed cheese (that means no American cheese for all you dim bulbs). Cheddar was my cheese of choice, and it was very tasty with a slight sharpness to it. Another plus for me was the fact that they cook the burger to your liking; you don't have to settle for a well-done burger. And for all you Five Guys fans, I don't care if it's a tiny bit juicy, it's still well done!  

All in all, this is a very good burger and was definitely worth our visit, even in the pouring rain. (My future son-in-law asked for my daughter's hand in marriage this night, so it was def a great night all around).  9.4/10

Saturday, January 25, 2014


The Tide is Turning....

McDonald's is under the impression their 1/4 pound burger is good enough to compete with fast-casual restaurants such as Five Guys, Smashburger, Umami Burger, Shake Shack, Jake's Wayback Burgers and Giraffas*, just to name a few. 

In fact, they are currently testing a Build-Your-Own (BYO) Quarter Pounder in Laguna Niguel, CA and Illinois. I don’t believe this is a rip-off of the Burger King order system, nor do I believe it is a retaliatory move to combat BK's latest "Big King" burger (the Big Mac copycat). No…this for me is without a doubt McDonald's first move to countering all the damage fast-casual burger restaurants have bestowed upon them. And it's not just the BYO order style that leads me to believe this; it's the pricing changes they are implementing. You see, the McDonald's BYO burgers all use the regular Quarter Pounder patty, but now they will be priced at $5.79, boosting their prices to that of typical fast-casual pricing, seeing as a 7.5 oz. BYO burger at Smashburger is $5.99 and Jake's Wayback Double Burger is $5.49.

McDonald's BYO burgers will offer 20 toppings and sauces (big F'n deal…too little, too late if you ask me). Mickey D's is about 20 years behind the times with their order process. Have you ever noticed how confusing the Value Menus, Kids Meals, and Extra Value Meals are? If you pay more to order a "large-size" Value Meal, is it still a good value? Ugh!
Yes siree folks, the tide is turning slowly, but surely. If this is not the beginning of the end for fast-food establishments, it's most assuredly the beginning of MAJOR changes for the fast-food industry, and I doubt they will ever be the same again. Where will they end up? I have no idea, but I love riding the fast-food burger coaster.

Internet Photo - Experimental Build-Your-Own Quarter Pounder.

*If you haven't heard of Giraffas, you probably will in the near future. The Miami-based Giraffas began as a small burger joint in Brazil when an engineering student (Carlos Guerra) bought it 30 years ago. He kept the name and expanded it into one of the country's largest burger chains. Three U.S. locations opened in Miami in 2011, more are under construction, and they’re franchising beginning this year. The menu focuses on burgers, priced from $7.90 for a Grilled Picanha Single up to $11.90 for the Giraffăo Filét Burger (with cheese, bacon and egg), but they also offer pasta, fish and more. Don't think they'll survive in the U.S. market against such burger giants as McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's? Think again - they are used to competing against the “big three,” as they have been competing in Brazil for years. I'm keeping my eye on this franchise.

It's the little stuff....

Burger King is now DELIVERING in 16 states (no, not jersey) with a minimum order of $10 and orders must be placed between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. with delivery times and prices varying by location.
Internet Photo

Check out these current franchise prices...

Thinking of starting a business? 
May I suggest one of the following?

A & W Restaurants Inc.
Burgers, hot dogs, root beer
$912K - 1.62M
Boardwalk Fresh Burgers & Fries
Burgers & fries
$174.5K - 626K
Burgers & chicken
$120.55K - 338.5K
Burger 21
$414.5K - 832.59K
BurgerFi Int'l. LLC
Burgers, hot dogs, fries, onion rings, custards
$460K - 995K
Carl's Jr. Restaurants
$1.2M - 1.74M
Carla's Sandwiches & Burgers
Sandwiches, burgers, sides
$192.5K - 479.75K
Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc.
Burgers, fries
$240K - 1.24M
The Counter Custom Built Burgers
Build-your-own-burger restaurant
$750.5K - 2.52M
Culver Franchising System Inc.
Frozen custard, specialty burgers
$1.44M - 3.08M
Elevation Burger
Organic burgers, fries, shakes
$383.5K - 771.5K
Fatburger North American Inc.
$498.1K - 850.59K
Freddy's Frozen Custard LLC
Frozen custard, steakburgers, hot dogs
$461K - 899K
Burgers, chicken, biscuits
$1.14M - 1.53M
Jake's Wayback Burgers
Burgers, shakes, fries, onion rings
$172K - 381.5K
Burgers, chicken, salads, beverages
$1.02M - 2.18M
Mooyah Franchise LLC
Burgers, fries, shakes
$334.95K - 532.2K
Smashburger Franchising LLC
$560.5K - 909.5K
Sonic Drive-In Restaurants
Burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, breakfast, beverages
$1.11M - 3.25M


Send me a comment if you think you know what burger this is...  

HINT:  (it's in Montclair, NJ)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Castle is Missing from Disneyworld? White Castle.

Where: White Castle, Nanuet, NY
What: 2 Double Cheese Burgers, 4 White Castles (plain hamburgers) 
Build: White Castle patties, reconstituted diced onion, dill pickle slices, ridiculously fresh steamed buns, American cheese.

Comments: This marks my 174th review and I'm finding it hard to believe it has taken me so long to comment on White Castle, home of my very first hamburger. Let me be clear – I am not reviewing White Castle, but merely commenting on its greatness. Far be it for me to possess the audacity and ego to think I am worthy of criticizing the one and only hamburger legend. And White Castle truly is a legend. Not only did this burger joint invent the concept of fast food, they also saved the meat industry from years of horrible “unsanitary” press, by marketing their spotlessly clean facilities. They portrayed purity as well as cleanliness, hence the name White Castle, and so the meat industry along with the burger market would never be the same – kudos to one of the most important meat industry innovations of all time. 

There is not all that much that needs to be said about White Castle burgers, other than if you've never had them, you NEED to try them. And for all of you who do not have a WC in your area, please do not judge them by their frozen burgers – they suck.

I'd also like to mention WC's breakfast sandwiches. WC is the only fast food establishment I know of that actually cracks and cooks fresh eggs! And while in Indiana, my visit to WC for breakfast yielded a bologna, egg and cheese sandwich. Holy Sh*t was it good. 

A personal recommendation: order the Double Cheeseburger. The flavor and texture are in a class by themselves. In fact, the best word I could think of to describe this tasty nugget is "creamy.” You may think that's strange, but trust me, it will make sense the instant you bite into one. I order my WC burgers with extra onion and pickle, and for the record, this is the only burger in the world that I enjoy ketchup on. ‘Nuff said. 10/10 hands down.

Internet Photo

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dunkin Donuts, Wayne, NJ

Where: Dunkin Donuts, Wayne, NJ
What: Turkey, Cheddar & Bacon Sandwich
Build: Sliced Turkey topped with Cherry Wood Smoked Bacon and White Cheddar Cheese with Ancho Chipotle sauce.

Comments: The following statement is taken directly from the "bakery sandwiches" section of the Dunkin Donuts website:

"Try one of our freshly-made Bakery Sandwiches. With varieties like BBQ Chicken, Ham & Cheese, and Turkey Cheddar Bacon, freshly-made never tasted so good!"

I'm having trouble with their use of the words, "freshly-made.”  Perhaps I can help my readers by re-phrasing this statement to read much more accurately:

"Try one of our highly processed meat and cheese sandwiches freshly microwaved by a person who has absolutely no interest in making you (or anyone) a sandwich."

Yeah, that about covers it. Now to be fair, if you take out my comment about the DD worker, you are still left with a sandwich that is so terrible, it's hard to believe that the Dunkin Donuts corporate office is not embarrassed by this abomination. Seriously, I can walk into a Costco or a BJ's and buy a box of a dozen or so frozen sandwiches that are all much better than the puke DD is spewing. And, the best part, they are charging almost $5 a pop for this crap! 

The run down: The turkey comes directly to you in a cryopak bag; the bacon was cut so thin it was transparent, and the Ancho Chipotle sauce resembles a diaper stain. The cheese was the only thing that was palatable. The roll was decent – crispy crust and tasty, albeit very dry.

(Check out the Dunkin Donuts glamour shot taken from their website vs. my actual pic.) 

So the question arises, "who the hell told Dunkin Donuts they should be making food”?  They made millions (quite possibly billions) just serving coffee and donuts. That's what they do best; and I can fully understand why they'd want to expand and try new things, but sandwiches? And crappy sandwiches at that? I wonder how the hell this crap ever passed their QC. Seriously, someone in a test kitchen over at Dunkin had to have said, “oh yeah, that's good, let's start selling this.” Really? CRAP, CRAP, CRAP, EPIC CRAP FAIL. No rating. (I don't rate crap.)

And for my Italian readers, remember, DONUTS spelled backwards is…STUNOD.



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pompton Queen Diner, Pompton Plains, NJ


Where: Pompton Queen Diner, Pompton Plains, NJ
What: Green Bay Burger
Build: 1/2 lb. Angus patty, smoked bacon, grilled tomatoes, breaded deep fried onion straws, cheddar cheese, and brioche bun.

Comments: An occasional customer of the Pompton Queen Diner (PQD), I stepped out of my comfort zone and ordered off the specialty burger menu. I find the burgers there (as with all PQD food) to be consistently fresh and comprised of the highest quality ingredients possible for a quick-turnover diner. Among the 650 diners in NJ, (more than any other state in the US) the PQD attains true royalty status.

Just look at the first photo of this burger... I ordered it medium rare and it came out perfecto, (as usual). Although the bacon was more leathery than crisp (and I'm truly bored to death with the now trendy brioche bun), the quality and flavors of the combined ingredients exceeded my complaints.

As for the brioche bun craze, enough already! Give me an old-fashioned sesame seed bun, a good quality pretzel or a Kaiser roll any day. But even with these quirky pet peeves of mine, the Green Bay is a stand-up burger you can count on.

Side note: I cut my pickle and stuffed it in there, I suggest you do the same.  9.1/10

Internet Photo

Internet Photo