Food Observations

A blog for eaters

Archive for the tag “burger”

Phil’s BBQ

I’ve been to most Phil’s locations over the years and RB is definitely my favorite! It also helps that it’s really close to my office. Love the full service bar area and monthly rotations of beer of the month. I’ve ordered many things off their vast menu of BBQ goodness. Your mileage may vary on what you order however. Always excellent are their baby back ribs and chicken dinners. I never visit without ordering their excellent mac salad. Among the best I’ve put in my mouth! I also really enjoy the “El Toro” Sandwich. A mound of deli thin sliced tri-tip.

I was not impressed by their boneless style meats, like the “rib-less chick-less” plates. They taste dry and overcooked. The only upside is it’s easy to eat and you don’t need a shower afterwards. The caesar salad I had was just average. Most recently I tried “The Philibuster”. I had high hopes for this one but it didn’t quite deliver. The half pound beef patty had a nice grill flavor; the bun was very dense with a leathery skin. The overall mouthfeel was too dry. They should have added BBQ sauce or something (it was served on the side). Probably won’t order that again.

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen

Great trip to Las Vegas last March! Dinner the first night was at Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen at the Linq Hotel. Such a fun place with an infectious vibe. Everyone was ordering Trashcan Nachos but I went for the Bacon Mac & Cheeseburger! Voted best burger in Las Vegas by Seven Magazine and winner of New York City Food & Wine Festival’s Burger Bash. This masterpiece included crispy applewood smoked bacon, six cheese mac & cheese, onion straws, LTOP, super melty cheese & donkey sauce, all stacked on a garlic-buttered brioche bun. This one definitely required some serious jaw articulation. It was like a rock concert between two buns. Should have been served with a drop cloth.


About once every five years I enjoy a nice Big Mac from McDonald’s! Fortunately my office is near the Rancho Bernardo Mack Donald’s which is pretty nice inside. Sadly our Ramona location continues to sit like an empty mausoleum.

Way Point Saloon

Consistently excellent burgers at Way Point Saloon in Ramona! Their menu features around 10 or so thoughtful and creative specialty burgers. Made with massive half-pound premium beef patties, served with choice of side. There’s about 3 or 4 that are my favorites and I rotate among them each visit. This time was the venerable “Maple Bourbon Bacon Burger”. Finished on the flattop with a brown sugar maple reduction and then piled high with maple bacon, frazzled onions & jalaps, plus smoked cheddar. Great side choices too! I usually stick with the beer-battered fries, onion rings or tater tots in this instance. All pair perfectly with their tasty house-made “fry sauce”.

Haunted Hamburger

Haunted Hamburger seems to be one of the more popular restaurants in Jerome, AZ. The views here are absolutely stunning, that I can tell you! I ordered the “Southwest Sourdough Burger”. Includes bacon, pepper jack, green chilies, grilled onions, & guacamole. The guac made it tricky to handle and a bit messy but it was delicious nonetheless. Crispy, buttery sourdough, which I love, and a perfectly grilled, hot, juicy beef patty. The onion rings were excellent. Beer-battered hot & crispy. Whenever I’m on a trip I always seek out the local brew fare where I happen to be. I had a very nice “Roadrash IPA” from THAT Brewery in Cottonwood, AZ.

Par Lounge and Deck

A hidden gem on The Par Lounge “expanded” menu is a selection of new “Smash Burgers”. I recently tried the Classic Double and it was outstanding! Two 1/4 lb Angus beef patties, smashed; a good amount of silky melted American cheese, caramelized onions, shredded iceberg lettuce, pickles, maters and their house-made secret sauce. I had to take two showers after this one!

Harbor Reef Restaurant

We spent three extraordinary nights recently in Two Harbors on Catalina Island. Not a darn thing to do here and that’s how I like it! Such a charming little town. Only one restaurant though so it’d better be good! We ate at Harbor Reef each night and we enjoyed it. The only other meal alternative in Two Harbors is to microwave a frozen pizza or burrito at the neighboring market LOL. The menu right now at Harbor Reef is quite limited. Maybe it’s the season, maybe it’s the ‘rona. Most likely both! Anyway, two soups, no salads, a few heavy sounding hot appetizers and around five main dishes. Over the three nights my wife and I had tried them all. The bar opens at 4:00 pm and dinner service begins at 5:00 pm. The bar area is really nice and fills up in the evenings. The restaurant side is nicely decorated and fits the feel of a place called “Harbor Reef”. The banquettes leave something to be desired though. All of the staff we encountered here were so friendly and genuine.

On the first night I played it safe and ordered a burger. Comes with the standard burger set and fries. I recommend adding the bacon. It was a nice amount and was overall very tasty, even the fries. Second night I ordered the red wine boneless short ribs. Comes with broccolini and mashed taters. I was expecting a more traditional braised style short rib that was fork tender. The version here was grilled medium rare and sliced for presentation. It was decent, but kind of tough. Needed a steak knife. The taters were really good and hot with a rustic texture. Broccolini was perfectly cooked and seasoned. Although the dish was beautifully presented, I probably wouldn’t order it again. 

Night 3, I went for the interesting looking pasta dish! The menu calls it “Herb Cajun Chicken Pasta Linquine Pasta”. Apparently they want you to really know that this is a pasta dish! There’s a lot going on with this one, including artichoke hearts, broccolini, maters, chicken, etc. I’m pretty sure they put broccolini in everything here. Unfortunately the linguine was somewhat overcooked and all broken up. Despite the pasta dish being labeled as “Cajun”, there was no discernible spiciness to it, although it was richly flavored. The menu desscription curiously noted “garlic croutons” as part of this dish. I wasn’t sure if this was some sort of toast point thing or literaly croutons like you’d get in a salad. Regardless, it was not included in my dish so I’ll never know.

Badas Burgers

Food trucks seem to be all the rage lately; kind of like Birria in SoCal. An absolute standout in this particular culinary arena on wheels happens to be Badas Burgers! One of the food groups I dearly adore is the craft artisan burger. You know, the kind that has to be served with a drop cloth. Well, Badas Burgers food truck does not disappoint. In fact, they set the standard! Unfortunately, like many other small businesses right now, they have had to close temporarily due to staffing shortages. I certainly wish them all the best and look forward to enjoying another one of their fine burgers.

Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks

Excellent “Bleunami” burger at Islands in Carmel Mountain Ranch! Blue cheese dressing, lettuce, mater, red onion and blue cheese crumbles. Despite the sloppy construction, it tasted great. Paired nicely with an order of their exquisite Truffle Fries.

Grub Burger Bar

Excellent “You’re My Boy Blue” burger at Grub Burger Bar in Carmel Mountain Ranch!

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