OGDEN — Without fail, when I’m at my hangriest, nothing quite satiates like a big, juicy cheeseburger.
The beef (or buffalo; and no, turkey doesn’t count), the cheese, the bun, pickles, tomatoes — I guess I don’t really need to do a play-by-play on how they’re made — but the cheeseburger and all its meaty, cheesy glory just has a way of killing cravings like nothing else.
What goes into a good cheeseburger? For sure, quality beef and cheese, a good bun and fresh vegetables are important. Uniqueness, novelty and a good sauce are also plusses. But it’s more than all that. There’s a certain indefinable quality at play. Cheeseburgers are all made from the same basic ingredients, but they certainly aren’t all equal. All I can say is I know a good burger when I taste it.
So as a connoisseur, I thought I’d do you all a favor and make a list of my five favorite burgers that you can eat in and around Ogden.
Here are the ground rules: These are burgers available only inside of the Standard-Examiner’s coverage area, which essentially includes Weber County, the northern two-thirds of Davis County, and Box Elder and Morgan Counties. No chains allowed — there’s only one spot where you can get these.
Also something to keep in mind: This is simply one man’s opinion. And this opinion is coming from a man who’s devoured approximately 10,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches throughout the course of his life, and enjoyed every one of them.
Without further ado, my five favorite Northern Utah cheeseburgers, in no particular order:
• Kirt’s Family Drive Inn, the basic cheeseburger
This is the most basic offering on the list, but basic is good. Kirt’s is located at 1974 N. Washington Blvd. in North Ogden. It’s one of the last true, family-owned drive-ins you can find around these parts, and for my money, it’s the best. Kirt’s has been open for decades and hasn’t changed any since I was a kid, which is 30-plus years ago. It’s a charming spot with some cool history, which you can read about inside the restaurant. The Kirt’s cheeseburger is just meat, cheese, pickles and onions on a bun with the restaurant’s special sauce. They say consistency is key when it comes to restaurant success and Kirt’s is the ultimate example of that. (Side note: If you like hot dogs, Kirt’s footlong is absolutely not to be missed.)
• Shooting Star Saloon, the Star Burger
Here’s another place where the atmosphere is as good as the burger. The Shooting Star Saloon, at 7350 E. 200 South in Huntsville, opened in 1879. According to some folklore, it’s the oldest bar west of the Mississippi River. You can go in, shoot some pool, listen to Johnny Cash on the jukebox and feel as though you’re stepping back in time a couple of decades. The Star Burger has a knockwurst on two beef patties, grilled onions, melted cheese, lettuce and tomato, served on a grilled bun. It also comes with potato chips. And don’t bother adding or subtracting ingredients, the burger comes the way it comes. No special orders, people.
• Union Grill, the Tennessee Jed
The Tennessee Jed is available at both the Union Grill on 24th Street and Grant Avenue, and at the Roosters B Street Brewery and Taproom on B Street in west Ogden. Both establishments are owned by longtime Ogden restauranteurs Pete and Kym Buttschardt. The Tennessee Jed is layered with smoked beef brisket, BBQ sauce, grilled onions and pepper jack cheese. It’s big and messy, a real fork and knife type of burger.
• Maddox Drive In, buffalo burger
The buffalo burger at Maddox Drive In, 1900 South U.S. 89, Perry, is another basic burger — aside from the buffalo meat. There’s definitely a different taste with buffalo and that’s part of why I like this burger. It’s different, and you’re not going to find it anywhere else.
• Burly Burger, the Mr. T
In my estimation, Burly Burger prides itself on three things: quality, size and originality. You can get some tasty, giant, unique burgers at this place. Each comes with a one-third-pound patty that is a mixture of ground brisket and chuck. The gourmet burgers are named after celebrities deemed “burly” in stature. “The Farley,” named after actor Chris Farley, is topped with boneless buffalo chicken strips and blue cheese dressing. “The Paul Bunyon” is topped with a beef frank, cheddar cheese, and grilled onions and mushrooms.
My favorite is the Mr. T. It’s topped with a mound of pastrami, swiss cheese and burly sauce. I like to get it with jalapeños and grilled mushrooms.
So there you have it, Ogden’s five best burgers. And I’ll gladly hear any other recommendations.