As I’ve done in the past, I wanted to talk about a few out of state burgers I was recently able to try for any of my readers that like to have an idea of what else is out there. Over July 4th weekend we took a trip to San Diego, where I was able to try a couple burgers. One of them was planned, and didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, while the other last minute choice ended up being a welcome surprise.
My unplanned burger meal comes from a place we spotted in the Gaslamp District called The Hopping Pig. Knowing we had a burger meal planned for the next day, we tried to find a nice place where we could maybe order something light, and dare I say healthy? I know this is a shocking thought, but after several days of eating limited selections at Sea World and the Zoo I was longing for something a bit better. We walked up to the place that seemed pretty cool upon first peak, and had an interesting sounding menu, so that’s all it took. This was more or less a simple gastro pub with cool lighting and a good beer selection.
As I said the menu had some intriguing items, and I was all set to order something different, when I realized that 3 people at my table were all ordering a great sounding burger, the Hopping Pig Burger with a patty mix of pork and beef, cognac mushrooms, pepper jack cheese, caramelized onions and roasted bell pepper aioli. So of course I caved and got it too. The dry flaky bun was really good, and well-proportioned to the patty. The meat was of very good quality, cooked well, juicy with subtle bacon and onion flavors throughout. The mushrooms also had really good flavor and stood out in the mix. It was a small burger, but good sized overall.
The sweet potato and garlic parmesan fries were both really good; cooked well, and very flavorful. The house made ketchup was really good with the garlic parmesan fries. This turned out to be a great surprise burger meal considering I did zero research coming into it. I really don’t know what else is around the Gaslamp District, but I do know you can’t go wrong with this one. This burger is only $11 on the menu, which is very reasonable considering the same thing in Vegas could cost you $15 or more. They also had a variety of aged cocktails on their menu that change regularly with availability; we tried a couple and they were all great.
My planned burger meal was at Hodad’s, a place that’s been featured on Triple D, the Travel Channel and all sorts of places. I didn’t do any research at all into the place ahead of time, but figured it would be decent as it was on almost every San Diego burger list and many locals recommended it. We chose the downtown location since we heard it’s larger, less busy and more approachable. Busily decorated with license plates, skateboards and stickers, it’s a loud and informal place. There are several booths, high tops and a couple larger communal tables in the middle. We heard some great music in the time we were there including Alice in Chains, Pantera, Metallica and a few others.
Their menu features pretty much just burgers and fries, although there are a couple other items you can order. I wish someone (the waiter) had told me exactly what I was ordering because the double cheeseburger I ordered was ridiculous and way too large to eat. I had to pull out most of the raw onion circles and a full thick slice of tomato to come close to biting through it properly in one bite. It had really good flavor, but it was just too much. The patties weren’t too large, and not of the greatest quality beef, but better than your average fast food burger. Add copious amounts of cheese, pickles, tomatoes, onions, two different layers of bacon, really good bacon at that, and you have quite the mess. The bun was too thin and wimpy for all the crap in this burger; you really need the paper wrap to hold it all together.
The fries sucked; they reminded me of crappy frozen fries from a cafeteria. They were more like wedges with that icky batter, and didn’t do anything to accompany this mess. I gave it my best attempt but wasn’t able to complete this meal. I came fairly close, but I don’t think I would have felt too great if I had finished it, and I certainly would have gotten grief from everyone at the table. I wish I had known about the silly size of this thing so I could have ordered a normal burger and been able to focus solely on the flavor and not the novelty of the whole thing. I’m sure the size and ambiance are the main reason that this place ends up on most San Diego burger to-do lists, because you’re not really coming here for a high quality meal. Don’t get me wrong, the burger wasn’t bad, I was just a little turned off by the size of the thing. $11.75 for this monstrosity with fries isn’t too bad considering how much food you get, but I’d rather spend $8.75 for the single. So if you’re into the novelty and checking out a place that appeared on Diners, I’m sure this is fine, but if you want something more consult Google.