morning afternoon and you’ve just rolled out of bed. Your head is pounding, your mouth is dry and you open the blinds, introducing your hangover to the sun. Wrong move. There is no cure, you tell yourself. There is simply no cure for this mental and physical agony.
And then you receive a text from your friend: “Burger Joint at 3pm.” You swim through the crowds swarming plaza Serrano, following the neon sign. You are saved.
It is said that once you’ve eaten your first steak in Argentina you are part of the cult. Well, we have the same idea at play here, but on a Palermo-specific scale. Once you’ve eaten your first Burger Joint you’re totally in with the barrio’s burger lovers.
Let me explain, in a city where meat grilling eateries run amok, you’d think the novelty of an American-style burger hashery would be short lived, however trendy it may be. Well not here, my friends. Far from it. Burger Joint is the pioneer of fast food in Buenos Aires, and from personal experience, it hands down surpasses any other cheese draped ground chuck I have dug my teeth into.
It is that place that everyone mentioned to you when it first opened in February 2013 or when you arrived in Buenos Aires. It’s the New York-inspired burger heaven that you’ll agree to go to for lunch instead of embracing the local vibes in a porteño restaurant, because “no but seriously” they say, “you just can’t judge until you’ve had one”.
OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD, they say.
And so you go, and there is no turning back. As you walk in, you are hit by an explosion of colors, smells, sweet beats and buena onda. It is a piece of brunch (and dinner) paradise: Palermo Soho at its finest. Everything about it is hip; from the staff to the tips jar to the graffiti on the wall to the aluminium dish in which your mouth-watering medium-rare beef is served.
You go to the counter and you look up at the simple menu, scribbled onto some slabs of cardboard, and you start drooling. How can a burger place make a selection of combos so hard to choose from? Who knows, but they sure did a good job. Here’s the low down of the seven juicy meat patties that come with double-fried papas:
TEVEZ – provolone cheese, peppers, chimichurri – it’s like biting into an all-inclusive asado. The Argentine dream.
JAMAICAN – pineapple, cheddar, pancetta, peppers, tomatoes, love, garlic, honey mustard – At first sight this is a very adventurous looking combination but it 200% works, even with the pineapple, but mainly because of the pancetta and melted cheddar.
BLUE – Roquefort, caramelized onion, sun-dried tomatoes, Portobello mushroom, arugula – This burger reigns the menu IMO. The strong cheesy flavor mixed with the sweetness of the onions and sourness of the mushrooms and tomatoes makes for a gob smackingly, delicious-tasting, chemical reaction.
MEXICAN – jalapenos, tomato, guacamole, hot hot sauce, onion, cheese – It took me two bites to realize that this latino-inspired jewel was a tad too much for my sensitive taste buds. The beef, guac and cheese combo nears perfection but the hot hot sauce pushed me over the edge. However, spicy-food lovers tell me it’s orgasmic so next time I’ll just know to order without the salsa.
AMERICAN – bacon, cheddar, BBQ sauce – simple but so delicious. Melted cheese is always going to be a win.
CABRA – goat’s cheese, honey, black pepper, arugula – like the Blue burger, the cheese and onion combo is on point. Yet another culinary killer.
VEGETARIAN – veggie burger (chickpea, Portobello mushroom, caramelized onions and tomato), guacamole, arugula, sauce – I know what you’re thinking. Why come to a burger restaurant if you’re not going to eat the meat? Well, this burger defies all low expectations of fake carne. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. When the veggie burger flavours mix with the wet textures of the sauce and guacamole, your taste buds will be sent into a pretty sensational culinary fury. (*Vegetarians, stop reading* – it tastes even better with two slices of bacon on it. Sue me.)
Each is better than the other; kinda like watching a Victoria’s Secret fashion show but with more carbs, where it’s the melted cheddar and pancetta that have you drooling rather than the assets of a goddess. But if we’re gonna have to choose one, ok two, then let’s just say that the Blue is Adriana and the Jamaican is Doutzen.
So, you finally make your choice. It’s a tough one, I know, but trust me you won’t regret it. You order the full combo, always (with a soda or local BsAs province brewed beer and fries) for 90$ or 100$, take your receipt and give your name. You take a seat, outside if there’s room (forget it if it’s on a sunny weekend afternoon, you’ll have to be strategic with your friends in terms dishing out the tasks. One vultures around for a table while the other gets in line to order) and you wait.
And wai- *Burger Joint hipster guy shouts out your name*
YOU RUN, grab all the sauces on the way (yep, all three: homemade curry ketchup, honey mustard and herby mayo) and you proudly take the aluminium platter back to your seat and guard it with your life until the very.last.bite.
Naturally, despite the licking, your hands are sticky, covered in curry ketchup and you have a bit of herby mayo on the corner of your mouth.
Cue in the napkins.
Ah, but wait. Spoiler alert: Argentina doesn’t do napkins. They do plasticy pieces of not-very-imbibing-at-all wannabee tissue. This is my only critique, but it is pretty irritating and needs to be said so hear me out. The Argentine napkin is everything but absorbent. Truth be told, it is slippery paper, and wiping my face on my sleeve does a better job of rinsing myself of ketchup than these pitiful squares of waxy paper. They really, really suck. Pun not intended.
Back to the important stuff: papas. The Burger Joint fries deserve a special mention. They are cooked not once, but twice, for a perfectly crisp-outside and fluffy-inside finish and if you’re not hungry enough for a whole BJ menu then I suggest you at least try these because when dipped in any of the three special sauces, you’ll be coming back for more.
So, there you have it. If this doesn’t drag you to Jorge Luis Borges 1776 then all I can say is that I am sorry you won’t get to experience the succulently filling mouthfuls of tasty goodness.
It’s affordable, it’s delicious, the bread is homemade, the meat is perfectly cooked, the papas are double-fried, I would have the sauces on their own and the beer is local. I am yet to find an equal contender on the streets of Buenos Aires.