The Hamburger-less City, By Mara L.

Another note on “Food Inc.”: Robert Kenner, the filmmaker, says that hamburgers are his favorite food. This reminded me of a strange aspect of my life here in New York. When you come from Europe, you expect the US to be the country of burgers. But there are, as far as I can see, almost no burgers in this city. Of course, there are bound to be many, but they are not part of the way of life that I’ve been initiated to, by my architecture and art friends. I quite agree with Kenner, burgers can be great. They are certainly not part of my home-country’s diet. But I had a formative hamburger experience as a young student visiting Cambridge (that is, UK’s Cambridge, not MA’s Cambridge), an absolutely perfect burger at a bar in a pub, shared with my brother. There I learnt: burgers need not be fast food!

After several years in Manhattan, I declared that I finally wanted a hamburger. My friends took me to the Corner Bistro at 331 West 4th Street. I saw the appeal (the attempt to be ‘real’ even though this is Manhattan), but I didn’t return. Too crowded for me, and too much as if we were all pretending that we are in a run down pub somewhere in no man’s land. Click here and here for reviews…

But the more I travel in the US, the more I realize that hamburgers are a reason to travel. As soon as you leave Manhattan, it’s actually quite easy to find really good ones. I’ve made a habit out of eating burgers in hotels, for example, at the Eastern Standard Kitchen in Boston’s Commonwealth Hotel, or at the Grille 700 in Baltimore’s Marriott Waterfront.

If I had to choose, my all time favorite hamburger location is perhaps the Park Grill Lounge at the LA Intercontinental. If you go for a late lunch, the atmosphere is almost serene, and the burger is delicious.

So, for me, the desirable hamburger places seem to be outside of Manhattan. Perhaps hamburgers fit better with the kind of ‘normalcy’ of the traveling worker that, at times, I am.