When burger time rolls around, you want to waste as little time as possible in getting to your destination of choice.
This week’s Stratford Patch hunt went around to different restaurants to find out the lowdown on where the tastiest burgers in town are lurking so that when the craving hits, you know where to take it.
-- 2850 Main St.
Entering Jake’s on an empty stomach, I had to make a hard decision that would plague me for the rest of the afternoon -- avoid the assortment of fries and hot dogs and stick to the meat. I scanned the menu advertising real hand-dipped milkshakes, hot dogs, specialty sandwiches, chicken, fries and salads, and my eyes landed on the burger of the month. It was a BBQ Crunch Burger. There is also a featured shake of the month, and it is mango.
The turnaround was quick, although Jake’s is not a fast-food establishment. Every order is hand-prepared so that it is served fresh and hot and is never held under a heat lamp. For those seeking a prompt pickup, calling ahead or ordering on their website is encouraged.
The compilation served to me was a trifecta of crunch. I was impressed at the way the bun was crispy only on the interior with a soft, sturdy and flexible bun that was chewy inside but gave way to a toasted floor.
After breaking through the first wall, my teeth met directly with the homemade barbecue chips, stuck to the ceiling in tangy barbecue sauce. The chips offered a pillowy but crunchy texture. But what impressed me most about the BBQ Crunch Burger was the fact that the two beef patties were glued together with cheese. The burger itself, charred on the outside and tender in the middle, sat on a finely sliced bed of lettuce and tomato.
Bun N’ Burger -- 3696 Main St.
With my barbecue fix satisfied, I hit the Bun N’ Burger ready for a completely different taste.
I ordered a Russian Burger, which consisted of two patties served with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and a homemade Russian dressing. And like the burger’s namesake, its colossal frame mirrored the massive size of Russia perfectly.
The Russian dressing only added to its grandeur. The meat was not charred like the Crunch Burger, but was cooked thoroughly with enough attention given to the texture so that it remained moist.
The burger is also served on a kaiser bun, which in the long haul can be a burger eater’s best friend. Thick, durable and comfortable to hold, when served on a kaiser roll the grease is never likely to breach the bread and wind up getting all over your hands.
Bun N’ Burger, an original Stratford restaurant in business for seven years now, is not part of a chain, which adds to the charm and importance in Stratford burger lore.
Like Jake’s, Bun N’ Burger offers a whole menu of salads, specialty sandwiches and sides. Chicken and Angus platters are available for purchase. Bun N’ Burger also boasts a menu of seafood platters and is known as the home of the King Lobster Roll. I liked the unique additions of zucchini sticks, mini tacos and poppers on the side menu.
They are open on Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Calling ahead is also offered.
-- 940 Ferry Boulevard
Next I stepped way back in time, pulling up to Danny’s Drive-In for a double bacon cheddar burger.
Again, there were two patties stacked on top of one another. And what made this burger unique was the cheesy goo that seemed to permeate the meat from the top of the burger rather than in between the two slabs of robust meat. The cheese was very runny and yolk-like, and held everything together wonderfully.
Thick, stringy bacon strips lined the top of the burger and segued perfectly into a towering and chewy bun. The bun had a nice crackle to it on the outside.
Danny’s has been serving Stratford burgers since 1935. They are open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Make sure to try some of their new menu items -- lobster rolls, Carolina pulled pork sandwiches and Piled High Pastrami, which is served on grilled rye with mustard and sauerkraut, and is available Monday through Thursday only. In addition to burgers and dogs, Danny’s serves a full menu of sandwiches, platters, salads, sides and frozen drinks.
Wendy’s -- 1105 Main St.
One thing burger lovers everywhere have is the old standby, open for business when all of the other restaurants close down for the night. My last stop of the day took me to Wendy’s where I capped off a greasy afternoon with more grease.
The Junior Bacon Cheeseburger is my favorite burger from this fast-food establishment. Its compact size and economical advantage make it a quick yet satisfying treat. Think of the JBC as a slimmed-down version of the product offered at Danny’s. The burger is cut thin, and the lettuce rests on top. The Junior Bacon has a sweet bun, which practically melts as you eat it and will never get in the way of destroying your burger.
As I mentioned, Wendy’s is open late -- until midnight on Sunday through Wednesday and until 1 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
In my opinion, these are the players dominating the Stratford Hamburger Court.
Do you know of a spot in town to get a good burger? Tell us in the comments section below.