The Cannibal Cafe is Where Locals Go for Burgers in Vancouver

For the cynical traveler, Vancouver can just be an extension of Pacific Northwest stalwarts Seattle and Portland. Case in point, the funky and punky eateries that dot the trendy East Vancouver area of the city.

Located among like-minded business and near the community college, the burger-minded diner The Cannibal Cafe has walls lined with every rock band you listened to back in the day but forgot about because you are old and washed.

As I do with any city, I determined the best burger joint and since this popped up often and had the punk rock angle, this was my place. Then, it was within walking distance of some breweries and divey-drinking holes.

The burger was big, and intense I went with the Bacon Bad — Bacon & cheddar stuffed patty, applewood smoked bacon, Canadian cheddar, maple bacon bourbon jam, roasted garlic mayo, L.O.T.P. For reals, Canadians love their maple products.

Oh, Canada, indeed. #hamburger #vancouver

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And because I overeat while I’m traveling — poutine mac and cheese, because it’s POUTINE MAC AND CHEESE.

While you inhale your burger, you can read the walls.

Tastee Diner in Asheville Does Make a Tasty Burger

“That is a tasty burger.” — Jules from Pulp Fiction.

I do have to admit, after driving 11 hours through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, any burger would be the best in the history of hamburgers. This little darling found a proper home in my stomach.

This was the perfect burger at the time. I wanted something quick, no-nonsense and a burger I can devour in little time. I got to Tastee Diner 20 minutes before closing, so I was the lone soul to close out the place on a Monday.

Tastee Diner has been around since 1946, but went through a menu upgrade last year from a local restaurateur who took over ownership. More importantly, they kept the hole-in-the-wall aesthetic, no-thrills interior and long-time staffers.

The Burger made a few Top 100 hamburgers lists, so I had to check this off the list. The diner style burger with a local beer in a fun setting made it perfect.

While looking around the dining room with the vintage photos of Asheville, one thing stood out — a poster for the 1983 Burt Reynolds/Loni Anderson movie Stroker Ace. I don’t understand the connection. It shall remain a mystery.

For Hamburgers in Toronto, I Endorse Burger Priest

Go to any city in the U.S. and Canada and you’ll find a great selection of hamburgers to choose from. There’s plenty of research and Instagram photos to supplement your burger decision making.

With my research, I use a conscientious algorithm, similar to how Nate Silver determines the electoral map on FiveThirtyEight.com. I read the top travel and food websites and blogs and if a name is repeated, I’ll add that to my itinerary. I avoid TripAdvisor, Yelp and FourSquare ratings because they’re just ridiculously inaccurate. Their good for facts and inside information, but not helping you decide.

When it gets to feeding time, I’ll see which place is closest or convenient and head over there. It’s impossible to complete everything  on my to-do list, which I way I get bonkers reading food/travel material. There’s only so much eating you can do on a visit.

Which brings me to the one burger place I ate at in Toronto, The Burger Priest. The name alone sold me, even though there were no religious iconography at the joints.

The Burger Priest is a high-end fast food style burger in the mold of In-n-Out or Shake Shack. With 13 locations in Ontario and Alberta (I went to the one on Yonge Street near The Rolling Pin), the small chain relays on a simple menu with high-quality ingredients. No fancy toppings, it’s what you expect in a respected chain. Like In-in-Out, there’s a secret menu.

I housed my Low Priest (Beef patty, secret sauce, cheese, pickles, chopped lettuce, diced onions on a non-sesame seed bun). At the end I said to myself, “Well, I’m pretty sure I enjoyed that.”

My other places I picked out to try, but didn’t have time to visit included Holy Chuck and P&L Burger. I’ll will hit them up next time.

 

 

Cape Town Burger Battle — Hudsons vs. Royale vs. Engruna

Let’s talk beef shall we? With the influx of craft beer in Cape Town, the city deserves a hamburger scene equal to the task. While I am just one man with one stomach, I manage to indulge in three of the cities popular burger joints.

My favorite of the lot is a small, upscale chain in South Africa called Hudsons. With four locations in Cape Town, one in Johannesburg and one in Pretoria, the eateries serves mighty-sized hamburgers with toppings for all tastes. I went with the bacon jam with cheddar cheese because it has the words “bacon,” “jam” and “cheese” in it. As you can tell with the photo above, it was a lovely presentation.

The other options are The Rockabilly  (pepper crusted beef patty topped with chorizo,  jalapeno & dusted onion rings), The Rockafella (beef patty topped with 8 hour roasted pulled pork,  cheddar cheese & a fried egg) and The Badass  (Two beef patties, each stuffed with Habanero chili,  topped with Jalapeno jam, white onion & cheddar), which will also make you a fat ass.

Beer wise, they have their own house pale ale along with local selections from Jack Black, Devil’s Peak and Woodstock. For dessert, I had no other choice then to go with the Espresso Chocolate Mousse.

The Kloof Street location is centrally located around the corner from my favorite bar in town, The Power & The Glory, the famous records store Mabu Vinyl and the curiously named Labia Theater.

royale-burger-cape-town

An eight minute walk from Hudsons is Royale Eatery on Long Street. It’s right in the middle of scores of trendy bars on that street and Long Street. It’s a more traditional eatery with a cozy, shabby-chic interior. Like Hudsons, their variety of burgers and sandwiches made my head spin.

There’s El Burro (Beef patty blended with chorizo, chillies and coriander. Topped with mozzarella cheese, smoked jalapenos, roast tomato salsa and guacomole) and the Burgerac  (basted beef patty topped with white cheddar, chipotle sauce and an  onion & gherkin salsa). I went basic with the Royale with Cheese, whomp whommmmp. I needed to save room for South Africa’s national dessert, Malva Pudding.

Beer wise, they don’t mess around either with locale brewery favorites Citizen, Brewers & Union, Alliance and Saboteur.

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Last stop on the burger tour was Engruna located by the ocean in the Sea Point section. It’s a bit of a hike from the city center, but the area is the more upscale section of city where you’ll be close to the beach and find resorts, high-end shopping and nightclubs. You’re basically paying for the ocean views and cooling breezes.

In any event, Engruna kept on popping up on the “best of” lists in my research. Although I had eaten at Devil’s Peal Brewery, I went there to Engruna to sample more of the city’s craft beer. While I’m drinking, I see them bring out a burger and my mind went, “YAASSSSS, get it.” Thus I did. Of the three, this was the most no-nonsense burger — striving for simplicity over towering toppings. You gotta admit, that is a beautiful photo above.

Louis’ Lunch in New Haven Is Ground (Beef!) Zero For Hamburger Travels

It’s ridiculously simple, and wonderfully masterful — fresh ground beef cooked medium rare, cheese, tomato and onion on white toast. Adding anything else would be a crime against hamburger humanity.

Located near the Yale University campus in New Haven, Conn., Louis’ Lunch is a historic institution worthy of a 10-hour Ken Burns documentary. They invented the friggin’ hamburger for crying out loud.

As their website states: One day in 1900, a gentleman hurriedly walked into Louis’ Lunch and told proprietor Louis Lassen he was in a rush and wanted something he could eat on the run. In an instant, Louis placed his own blend of ground steak trimmings between two slices of toast and sent the gentleman on his way.

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One hundred years and then some later, Louie Lunch hasn’t much changed. Its one of the few places in America that hasn’t been franchised out, renovated or updated. It moved in the 1970s, but remained fully intact.

You have three gas broilers and an old-timey toaster behind the counter. The hamburgers are cooked sideways. Orders are taken on paper. No credit card machines. No garbage cans. A chalk board for the pie of the day and soda selection from local beverage maker Foxon Park.

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The menu: hamburger/cheeseburger, potato salad, potato chips, drinks, pie, coffee. Of course, don’t ask for ketchup because your dumb ass ain’t getting any.

The dining room can fit 20-25 people at a time. Ingrained in the wood are etching from generations. The individual booth with the desks can barely hold your small paper plates of food.

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If you get there at opening at 11am, you won’t find a wait like I did today. During warmer days and when school is in session, expect a line out the door.

As for the burger, it’s amazing. It helps that the place is a living museum. Two burgers, potato salad and soda is $18.

Tourist Hell — Shake Shacks Around the World

Shake Shack IstanbulShake Shack in Istanbul

I was reminiscing the other day about the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park in New York. “Hey, remember when we waited an hour in line for a slightly above-average burger and fries with a shake that makes you want to pass out afterwards from being full?” The line was so legendary that it had its own live webcam so you can see how long it would take.

That was 2004. Now, Danny Meyer’s cash cow is an IPO with locations in 10 U.S. states, D.C., United Kingdom, Russia, Istanbul, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. There’s a reason we went to war in Iraq in the 90s … freedom for Kuwait to get American burgers.

Here’s the thing. Places like New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and London are loaded with burger spots. While waiting in a 50-deep line (as below in London), tourists can look on their phones and easily find a superior burger.

Shake Shack in Covent Garden

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