Freelance by Jen

Consider me the No More Tangles of your writing needs.

So, I have this amazing job working with amazing people doing amazing things. Which is mostly, you know, amazing, but sometimes, you know, intimidating.

Today, a casual assigned task was to “reach out to food bloggers” in the area about this incredible drop menu we’re doing for an upcoming movie.

Simple enough. Hahaha watch me SLAY this, world!

Except I couldn’t find any food bloggers.

I found people who covered food writing for magazines, but as far as an influencer known for food blogging here in Springfield, someone who just loved food enough to consistently write about it and give thoughtful, informed opinions, very possibly for no compensation, just didn’t turn up in my half-assed internet search.

And then a thought started pulling at me. First it was a little nudge, then it got to be more of an annoying poke, and then it was just an irritating whine like a swarm of mosquitos right in your ear.

“You know who loves food and thinks about food and treats every day like a food test and has food goals and food bucket lists and food missions? F$%*ING YOU DO.”

That’s not verbatim, but it’s really close.

And also, it’s true.

So I’m going to talk about the food love that is often overshadowed by my complete obsession with donuts.

My love of all things burger.

This has been an ongoing love for longer than even I know. If I had to guess, it started with my family’s restaurant, White Grill, and the absolute perfection of its loaded Whistleburger. I fully realized it as a major thread in the fiber of my being when I spent three weeks in Texas last November. My motel was right across the street from both a Whataburger AND Sandy’s, an old-fashioned hamburger stand with local-legend status (much like White Grill, minus the seating).

And so it began with this.

Clockwise from top left: Whataburger, Sandy’s, In-N-Out (double-double protein style), and the Wholly Cow organic, grass-fed food truck masterpiece.

On the whole, I have all burgers fully loaded save one modification – I eat them sans bun. I started doing this because I love bread like it’s my damn job, but once I start eating it, I can’t stop until I’m in physical pain.

So I try to avoid it.

But I digress.

I started with the basic Whataburger, based sheerly upon laziness. It was across the street.

I wasn’t super impressed. This was probably because I just went with the basic burger, and they didn’t put cheese on it. Very bland.

Next door to Whataburger was the iconic Sandy’s, so I thought, what the hell, and walked the extra 20 steps.

Now THAT was a burger. Delightfully thick, juicy, and absolutely unhealthy. It was no frills, but the flavor was mind-blowing.

I would end up returning to both places several times during my stay.

But then there was Austin’s Sixth Street. I was training for my job in the heart of this party tourist scene, but all I could see were burgers (Well, and Voodoo Donuts, which enabled me to cross a longtime obsession off my bucket list). Actually let’s throw in a donut picture right now while I’m thinking of it.

IMG_6945

Damn, that is one beautiful donut.

Anyway, so Sixth Street brought choices for days, and I couldn’t pass them up. As any serious researcher would do, I studied the burger places reasonably close to me and went down the list.

Jackalope was next, and they had me with this intro:

We serve up burgers consistently voted as one of the best in a city known for great burgers, as well as receiving national recognition for the excellence.

I had the CHIPOTLE BACON CHEESEBURGER, described as follows: housemade chipotle pimento cheese, bacon, pickles, and chipotle mayo.

It was, of course, an absolute delight. A juicy, spicy delight. I always order my burgers medium, and when they are TRULY medium, I get ridiculously happy.

After Jackalope came a surprise entry, Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill. IMG_2264

Talk about a breakfast burger deluxe! This was heaven! And that dipping sauce…the burger was so good I didn’t want to dilute the flavor with the sauce, but it was worth consuming. If memory serves, I dipped my lettuce in it. Or my butter knife. Or my face.

Doesn’t matter.

After that, it was a full-blown mission. I ate at least one burger every day I was in Texas. I cycled through Smashburger, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Larkburger, Buffburger, Stanton’s City Bites, and FM Burger and Bar. But I have to be honest – once I experienced Buffburger, I didn’t really care about anything else. It was burger perfection. I had the Avocado, the Truffle, and the Blue.

From left, top: Hopdoddy’s, bottom: Buffburger, Stanton’s City Bites, Larkburger

And then I got home, and started taking full advantage of Alamo Drafthouse burger perfection. Every day I get a beautiful lettuce-wrapped burger with avocado, bacon, and caramelized onion.

And I’m happy. Life is good, you know?

But then, Bair’s.

Bair’s is a local chain with only four locations…and a menu of 50 burgers.

If there was ever a challenge for me specifically that didn’t involve donuts, Oreos, or Poptarts, it was this one.

So it is that as of this writing, I’m at 18 out of 50 burgers.

The Conquered:

Jalapeño & Pepper Jack

Smoke House Cheddar

Black ‘n Bleu Burger

Blackened Bacon Boom-Boom

Spicy BBQ Burger

Cheesy Bacon Ranch

Blackened Bleu Cheese & Jalapeño

Bronco Buster

Pepper Jack & Bacon

BAIR’s Fried Egg, Bacon, & Cheese

Philly Cheese Steak Burger

Avocado & Swiss

Steak House

Bobby Bones Gouda

Taco Night

PB&J Burger

Bourbon

Hot Sriracha & Bacon

All have been amazing, although the PB&J bacon was the most surprisingly good (I don’t care for grape jelly, but this absolutely worked).

But all of these are only precursors of for the big finale…the one they call the Big Papa.

They don’t call it that. They actually call it…Bair’s Mac Daddy

At just under five pounds, this big guy is loaded with four one-pound burger patties covered in 16 slices of bacon and 16 slices of American cheese on our custom bun. Served with over a pound of fries. Man up to the Mac Daddy Challenge. $48.95

In my heart, I know that everything up to now has been in preparation for the biggest day of my life. I’m going to take that challenge. I’m likely going to fail. But it will be the most fantastically amazing failure of my life.

So if you’re looking for a local food blogger who seems focused on the most stereotypically American of cuisines, look no further. We can talk stadium dogs later, and donuts, and the intricacies of fair food.

I. can’t. wait.

In the meantime, I have a date with my daily burger to get to.

One thought on “On Becoming That Thing You Can’t Find

  1. Sue Novak says:

    Perfect

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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