I had many good recommendations for my first burger, but in the end, it came down to more than the meat.  As much as “burgourmands” debate the pros and cons of this place’s patty versus that bistro’s beef, in the end there were a few things that narrowed my choices.  Mainly, I didn’t want a huge, crazy burger. On Saturday, the husband indulged me as I scoped out some final choices. Yes, I went and just looked at people eating burgers.

Both the burgers at Shake Shack and the Burger Joint looked “normal” and had received the most rave reviews from both friends and the Internets.  In the end, the appeal of the getting a good burger at a diner-like dive hidden in a fancy midtown hotel could not be beat. On Sunday, we returned at what I thought would be a non-totally-crazy-nutso-hour-crowd time (3 pm) and snagged a table.

I had the hubband wait on line and instructed him to order a burger medium-rare “with the world.” Yeah, I read the posted how-to-order sign as saying “the world” when any sane person would realize, funny font or no, that it said “the works.” In any case, he knew what’s what and brought me back:

first burger

I cut it open and took my first burger bite. The “works” I should mention, includes lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and mayo. My first bite I must admit was mainly a taste of toppings. But further bites made me realize that the hub was right: Burgers have a lot to do with toppings. Did I like it? Yes. Was it very different from a good turkey burger to me? No, it was not.

I was sort of disappointed: I expected it to be a  world-changing beef bite. But either I still don’t have the palate or I just don’t see the big deal about burgers. It was good, yes, but if it changed anything in my belief o’ beef, it was that burgers in and of themselves may never ever make their way into a regular food for me, and that 34 years may be too late to get into hamburgling.

Last in my journey was to find out: Would I, in competitive eating terms, suffer a reversal?

While I left a few bites on my paperish plate, the happy news is that I managed to keep it all down. I think I may be able to stomach anything now! Backyard squirrels, watch out.

When I think of hamburgers, I think of J. Wellington Wimpy, friend of Popeye and moocher of burgers. He loved burgers so, he would beg, borrow, and even once committed identity theft to procure his favorite treat. Ask my dad, he’ll know just what I mean. For Wimpy, any burger would do. But for me, I am looking for the best.

Now, there are plenty of recommendations for great burgers in NYC: The blog “A Hamburger Today,” for instance, has an entire section just on burgers in NYC. And I’ve been looking around for “best burger” lists and have found:

To name a few of the very, very many. Man. Grilled vs. griddled? Fancy shmancy or plain Jane? It’s too much to take in. So here’s where you can help me out, my meat-eating NYC readers. I’m asking, not what you think is the best burger of all, but What burger would you recommend for someone’s first ever burger?

Think of me as a foreigner, from a burger-free land where not even McDonalds have managed to sprout. You want to amaze me with this American tradition, this miracle of ground beef and bun. Where do you take me?

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