Columbia SC · Crestview FL · Myrtle Beach

Best of Restaurants: Hamburgers & Hot Dogs

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs are simple, but only a few are really outstanding.  Here is a list of my favorites from around the South.

Cheeseburger from Hamburger Joe’s in Myrtle Beach

Cheeseburger

Bacon Cheeseburger from Smashburger in Columbia, SC

Hot Dogs from Chris’ Hot Dogs in Montgomery, AL

Cheese Coneys from Coney Island in Crestview, FL

 

 

Charlotte · Restaurants

The Cowfish

thecowfish_logo

Are you looking for an eclectic cuisine that fuses two well loved foods into one delicious dish? No? Nor was I. I just wanted to try food at a place called Cowfish. So glad we did!

We wanted both burgers and sushi, of course, so we opted to try the mini burgers of the week for our appetizers and each got a fancy sushi roll for lunch.

10704193_10152975906231886_5179270256866891718_n

The Burgers of the Week happened to be blue cheese burgers. Dustin was not a fan of blue cheese, but still managed to down two of them. They were cooked well, and very juicy. I loved them, but they were a little drippy (which all delicious burgers should be.) The Cowfish sauce was tangy sweet mayonnaise and the slaw was divine, even to someone like me who is usually pretty indifferent to slaw.

cowfishfiletroll

My sushi roll, The “Prime Time” Filet and Lobster Roll,  was one of the best things I’d ever had.  And clocking in at $22 for one roll, well it should be.  But, I’m telling you, one is all you will need.  It is very huge and quite filling.  The inside was comprised of buttery lobster and crisp, fresh cucumber matchsticks.  Atop this were rare (yet in my case, I asked for medium) strips of filet mignon and strips of smoky slices of portabello mushrooms that were panfried in the juices from the steak, then tossed in truffle oil.  This tasted like bacon!  Bacon veggies!  Brilliant!

cowfishspicytuna

Dustin chose the Blackened Tuna Roll.  Inside this is delicate lump crabmeat, gently mixed with cream cheese to make a delicious, light salad with a slight crunch from the tempura flakes. Topping this are strips of blackened tuna, a dollop of guacamole and a fresh sliver of jalapeno.  Talk about the perfect bite!  Everything was fresh and delicious.

cowfishapplewonton

For dessert (yes, we did) we shared an order of Apple Pie Wontons.  Holy Moly.  Homemade apple pie filling encased by a wonton wrapper and flash fried.  As if that wasn’t enough, they serve it with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream that is surprisingly light and airy and drizzled with a caramel sauce.  You can’t really go wrong with a fried wonton, but this one was so rich, with the crispy wrapper and the apple pie filling was sweet with just enough tart to balance.  It was plenty big enough to share.

The restaurant is much bigger than it appears from the outside.  We even sat on the patio and it had plenty of heaters out there to keep us warm.  Our service was amazing, we lacked nothing during our visit.  We will be back soon!

 

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Recipe

Coney Island Burgers–Copycat

Ask and ye shall receive!  This fun project started with a Facebook posts to my friends back in Crestview, Florida.  I begged them to give me some ideas about what might be in the sauce from those irresistible burgers we love from our hometown dive:  Coney Island!  The replies were varied and numerous, so I wrote them all down on a piece of paper and headed to the kitchen to experiment.  After a bit, I had what I think is a pretty decent copycat for folks like me who crave that greasy goodness but live too far away to do anything about it on the regular.

Be warned, I’m going to give you every step I did.  You decide if you need to do every.single.one.  At first I thought if I had the sauce down, I’d be fine, but turns out each family member had their own version of what was important to them about that burger.  So, I’ve replicated it in its entirety as best as I could.

First, I suggest getting your mise en place.  That means get all of your ingredients and cooking utensils ready.  Learned that on Top Chef.

 

The Sauce

Disclaimer:  This is not exact.  I did a lot of adding and off the cuffing to get the consistency I wanted.  I will perfect and repost.  I can tell you next time I will make the sauce a day or few hours ahead of time to give the spices time to marry.  Learned that on Top Chef, too.

Mix this well and set aside:

  • 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water (add more if needed)
  • 3 Tbsp. mustard
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper (more if needed)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 shakes Louisiana hot sauce

 

The Meat

I found that having a thin patty is important.  So, I used a patty maker to really get it thin and even.  You may want to spray it with Pam, mine did stick after a while and it took a minute to peel it off.  I could also see plastic wrap working.  You can get one here:  Hamburger Press from Harbor Freight

Here’s a picture of mine:

image_18275

4d2ff89abf86d0ea76273d60fc956570

The Onions

Teeny Tiny dices.  Dice it finely and then run your knife through it again.  (Boy, that spoon has seen better days.)

The Method

At Coney Island, they credit their decades-old grill with being the secret to their addictive burgers.  So much so that when it broke, they lamented over the new one they had to buy, that was not seasoned as the old grill.  Baker School’s Welding Department fixed it right up for them, free of charge!  If you don’t have a decades old grill, just use a cast iron skillet.

I preheated my skillet to medium high and when it was hot, I drizzled just a bit of vegetable oil on for that first set of burgers.  While the skillet heats, nuke your buns for about 30 seconds to soften.    I make 2 at a time.  I place the patties on the grill, season them with season salt and then with my metal spatula, turned on its side, I start lightly chopping the burgers, to get them as flat as possible without breaking them up. Flip and cook another minute.

On top of burger sprinkle chopped onions, 1/4 cup of sauce (eyeball it, cover your meat) and then lay a piece of American cheese over that.  When you see the cheese getting melty (that’s a word.), place bottom bun on top of meat and top bun on top of bottom bun.  When done (for me it was a minute), take that top bun and scrape it along the skillet to sop up that juice and make your burger.  Easy!  But they go quick, so don’t overwhelm yourself trying to do too many at a time.

I had sauce left, so the next night we made hotdogs with it.  I boiled the wienies to make them like Coney.  Amazing!

_MG_2685_zps89118ab7 _MG_2690_zpsff99ceda

 

 

New Jersey · Restaurants

25 Burgers in Bound Brook, NJ

I should be ashamed for waiting this long to write this review.  These burgers are the best I’ve had.  Or at least close.

We visited Bound Brook, NJ on business last year about this time.  This little restaurant has a catchy sign and the inside is a little small, but its perfect burger is worth the standing up.  We went around noon, so you can imagine how packed it was in there.

The burgers were so juicy and flavorful.  I tried to peek to see how they made them to recreate them at home, and I think I may have figured it out.  Looks like they cook it on the flat top, then cover with a steel bowl.  After a second, they lift up the bowl ever so slightly, and squeeze some water on the patty to keep it moist!  Whatever they do, they do it right.

Fries here are amazing, too.  Crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.  They look like they are battered with a seasoning mix, as well.

Another caveat is that they have specialty burgers like pork, turkey, chicken (filets, not ground), veggie, bison, lamb and crab!

 

001
25 Burgers on Urbanspoon