Testing Ground 

An idiosyncratic guide to hamburgers in Richmond.

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The Style Burger

At one time, all of us here at Style thought this was the best burger in town. Not me, not exactly, because I wasn't writing for this publication yet, but I'm sure I would have, if I had been. It's a large burger, although not too thick to get your hands around, on a homemade bun, toasted lovingly. Mine was cooked slightly beyond medium rare, but the sharp white cheddar and the salty sear on the outside cover a multitude of sins. It's a good base-line burger: large, tasty, and lacking in definable flaws. It's the burger the rest must measure up against.

Davis & Main
2501 W. Main St.
4 p.m.-midnight, daily


The Monstrosity Burger

Let me describe the Brent burger for you. It's one pound of ground beef with cheese, inserted between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Go back and read that again, just to make sure you have the details straight. Two grilled cheese sandwiches — cheddar on white. An entire package of ground beef formed in an enormous circle. With cheddar cheese on top. Add mayonnaise and whatever other condiments you want. Eat with abandon. Mine was cooked exactly medium-rare, and I was able to stuff in just over a third of it. I probably could have eaten more, but the sandwiches have a tendency to fall apart under the pressure of your hands trying to muscle all of that beef into your mouth. The other, smaller burgers on the menu at 821 are outstanding, but the Brent invites thoughts of binging and purging when you're all done with it.

821 CafAc
821 W. Cary St.
Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday & Sunday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.


The Misnomer Burger

The folks at Star-lite claim to have a burger just like the one Soble's (a restaurant that preceded them at Main and Robinson streets) used to serve. I beg to differ. Without revealing exactly how old I am, I would just like to state for the record that I started eating Soble's burgers — probably when I was a mere babe in my mother's arms — when it was in the space that Vidalia occupies now, and this one, frankly, is nothing like it. The memorial burger Star-lite serves is a large patty that overlaps the bun by a good half-inch or so. It's big, but fairly flat, and the old Soble's burger was fat and juicy and came on a grilled bun. With the addition of cheddar and bacon, it was, in my mind at least, the protoburger, the burger which all other burgers aspired to be and inevitably fell short. This burger not only suffers in comparison, it simply isn't the same thing at all.

Star-lite Dining & Lounge
2600 W. Main St.
Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Saturday & Sunday Brunch, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.


The Old School Burger

If you want to go flat and wide, the best place to find a burger that's thrown on a griddle and pressed firmly with a spatula is on Lakeside Avenue or Jeff Davis Highway. You, the old men, the contractors and the boys in button downs, who may all be the same person, line up at the window, place their orders and wait for one of the women flipping burgers and ringing up at the register to bellow out that your order is, in fact, ready. In a brown paper bag, and all-the-way is the only way to go with this burger. The only drawback is a cold bun, but pondering in your car in the parking lot where they found one wide enough to fit their kind of patty is enough of a distraction for any true burger aficionado.

Roy's Big Burger
5200 Lakeside Ave. or (as What-A-Burger) 9901 Jefferson Davis Highway
262-8775 or 743-8851
Roy's: Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; What-A-Burger: Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

The OMG Burger

If you were on a desert island and could only bring one burger with you, move over your 10 favorite CD's and the solar-powered CD player you brought and make a little room in your backpack for this one. If you only get one burger to eat before you face that firing squad or if you're celebrating the end of 10 years of vegetarianism, you now know what to order. This burger is tall and fat, seared within an inch of its life and yet perfectly cooked, and so full of juice that I had it running down my arms. It comes on a homemade, grilled bun and is accompanied by something that makes me feel a little dizzy when I think about it, an over-the-top detail that makes me swoon—homemade mayonnaise. You will not find a burger like this anywhere else. Ever.

Can Can Brasserie
3120 W. Cary St.
Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-1 a.m.
Friday & Saturday, 7 a.m.-2 a.m.
 Sunday, 9:00 a.m. until close

Read Brandon Fox's blog at www.brandoneats.com and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bpfox.



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