The history of the American hamburger goes back over a century, in the US it can be ancient history so that one can spend evenings debating who exactly created the first hamburger..whether on toasted bread or bun. The hamburger was a working man's sandwich, that for a nickel or two you could fill up and move on. It had a disreputable past, having been associated with meat that was cheap and questionable and ground to not waste a part of the cuts of meat the butcher couldn't sell as prime, or so it's once been rumored.
My personal history of the hamburger comes out of Chicago, where the mainstreaming of meat and bun was brought together in places called White Castle and Steak N Shake. The fresh meat was cooked on a grill right in front of you, so you knew what sort of meat you were getting and you got to see it from start to finish as it was presented on the plate in front of you.
While I'm not going to recite the entire history of burger and the burger joint.. There were many: whether it was Steak N Shake (the special sit down steakburger place my mom would take my brothers and myself to on special occasion) or the White Castle, or the ubiquitous McDonalds.. or the classic Mel's and the modern quick serve In N Out of California, I could go on. Instead, I'll move on to what this review is actually about, The Downtown Burger Bar.
D-TOWN BURGER BAR
Dtown Burger Bar
6th & Spring
D-Town is playing off those memories we all have of our youth and hamburger experience. It's got a simple menu that has been likened to In-N-Out, and other than the menu, that's about where it stops. The decor of the place shouts out to Mel's with it's 50s style jukebox and over-zealous Coca Cola decor (one can't help noticing it since it's all over the chairs, walls and counters) as if there was a special at the World of Coke store. We're not here to check out the decorations though, we're here to eat.
Burgers, fries & a coke.. or a hotdog. Shakes are also on the menu, but other than the pristine multi-mixer on the counter, we didn't note anyone ordering or drinking any shakes.
The grill is so new, it shines.. and they've got their system down to a well-organized easy going pace. Place order at the counter, pay for your order and sit down and wait for the magic to begin..
Burgers come out from a cooler drawer placed below the grill, and cooked to a med/well perfection, fries are cooked in small batches and are a mix of sweet potato and "regular" fries. If you sit at one of the many counter seats, you can watch the process.
SeanYoda's double cheeseburger..
Once we got our order it was served hot and fresh. The cheeseburger itself was a simple affair of lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo.. ketchup and mustard are on the counter if you need it. While not the best burger in town, it's simplicity is what makes it a winner.
The fries for me were a bit of a frustration.. I love sweet potato fries and wish there was an option to just have those and skip those long and skinny McDonald type fries. When I go to McDonald's I know what I'll get. these weren't quite that. they were long and bendy and a little underdone in some cases.. and in others, just so. They had little to no salt (thank you!) and so SeanYoda who was dining with me, added salt to his, but personally I think that is how it should be.. over salted food takes away from the taste..
While we ate, music of the fifties (and dare I say sixties?) played continuously, which helped with the feel of the place. When you get down to it, the 'feel' of the fifties is what it's actually going for, as it's nothing like Mel's or Steak N Shake or In N Out, but more a modern 'hats off' to the fifties and the concept of clean, quick and edible diner.
single cheeseburger with a hint of those yummy sweet potato fries.
For a single combo and a double combo plus tax and tip came to just under $20, so while not a recession special, still very affordable for a night out, or a lunch. I would definitely go back when I wanted something quick and convenient, or if it was Sunday (Weeneez is closed Sundays). It doesn't come close in comparison to Weeneez cheeseburger, but then Julie doesn't have fries.. but if you wanted good fries you don't want DTown you want the shoestring fries at the Nickel with the Bacon Burger.. or the Belgian fries at WurstKuche or the sweet potato fries at... You get the picture.
That's the dilemma here.. if you want better tasting than McDonalds, that's affordable and convenient with fries, this is the place. It's hard to find a place that has not only affordable food, but delicious affordable food that serves it with good fries.