Hicks’ Weekly Dish: Best fast-food burger in town BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 01, 2016
Two years ago, the Weekly Dish went searching for the best fast-food burger in town.
The Harvey's Angus Burger finished on top at 4.5 out of 5 Suns, pursued by the A&W Poppa Burger (4.25 Suns). Then came the pack: The Fatburger Baby Burger (3.5 Suns), a Burger King Double Whopper (3.25 Suns), Wendy's Bacon Deluxe Single (3 Suns), the McDonald's Quarter Pounder (3 Suns), and Dairy Queen's Grill Burger (2.5 Suns).
Edmonton has since experienced an American burger invasion. Three franchises -- Five Guys, Smashburger and Carl's Jr -- have moved into the 'burbs.
St. Albert's Jack's Burger Shack has made a name for itself, as has the two-outlet Rodeo Burger. Alberta's Burger Baron group started way back in the '60s.
Part II of the War of the Classic Burgers, the rules: The venue had to be a burger joint, had to be fast-food The burgers had to have bacon and cheese with one big meat patty or a double. If there was a signature burger, that's what we ate.
Have prices ever jumped! Burgers in 2014 were $5.50 to $6.50. Burgers today are $7.50 to $9.50, but overall quality has improved. For this review, a burger with cheese and bacon had to priced under $10.
The winner, the Connor McDavid of Metro Edmonton hamburgers, is the BBQ Crunch Burger ($9) from Jack's Burger Shack on St. Albert's Perron Street..
Everything at Jack's is made from scratch -- its own BBQ sauce, tomato relish, a garlic aioli (a special mayo) side for french-fry dipping. Jack's meat patties are fat and scrumptious with a yummy crust, grill-seared but tasting as if fire-broiled.
Jack's buns are fluffy, fresh and glazed. On my BBQ Crunch burger, the onions were fully caramelized. Real, just-cooked bacon added flavour. Tangy sweetness came from a home-made orange soda BBQ sauce. Potato chips within the bun made for an unusual, pleasing crunch.
The BBQ Crunch burger is, no kidding, a perfect burger: 5 Suns out of 5.
In second place is Rodeo Burger's The Western with cheese ($9.79). A sauce mixed into the big, juicy patty gave the meat serious taste. The bun was fresh. More tastiness came from garlic-fried mushrooms, caramelized onions, a little guacamole and decent bacon. Other than being chintzy with the cheese, this was a satisfying lunch. 4 of 5 Suns.
Third: A tie between Smashburger's Albertan Big Smash ($8.59) and the Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger ($9.69).
Five Guys had a delicious, big, juicy meat patty -- after Jack's the best of the bunch. The pick-your-own accessories were good, but not great. While Five Guys emphasized its excellent fries from locally grown potatoes, its buns were boring.
Smashburger's Albertan, on the other hand, had seasoned grilled onions, whiskey BBQ sauce, decent bacon, decent cheese and a fried egg inside a fresh, big Kaiser bun. But what happened to the Smashburger's much-touted meat patty? It was flat, dense, tasting scrawny and dry.
3.5 of 5 Suns for both. If a Five Guys meat patty could be combined with Smashburger's fixings and buns, we'd have a 4 Sun burger.
Fifth: Carl's Jr. Western ($7.99) doesn't come close to 5 Guys and Smash Burger. Everything about the burger - the meat, the cheesy guck, the bun - was generic. The bacon was limp. The greasy onion rings inside the burger had no meaningful crunch. 3 of 5 Suns.
Sixth: The west end Burger Baron's double patty 'shroom burger with cheese and onions ($8.25) is strictly nostalgia. The patties were reminiscent of '60s TV dinner steakettes. The vaunted mushroom sauce wasn't bad, but squirted out all over. The fried onions were okay, the mushrooms ho-hum. Independently owned and operated, with no franchise enforcement, quality must vary from Burger Baron to Burger Baron. The outlets are old and rundown. Yet brand loyalty is obvious. Burger Baron customers keep coming back. 2.5 of 5.
Combining the Weekly Dish ratings from 2014 and today, here's Edmonton's best, under $10, fast-food burgers.
1. Jack’s Burger Shack BBQ Crunch, 5 of 5 Suns.
2. Harvey’s Angus Burger, 4.5 Suns.
3. A&W Poppa Burger, 4.25 Suns
4. Rodeo Burger Western, 4 of 5 Suns.
5. (Three-way tie)
Fatburger Baby Burger, 3.5 Suns.
Smashburger Albertan Big Smash, 3.5 Suns.
Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger, 3.5 Suns.
8. Burger King Double Whopper, 3.25 Suns.
9. (Three-way tie)
Wendy's Bacon Deluxe Single, 3 Suns.
Carl’s Jr. Western, 3 Suns.
McDonald's Quarter Pounder, 3 Suns.
Dairy Queen Grill Burger, 2.5 Suns.
Burger Baron double patty ‘shroom burger, 2.5 Suns