Monday, January 18, 2010

Random Day Drive And Two Burgers

I felt like taking another drive so I drove up to Riverside last weekend. Never been and was for the heck of it.

After an hour and a half or so of therapeutic driving (btw my new portable GPS = by far the best $150 ever spent) I arrived in Downtown Riverside which was small but had its plentiful share of charming brick buildings and architecture. I drove around for quite a while and it was fun also surveying the many cute homes surrounding. California Bungalows and Cottages, a few neat Craftsmen style and adorable Victorians. My day kinda started late so soon enough I felt it was time to grab a quick bite and maybe check out the old planes I passed on the way up at the March Field Museum.

I remembered Johnny's Burgers mentioned by a reader on a recent Serious Eats: Our Fave Burgers of 2009 post. Wasn't one of the burgers selected but just a comment from a reader sharing their local favorite. I thought It'd be worth stopping by as it was also only a few minutes further North.

The smell in the parking lot of JB's was greasy excellent. As busy as they were serving both the drive-thru, myself, and an additional constant flow of walk ins, the nice lady who took my order impressively never stopped smiling. Asked for the regular cheeseburger and a side of onion rings. Was ~$5 and $3 if ordered individually but I forgot how much my combo with coke ended up.

The burger patty was the thinner and wide, like a small pancake and assembled into something resembling a whopper. Much fresher tasting of course with a good amount of very fine shredded lettuce, a slice of tomato, pickles, cheese, I can't remember onions but had a smear of Thousand Island sauce on the nicely toasted sesame bun.

To me this felt like a marriage between an In-N-Out single and a BK Whopper. A simple freshly made burger benefited by a wider/hardier grilled to order patty. The resulting child is a good kid. :) I didn't study the menu too well since I prefer my burgers fairly standard, often even without cheese.

The cornmeal coated thick cut onion rings had potential. Somehow the twice fried process didn't fair out well this day where the coatings were separated and saturated in oil (unfortunately an amount that even I couldn't handle, ha). Should have stuck with my original decision of fries which at least from what I observed on other tables were nice light golden, thick straight cuts.

Johnny's Burger, 3394 Madison St, Riverside, CA 92504

The March Field Museum is about a half hour South of Riverside. Took a ton of photos and I had one of an obligatory SR-71 ready but here's a more interesting D-21 instead.. A +Mach-3 drone. Crazy.

I'd say the MFM was worth the $8 entrance fee.. But I also had fun simply getting off random exits and exploring. Further south the peaks of high hills I tried to reach many turned out to be gated private homes.. Lots of dead ends and I also learned that avocado theft was a crime..

Then the obligatory barbed wire macro.. (see how many comes up on google, haha). I found someone with a serious beekeeping hobby. Your own honey on your breakfast toast? How cool is that!?

Random sky photo touched a little to resemble lomography. (The 10 Golden Rules of Lomography that I also try to apply to my digital Canon point-and-shoot, ha.)

It was a nice relaxing drive. Oh I also found an almost surreal community, something akin to the movie The Truman Show. Perfect houses with pretty paint schemes, flawless lawns, artificial lake with a fountain in the middle and all.

There were a lot of golf carts everywhere. In fact one lady was walking her dog in one! She later stopped to say hello to me. I thought I was going to be asked to leave the premise since I sort of conveniently missed the unmanned security box at the entrance..

Later found out it was Rancho Monserate after some googling, described as a "Retirement Eden for Active Seniors"..

So I felt I had enough for the day and punched in the home setting on my trusty GPS... Until by complete chance I passed by Nessy Burgers my way back onto the 15-Fwy, haha. I had to stop even if it meant taking most of my meal home..

I remember Cathy of mmm-yoso had done a post a while back and read things about the place here and there.

A small, what looks like a shipping container with a large awning attached sitting next to a Mobil gas station. The place was pretty busy.

The Nessy Burger was $5.50. The fries I had with chili (no cheese, was ~$5 I think) just to see if I'd want it on my dog next time if I were ever back.

First impression, the thick burger patty was impressive, at least from what I would've expected from the tiny stand. Comes with straight forward iceberg lettuce, slice of tomato, raw onion, and cheese. At the condiments station were huge squeeze bottles of ketchup and thousand island sauce, salt and pepper shakers, and a lidded container with those pickled chili peppers.

The patty had a nice grilled crusty outer that I enjoyed but I thought it could've been more moist for the size. I noticed some fine chopped (cooked) onions in the beef ground which helped in flavor and add some moistness despite the well-doneness.

The thinner viscosity house Thousand Island sauce pours out fast! But I didn't mind the tasty mess since the sauce felt less tart than the usual jarred stuff and maybe a tad lighter. The Chili on the fries had beans and were pretty standard as with the large crinkle cut fries under them. The beans made it particularly filling and I managed to finish the burger but took most of the fries home.

The Nessy Burger to me was like that simple but fat burger served at a friend's 4th of July backyard BBQ, and honestly the friendly vibe wasn't too different either. For the quick fuel pit stop the place is, the burger could be a godsend depending on your hunger.

Cause it sure heck beats a refrigerated sandwich from the Mobile station next door. :) But I'm definitely going to see if they will make it at least medium for me next time.

Nessy Burgers, 4760 Hwy 76, Fallbrook, CA 92028 (7~7pm weekdays, 9~4pm weekends)

I'm seriously thinking of rejoining a gym this year..... *sigh*


K and S said...

in awe of all that chili! looks delicious :)

KirkK said...

Hey Dennis - Haven't had Johnny's in a good long time! It reminded me of old fashioned thin patty burgers from various places when I was growing up. Nostalgia feeds the soul, you know.

Anonymous said...

I always hate having to go to Riverside because of the lack of interesting food places. I'll have to try Johnny's next time.

Dennis K. said...

Hi K&S! The beans gave it some nice highlights in the photo didn't it?? I had it for dinner that night, haha. ;)

Hi Kirk, Nostalgia is my middle name! This place sure was busy busy..

Hi Kirbie! The burger was like a wide In-N-Out-single if that makes sense.. Simple, fresh, wide.. haha. Next time I'd get the fries. :)

Sawyer said...

hey, i've been to march field before in hs for extra credit! my us history teacher's parents worked there. do you like your onion rings w/ corn meal batter? man i love onion rings, but it's hard to find a lot of places that have good ones (or maybe i'm looking in all the wrong spots)

Michael said...

Hi Dennis,
Love a good burger! And Nessy Burgers is one of my favorites!
making me hungry.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Sawyer! I prefer my onion rings with that crispy tempura batter like crust. I used to like the beer batter ones at Wolfe Burger in Pasadena but it's been a while since I've been there.

Hi Michael! I felt the odd location and atmosphere was integral to the burger's experience and maybe even part of the attraction.(?) Either way I'd have another Nessy Burger in a heartbeat! :)

caninecologne said...

hi dennis - looks like you had a good old time! and had some good eats to boot!

liked seeing the onion rings....never had them with cornmeal though.

Dennis K. said...

Hi CC! Knowing I can't get lost definitely made the exploring much more fun. :)

caninecologne said...

hi dennis - we just bought a garmin last fall for our chicago trip. very hands those gps device....