Our hamburger-hating intern piles on the patties at Tampa Bay joints

Verdict? Emma's belief system has been shaken.

click to enlarge Our hamburger-hating intern piles on the patties at Tampa Bay joints

No, I’m not vegetarian. Yes, I eat meat. I just don’t like hamburgers.

I just don’t get the hype. In my experience, hamburgers are just greasy, underseasoned, overcooked slabs of crumbly beef with limp vegetables and mayonnaise. Give me a hot dog any day. 

Nothing I have ever said has left the people around me so aghast.

Regardless, I’m a red-blooded American, so I’ve decided to give hamburgers another chance and try a few local hot spots. The problem is, nearly every self-respecting restaurant serves their own take on the cookout classic, and I can’t try them all. 

Goody Goody Burger

Step one: the order. One Original Goody Goody Cheese Burger with POX Sauce, a 1925 secret recipe of stewed tomatoes and herbs.

And we wait and wait. Ten minutes past my 15-minute parking, my order is up.

My burger looks like a murder scene. POX Sauce is, apparently, not meant to be packaged. And while it looks a mess, I am shaken to my core. Am I a convert in one bite? The patty is a little dry but it packs flavor. 

And that sauce. It’s like spaghetti and ropa vieja had a baby right on this pillowy bun. I’m surprised. I’m elated. I’m ready to continue my mission.

Hamburger Hater’s take: Questioning my entire belief system.

Shula Burger

Stop two is just down Howard Avenue: Shula Burger. It's just me and one other dude, but there are tunes, and it smells like fresh bread. 

And so we wait.

Less than five minutes and I’m walking out, paper bag in hand. One Shula Burger to go.

The Shula burger looks, and smells, a lot more like your classic burger — lettuce, tomato, pickles, patty, cheese and some kind of sauce, probably mayo-based. I’m trying not to think about it.

And the bite.

Well-played, Shula Burger. The patty is a lot softer than Goody Goody's, and while it’s no POX, I’m not hating this zesty sauce.

Would I get it again? Probably not. Did I go in for a second bite? Yes, ma’am.

Hamburger Hater’s take: Cautiously optimistic.

Burger Monger

"One Classic Burger Monger, please." I say it between gritted teeth, rubbing my stomach like a drunk uncle on Thanksgiving. This was supposed to be fun. The ground beef and mayo flavor from Shula are lingering in an unpleasant way.

So Burger Monger looks... exactly like Shula? Except maybe greasier.

Monger sauce. So. Much. Mayonnaise. I’m not a fan. I’d like to talk about the other flavors, but all I can taste is that sauce.

Okay, I’m wiping off the sauce and going in for bite number two. This meat is very greasy, but ultimately, fine. The pickles and onions help. 

Hamburger Hater’s take: meh.

Thee Burger

Finally, Thee Burger. I head to the counter and order a cheeseburger, no mayo — I learned my lesson last time.

We’re working with the classic American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onions, but Thee Burger adds on these super crispy, homemade deep fried onions. It’s kind of a game-changer. 

Salty, crunchy, tangy. I’m a fan. Somehow, this burger — which tastes like a backyard patty off the grill — manages to not be greasy, which is pretty shocking considering these onions are still warm from the fryer.

It’s possible that I’m just really hungry, but I’m chowing down on this thing.

There will be a next time.

Hamburger Hater’s take: ashamed for my relatives to read about me enjoying the same food I refused to eat at every family gathering ever.

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