Thursday, January 7, 2010

Where to find a really great burger

FuddruckersImage via Wikipedia

I have never eaten a beef  hamburger at Fuddruckers, but I am a loyal fan of its naturally raised ostrich burger and its great salad bar. Fuddruckers opened its Paramus restaurant about 20 years ago, the pioneer among so-called better burger chains in North Jersey.

My wife and I had a terrific lunch there yesterday, but noted a few changes from our last visit.

 The red-meat ostrich burger, which has much less fat than a beef burger,  is one-third of a pound and comes from New Jersey-based Fossil Farms, which sells naturally raised meat from many animals -- alligators to yaks (Web site link is below).

Fuddruckers offers other alternatives to its hamburgers -- two kinds of farmed fish, chicken and buffalo, and you can sip wine or beer with your meal. One of its best features is the salad bar, which allows you to add freshly made salsa with cilantro and sliced jalapeno peppers to your burger, as I did along with ketchup and mustard. But you can no longer get a baked potato in place of the excellent skin-on fries, and you seem to be penalized if you order cole slaw with your burger, but not fries.

My wife ordered a half-pound beef burger for $5.49 and added cole slaw and fries for $2 more. I added only cole slaw to my ossi burger ($6.99) and it cost me $1.39 more. Fuddruckers says it beef hamburgers are made from fresh, prime beef, the highest USDA grade, which has the most fat of the three grades, and that the cattle were vegetarian-fed. This means they weren't fed animal by-products -- kitchen scraps and bits of dead animals.

The ostrich burger has so little fat, Fossil Farms recommends you order it medium rare, which I did yesterday, but I have also ordered it medium and it has always been moist and delicious. A quarter-bottle of merlot ($4.50) went well with the orstrich.

You can keep your Smashburgers, your Five Guys burgers, your Bobby Flay burgers -- all made from cattle raised conventionally. These places seem to spend more money on marketing than on ingredients, and gushing articles about them in The Record make them suspect. If I want a beef burger, I go to Tasteatery in Fort Lee for one of its wonderful, naturally raised, grass-fed patties, such as the West Coast burger with greens and hummus.

Fuddruckers, 282 Route 4 east, Paramus, 201-343-4533,
open seven days. Second restaurant on Route 23, Wayne.

Other Web sites:


From alligator to yak
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  1. Fuddruckers definitely makes a good burger, has a great variety and is of a decent value. I do miss the Appetizer Sampler that they apparently only have in California locations.

    Have you heard of Elevation Burger in Montclair? My wife dragged me there one Friday, it was kind of trendy and the food was slightly overpriced, but the beef is organic and the fries are fried in olive oil. I am not a fan of Five Guys at all, I think it is pretty lousy and you know my take on Bobbys Burger Shack.

  2. I have heard of Elevation Burger and would certainly try it if it were closer. Tasteatery is a no-frills place that closes at 6 p.m. and you have to go during the non-rush hours. As for the appetizer sampler, I have never seen that in Paramus. When Fuddruckers first opened there 20 years ago, they had the meat in a big refrigerated room and ground it fresh every day. The room is still there, but it is dark. Maybe customers felt uncomfortable looking at carcasses.

  3. Its probably a better thing that they dont have the appetizer platter here anyway, it had onion rings, mozarella sticks, chicken fingers and some other goodies on it. Eating in my early 20s was one thing but its probably not a good idea anymore.

  4. For your information, Five Guys does not spend any money on advertising. None, zip, zero. Rather they spend money on a secret shopper program, with the highest scoring franchises receiving cash prizes which go to the employees for a job well done. They also use fresh ground beef of the highest quality available. I know this because we have a friend who sells meat to the best steak houses in the country and he was most impressed with the fact that Five Guys gets their beef from the same supplies that his company does. The same is true of all of their ingredients. They search out and only use the very best.

  5. OK. Maybe I cast my net too wide on the marketing situation. But please be specific about "beef of the highest quality available." Ask your friend what kind of beef Five Guys buys. For example, Bobby Flay uses Certified Angus Beef. That sounds good, but in fact, the cattle are raised conventionally, with antibiotics, growth hormones and so forth. If he spent a little more, he could buy Certified Angus Beef Natural, which are vegetarian fed and get no drugs or hormones.

  6. Wouldn't necessarily call what a Fuddruckers has a salad bar ... more like a fixin's bar. But the salsa and lettuce and onions are very fresh and high quality.

  7. Salad bar may be stretching it, but how does it compare to other upscale burger places? Do any of the others have anything similar?

  8. I have to highly recommend Burger DeLuxe on Rt 23 north in Wayne. It's owned by the Livanos Group (that also owns Oceana, Abboccato and other NYC restaurants). They've got really interesting, creative burger combos (meat is fresh and cooked perfectly to order), awesome shakes, malteds, floats, etc. and a real throwback feel. I'll now go to Burger DeLuxe over Fuddruckers (which is only minutes away) ANY TIME.

  9. Five Guys is nothing but overpriced, overhyped and mediocore. I would also like to know what exactly "fresh ground beef of the highest quality available" means.

  10. Yes, I recall reading about Burger DeLuxe opening. But I don't eat beef hamburgers unless they are naturally raised, thus my loyalty to Fuddruckers' ostrich burger.

  11. Me, too, Shakuey201. What does that mean?


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