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Shack up



Credit: Mark Hancock

Take away the mustard and the mayo and the lettuce and the onion and tomato. Forget the cheese. At the most basic, a hamburger is a patty of cooked ground beef on a bun.

That is not the way I prefer to eat a burger, generally, yet I did. Twice. Side-by-side. To bring you this bit of non-revelation: The No Name Ranch Burger at Irma’s Burger Shack is far superior to the regular Irma Burger.

Shocking, right? I mean, who could have predicted (everybody can raise your hands now) that the $7.50 No Name burger made with grass-fed, organic, locally raised beef would somehow be superior to the $4.95 Irma Burger? Oh, I see you all have your hands raised. Very well.

The funny thing — to me, anyway — is that the folks at Irma’s will plainly tell you this. [Because they want you to have a better burger and a $2.50 up-charge.] You’ll notice that the No Name meat can hold that medium (or medium-rare, yum!) color and flavor better. The meat is not spongy. It just tastes right.

Now, you can cover it in sauces or cheeses or put bacon on top of it if you want. I might be a plain burger convert. It really is that much better.

Is the Irma Burger bad? No. It’s fine. If you didn’t taste them together, you probably wouldn’t know. But I did. I can’t unknow it. And now that you just read it, you probably can’t unknow it, either.

But maybe you don’t like burgers.

Maybe you’re from another planet, one where they haven’t discovered flavors or happiness. If so, Irma’s Burger Shack probably isn’t the place for you. If you just don’t dig on red meat, however, I’d go for the Which Came First ($6.50).

Which Came First is a mess of a thing. It’s a blackened chicken breast, juicy and flavorful, covered in green chiles and pepper jack cheese. Oh, and there’s a fried egg on top. It’s one of the few chicken sandwiches I actually enjoy.

foods are just a dare made manifest, and the What U Lookin @ ($15.95)
is a prime example. It’s a sandwich made out of sandwiches. The “buns”
on this burger are grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. And stacked in the
middle of those two sandwiches are fried eggs, bacon, hot links and 12
ounces of No Name beef.

White Trash Nachos ($8.95) are, as owner Linda Lee told me, driven by
need. What if you desperately want Mexican food, but you’re in a burger
joint? You make do.
Which is how a pile of fresh-cut french fries were bathed in a shower of
pepper jack and cheddar, beans, chicken, onions, sour cream, jalapeños
and salsa.

Huh? You’re still here? I figured you’d probably gone to Irma’s already.

Well, there’s also a pretty darn good chicken-fried steak ($9.95)
covered in homemade pepper gravy. Want to know how you can tell it’s
homemade? When you’re done with the steak, you’ll be looking for
anything else you can find to sop it up.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the chocolate sheet cake ($3), which
reminds me of the sheet cake my dad used to take to the office. It’s
flat and chocolatey. Get some. Yes, you.

as Lee said, did not invent the burger. But it does a pretty damn good
job making burgers I want to eat. Which is why it’ll probably be seeing
too much of me for a long while.

Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.

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