Our favorite gluttonous feature is back and bigger than ever! The complete list of Bakersfield’s 10 Best Burgers is here!
It must be in our DNA. We like ‘em fried, charbroiled, grilled, and…pretty much any other way you can prepare ‘em. So how do you sort truly good burgers from the mediocre? You’ve got to taste them, of course. So with the help of the gourmands on our A-List, we compiled a list of the best patties in Bakersfield. And just like a cheap horror movie, there was an excessive amount of cheese.
I’ve often found that being this magazine’s assistant editor comes with perks. The job is full of them. But never have I been literally so full of perks.
When we decided to, once again, tackle this mountainous feature, the responsibility fell on my shoulders to take the burgers our fantastic A-List members recommended, and put them to the test.
This happened for two reasons. The first was because we knew we needed someone objective to taste all the burgers, and who better to do that than someone with no stake in the ranking? The second was because I pleaded to be given the assignment. Hey, I like burgers.
I thought long and hard about a feature of this proportion, and then thought long and hard about my own proportions. Was I willing to go down in glory having tasted the best burgers in Bakersfield, and ultimately go up a pant size? The answer was an unequivocal yes. My boss quipped, “No pain, no gain.”
There was definitely gain.
It’s important to have your wits about you when you embark on a gastronomical journey such as this. Especially because there’s a side effect to writing about hamburgers that no one talks about. It’s called burger lust.
Many people in history have been afflicted by this delicious disorder. I’m sure even Teddy Roosevelt dug burgers. That’s why hamburgers are so ingrained in our culture. They’re referenced in TV shows, movies, songs, and have even spawned super-villains (how many of us still have nightmares about the Hamburglar?).
Pulp Fiction featured heavy, almost philosophical, burger talk. It still has me craving a “Big Kahuna Burger.” And a season four episode of How I Met Your Mother had Marshall searching for a savory burger that had eluded him for years after a chance tasting.
“The bun, like a sesame-freckled breast of an angel,” he began, “resting gently on the ketchup and mustard below, flavors mingling in a seductive pas de deux. And then…a pickle! The most playful little pickle! Then a slice of tomato, a leaf of lettuce, and a patty of ground beef so exquisite, swirling in your mouth, breaking apart, and combining again in a fugue of sweets and savory so delightful. This is no mere sandwich of grilled meat and toasted bread…this is God, speaking to us in food.”
I tried to keep Marshall’s sentiments in the back of my head as I, too, immersed myself in Bakersfield burger-lore.
There was a lot to consider. Even more to taste. And copious amounts of Tums to ingest. But here, our dear readers, is the list. These are Bakersfield’s best burgers, as selected by our A-List and tasted by one woman. A woman whose burger lust has been appeased…for now.
#1 34th Street Carwash Deli 920 34th Street
Until you’ve eaten this life-altering burger, you can’t say you’re really from Bakersfield.
It’s one of those burgers that tastes so good while you’re eating it, you casually think about applying for a marriage license and changing your last name to “Ortegaburger.” You wouldn’t mind being tied down for the rest of your life to this burger. Then again, you’d live in constant fear that someone would eat your family. And it would probably be you who eventually devoured them.
Still, the Ortegaburger blends its flavors so perfectly, it takes the number one spot. Many places serve their variation of a burger with an Ortega chile, but only the Carwash gets it right.
It starts off with their hand-made patty that gets a bit of a crust after being on the grill. Yet it’s so thick, it stays juicy through and through. The chile adds the right amount of flavor and moisture to each bite and melds with their secret sauce and traditional condiments (lettuce, tomato, bread & butter pickle, onion) so wonderfully, I can’t tell if the spots on my “burger score sheet” are grease stains or tears. That’s right. I’m willing to admit this burger made me cry a little. It’s that good.
Tums needed: •