My official hunt for the best (cheese)burger in Berlin begins NOW. I’m aiming to try a standard cheeseburger at as many burger joints in town so I know exactly where to go when I want a good ‘ol burger. First stop, Hamburger Heaven in Kreuzberg’s Graefekiez.
As we approached the stand–and it is a proper Imbiss, really just a window that you walk up to–I perked to hear two American accents running the counter, the wafting smells of beef on a griddle, while humming along to some groovy retro music. (Actually, I did know the song: My Boyfriend’s Back, originally done by the Angels.) There were other things on the menu that seemed intriguing, like some sub sandwiches, grilled steaks from South American sources, and even a Philly Cheesesteak option. They’d have to wait for another visit; I was there simply to eat a cheeseburger.
Service was decent and it only took about 10 minutes for us to get our number called to pick up our burgers and fries (Pommes). Seating is strictly outdoor from what I could tell, on benches and tables on the wide sidewalk in front of the stand. Something good to know in case you’re hankering for a burger if there’s a chance of rain — which this summer, has been quite often. The beverage selection was decent. Nonalcoholic beverages included Bionade, Fritz Cola, and Club Mate. Beers included Berliner Kindl and the Polish beers Tyskie and Żywiec.
After the burger, I was asked by my dining companion if I was going to give a rating system with points and whatever. At the time I said no, but i feel I at least need to comment on different parts of the meal with some sort of scale. Quantitatively gauging quality is not how I operate; for now I’ll just give vague American-style school grades: A for outstanding/phenomenal, B for above average/good, C for mediocre/okay, D for barely acceptable, and F for something completely unacceptable.
Again, this is specific to my own experience and was for a regular (not Freiland and not Bio-Fleisch) cheeseburger with Cheddar Cheese (4€). Let’s break this down:
Burger patty – A: The guy on the griddle gets points for the nice crust and sear on the patty, although I could have done with a little more salt on the crust. Two big thumbs up for using what seemed to be fresh patties, cooking it close to medium (rare-ish), and producing some juicy meat.
Cheese – A/B: Yes, cheddar was a good choice, but I could have had a little bit more on there. Was just melty enough, but for some reason, it just lacked some oomph. A for cheese choice and quality; B for quantity. More queso, bitte!
Sauces – C: I really, really, really appreciate that these guys go out of the way to make their own sauces themselves. The ketchup didn’t taste bottled but had more of a tomato-paste thing going on, which was fine. The mayo looked like it should have been more promising, but it was just…okay. The two were decent on the burger, but for some reason, I was hoping for more of a punch from the sauces.
Assorted vegetables – B: Pickles, good. Tomatoes, fresh. Raw red onion rings, thin and just enough for a kick but not so many that you worry about getting close to someone. The lettuce was iceberg and strangely chopped into squares, leading me to make make quite a mess. I think I ate more lettuce with my fingers than on the burger. The construction and placement of the vegetables sort of confused me a bit. Everything other than the iceberg lettuce was placed on top of the burger over the cheese with the ketchup. The lettuce mini-squares were sort of mixed with the mayo under the patty. I dug that the lettuce and the mayo hung out together, but it was just curious. Not bad, just interesting. It made more of a mess than I expected. Then again, perhaps my burger-eating technique is getting a bit rusty.
Summary: These guys sure know how to handle burger patties on a griddle. Toppings were done pretty well. The homemade ketchup and mayo are good, but not great. That was probably the only thing that really detracted from the experience. Otherwise, I’d gladly go again. I might have to get around to trying that cheesesteak.
Graefestrasse 93 (Schönleinstraße U8)
Open: Monday-Thursday 12h-0h, Friday-Saturday 12h-2h, Sunday 12-23h