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Friday, September 18, 2015

Here's why the 'best burger joint in America' isn't worth your time

When Foursquare ranked Hopdoddy Burger Bar as the "best burger joint in America" (on this very site) I immediately put it on my list of must-trys.  But, as a burger enthusiast and follower of burger news, I was curious about a few things. Why hadn't I heard of Hopdaddy before? And what's with that name?  To answer the latter, "hop" refers to the bitter plant used in beer and "doddy" is a nickname for a type of cow.  Hopdoddy has nine locations in Texas, California, Arizona, and Colorado. The Austin, Texas, outpost, on South Congress Avenue, holds the No. 1 burger joint ranking with Foursquare, and on a recent vacation I had a chance to check it out.  At first glance, the restaurant's slick exterior sort of looks like a burger bar and an Apple store got together in the same space. And although the photo above looks busy and the location is extremely popular, locals say there's almost never a line.  Wrong.  I arrived at a pretty off peak time (3 p.m. on a Tuesday) and I still had to wait a half hour just to place my order. Starving and annoyed, I couldn't help but notice that the atmosphere was jubilant and the the employees were helpful. So there's that.  Scanning the menu, I saw a Greek-inspired lamb burger with feta cheese and all the fixings (think: cucumber, tzatziki sauce, and pickled onions) and a Southwestern burger with chili con carne, Fritos, and Tillamook cheddar, but I wanted something a bit more classic.  Hopdoddy is known for its creativity across more than a dozen different burgers. I went for the most expensive beef burger on the menu — the primetime burger ($12).  Topped with melted brie, truffle aioli, arugula, caramelized onions, and steak sauce, the primetime packs a Texas Akaushi beef patty. The meat is said to come from cows descended from Japan's renowned Akaushi flock.  I ordered it without steak sauce because steak sauce on burgers is gross. When it arrived at my table, I really thought I was in for a treat. I was so naive back then. With a single bite the verdict was in. For starters, it was a soggy, sloppy mess. But sloppy burgers can be great so there's definitely more to its failure.  The bun, though freshly baked in-house, was a bit too sweet. The toppings were fine, but none stood out to me in any meaningful way. Brie on a burger wouldn't be my first choice, but I didn't think it would be as disappointing as it was. The truffle aioli was barely perceptible. The onions were fine. But most importantly, the burger patty itself had no flavor. The meat wasn't dry, but it was incredibly bland. I've had better in New York dive bars.  At the end of the day, the Hopdoddy burger is just OK and my search for the best burger in America continues. SEE ALSO: 2 FOOD BLOGGERS WHO HAVE TRIED EVERY NEW YORK CITY BURGER THAT MATTERS SAY THESE ARE THE 15 BEST DON'T FORGET: FOLLOW BUSINESS INSIDER'S LIFESTYLE PAGE ON FACEBOOK! Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what happened when I ordered Shake Shack's secret menu burger