A juicy grilled cheeseburger is one of the few all-American foods I’ve missed living in Medellin.
It’s not that I couldn’t find cheeseburgers for sale here, it was simply that they were more of the fast food variety, with thin meat patties dwarfed by cheap, oversized buns, and topped with tons of sauces, and even crushed potato chips.
Check out this paisa burger from 2009 to see what I’m talking about. Not only were they a mess to eat, but they didn’t taste good either.
Then last August, when I returned for a visit, I caught wind of Chef Burger Bar, and an entire boom in the gourmet burger business. Suddenly, it seemed as though American-style burgers were cool.
I don’t know the exact timeline of their rise in popularity, but because I was away for a year and a half, it felt like it happened overnight.
Before leaving for Mexico in May, I made it a point to grab lunch with a friend at the Chef Burger Bar in Poblado.
The place is so popular, it’s not uncommon for patrons to wait while the staff are busily trying to turn over tables. And such was the case when Nima and I arrived for lunch.
Luckily, we only had to wait 5-10 minutes to be seated. In the meantime, we perused the menu.
All of the burgers are 150 grams, unless otherwise noted, and cooked medium by default. All burgers include choice of french fries, rustic fries, potato chips, or a house salad.
The options tempting me included:
- The “Avocado” beef burger with cheddar, bacon, sliced avocado, and a chipotle mayonnaise (15,900 pesos, $8.34).
- The “Blue Cheese” beef burger with mushrooms, caramelized onions, and of course, blue cheese (16,900 pesos, $8.81).
- The “Mexican” beef burger with guacamole, cheddar, chili, and fried onions (14,900 pesos, $7.77).
They also feature a vegetarian burger with “portobello mushroom cap in peasant bread with mozzarella, sweet onions, and baked tomatoes” (14,900 pesos, $7.77).
For my cholesterol’s sake, I try to stay clear of burgers topped with bacon, blue cheese, and other artery-clogging toppings.
Once we were seated, I went the simple route, ordering a classic cheeseburger with rustic fries.
If the cook’s can execute a basic cheeseburger well, it’s a good sign they’re using fresh, quality ingredients, and know the proper length of time to keep the burger on the grill.
If my burger was up to American standards, the rest would surely be good as well.
Our burgers arrived in a timely manner, presented on faux newsprint paper.
Was I really looking at the best burger in town? I was about to find out.
I took a big bite, and was pleased with both how well it was cooked, as well as the flavors.
While they put a little mustard and ketchup on the top bun, it was far from being drenched in sauce as I’ve come to expect from fast food places here. Under the burger was a fresh green leaf of lettuce, and ripe red slice of tomato.
The lightly salted fries were served in a separate conical dish, and tasted fine.
Overall, I was extremely pleased with my lunch at Chef Burger Bar. With most burgers priced under $10, including the side of fries or small salad, it’s a great value.
Add to that the quality of meat and ingredients used, as well as the creative menu, and it’s a recipe for a delicious experience.
As to whether they live up to their slogan “the best burger in town” that’s open to debate. For me, it’s certainly one of the best I’ve tried so far.
Ryan previously listed Chef Burger Bar as one of the top five burger places in Medellin, until recently, when he revised the list and bumped them off.