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A tale of two hamburgers

Hamburgers deluxe at Grasings Coastal Cuisine, Carmel
Hamburgers deluxe at Grasings Coastal Cuisine, Carmel
Kate Mulligan

Hamburgers in Monterey County


Yes, there are two kinds of hamburger – the real deal and the faux. When it is not love at first bite, it's time to take a stand. The right hamburger at the right time beats out any foods on Yahoo's list of foods that promote happiness. We can help.

It all started with the bus loads of tourists that were always asking for the best burger in Carmel. And why not? Tourists need to know what will provide the most flavor and sustenance for all their mileage. And what local wouldn't love to know exactly where to get that perfect 'quick fix'?

Exactly where is the beef in Monterey county? Judy Wilken, president and owner of has been on the cutting edge of this issue for a long time. For various reasons, one being the unadulterated curiosity that predominates Judy's daily journeys to shed light on nutritional issues, she set out on a taste testing spree. Ultimately, Judy has high hopes that the local school districts will hear the message for school gardens and real food options in school cafeterias. (see Judy's poster)

For starters, Shame on you Taco Bell, that 'thinking outside the bun' phrase just didn't cut the mustard. ....With a little investigation on Ed Bruske's web, Judy found that there are buns classified as whole grain, which were just 51% real whole grain, Can you imagine eating not so much 'whole grain rich' buns with your emulsified pseudo protein, and just 'lovin it”? Not Judy ~ (and not in school lunches if she has anything to say about it!) Seems that the famous old phrase of Popeye's J. Wellington Wimpy, "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today"(Wikipedia).. is not just used to illustrate fiscal irresponsibility, but ethical and nutritional responsibility as well.

In her search, Judy took into consideration all the other 'perfect burger' elements, the quality of the lettuce and tomato, a bun that does not break apart in your hand, the grilled aroma factor...juiciness, even the side of fries, etc.

Here are a handful of great burgers to track down in various parts of Monterey, based on your budget and location:

Carmel by the Sea:

Grasings Coastal Cuisine on 6th and Mission, just across from the Carmel by the Sea Fire Station. Yummy juicy tender aromatic burgers, buns to die for ( La Brea Bakery), fresh crisp lettuce, tomato that tastes like a tomato, and unusually flavorful ketchup, and avocado nestled in a special sauce … did I mention the bacon? PERFECT. (Many awards listed by Zagat, Bon Appetite, Wine Spectator for the rest of their menu as well) $25 dollar gift certificates available for $15 at the following link:|16271|grasings||s|e|4546475514

The Bicycle Cafe on Dolores between Ocean and 7th, Hamburgers are not listed on the web's lunch menu, but they do exist! This burger is not an American classic burger, no lettuce pickle tomato fries etc....but it's got grilled onions and served with a salad - and is very YUM, as they understand the meaning of 'medium rare'.

Del Monte Shopping Plaza

Islands has a good reputation for burgers, as well as Hawaiian food. This is a great place for the younger crowd, before or after a film.My son eats these burgers and 'loves em'.


American Burger at 738 Lighthouse and close enough to the Aquarium. Get a half-pound burger and thick-cut fries for under $8! Many varieties to choose from, in addition to the once a month 'Hawaiian night' featuring live music and cultural entertainment. Great shakes, themed tables, even a gave of checkers available made from bottle caps.(see slideshow)

Comments or suggestions or recommendations?

Contact Kate at


  • Profile picture of Seth Metoyer
    Seth Metoyer 5 years ago

    Wonderful article! I'm going to try the American Burger in Monterey. Sounds awesome!

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