In the movie, Pulp Fiction, Jules, one of the main characters, samples another character’s hamburger and says, “This is a tasty burger! I do love the taste of a good burger!” Although things do not work out well for the burger’s owner, Jules speaks for most of us: an appetizing burger or cheeseburger is a force to be reckoned with. A well-made burger harkens back to days of family barbeques and campouts; the smells of sizzling meat and warm, fragrant buns recall happy occasions from childhood. And here in Benicia, we are lucky enough to have three excellent restaurants serving outstanding, yet distinctive burgers. Give one a try and you are in for a treat.
The Cellar offers an exceptional burger from Snake River Farms, a family owned operation that offers USDA prime ground beef from the Boise, Idaho area. The hamburger ($14.00) comes with arugula, pickled red onions and garlic aioli. For an additional charge you can add melted gruyere or bleu cheese, or applewood smoked bacon. An Above and Beyond vegetarian burger is also available. Sides to your burger include crispy fries, onion rings, Caesar salad or a wedge salad. The Cellar also offers a brand-new Thai-Spiced Shrimp Burger that is a completely different entity. The Thai-Spiced Shrimp Burger is a lightly fried shrimp patty on a soft brioche bun with arugula. This burger is seasoned in the Thai manner with lemongrass and ginger and is drizzled with a garlic aioli. The Thai-Spiced Shrimp Burger comes with French fries ($16.00). The Cellar has a variety of beer and selections from the local Bruehol brewery, as well as an assortment of fine wines from California and elsewhere by the glass or the bottle. The servers are happy to help you select the beer or wine that best complements your food order. Although they currently are not delivering meals, they are open for takeout.
Bottom of the Fifth
Well-known as a drinking establishment for years before the addition of food, Bottom of the Fifth is a popular “dive bar” in the Military East section of Benicia. Burgers were the first “bar food” items offered ($10.99), and many other tasty items have been added over the years, including fish and chips, tacos and garlic fries. The burger itself is from USDA beef that is fresh, never frozen, and shaped by hand. The meat is seasoned with a special spice blend that is unique to Bottom of the Fifth. Fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese (American, cheddar, Monterey jack or pepper jack) if you want it, on a French or sourdough roll, or sesame seed bun, completes the burger. Bottom of the Fifth also offers a Buffalo Blue Burger with bleu cheese and buffalo sauce, a breakfast burger with cheese, bacon and a fried egg, and a patty melt on toasted rye bread with grilled onions and American cheese. Fries, onion rings, coleslaw, and side salads are extra. Since Bottom of the Fifth is a sports bar, you must be 21 or older to enter.
Lucca Bar and Grill
Lucca Bar and Grill offers a very popular Lucca Burger ($10.00). A blend of ground chuck and brisket, the 8oz. patty is served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, spicy pickles, and housemade thousand island dressing. You can add a slice of cheddar, pepper jack or provolone cheese, if you desire. Thick-cut steak fries ($6.00) accompany the burger. Onion rings, side green salads, coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad, and a variety of chips are available as well. To complement your meal, Lucca has an excellent selection of beer on tap that includes Guinness, 805, Ballast Point, and others. Many inexpensive domestic and imported bottles of beer can be found as well. Most recently, Lucca Bar and Grill has started selling 32 oz. Growler Refills ($15.00) or 64 oz. Growler Refill ($30.00). Growlers are glass, ceramic or stainless-steel bottles used to transport draft beer, and have become popular in breweries. Essentially you have the convenience of a keg, but not the inconvenient size. Lucca also has bottles of wine, both domestic and imported to enjoy with your burger. Many bottles of wine are currently half off, a happy circumstance for those who appreciate fine wine with their meal.