1101 S. 1st
Dave Hickey maintains that the best Mexican food in San
Jose is found here. I find that very hard to believe, but can't
disprove the outlandish notion until I do the science. Five for
$3.65? How did that combination come about?
Established in 1953 by Albert A. Berger (Mar. 12, 1917
- Dec. 18, 1998)
Albert's motto was Good Food at Reasonable Prices, and he kept
his word. At one golden moment it was possible to purchase 10
hamburgers and a quart of ice cream for one dollar. In the mid
1980's Albert managed 30 restaurants. What remains is the Burger
Bar and two Burger Pits, one in the Valley Fair parking lot,
and the other at Kooser and Blossom Hill. The era of mom-and-pop
restaurant chains is gone forever.
Review by Dave Hickey:
"I have dined at 21 in New York, Casa
Botin in in Madrid where Hemingway celebrated the roast suckling
pig, Ernie's in San Francisco, and the swank spots of San Jose
that are feted by Ms. Himmel (food
writer - San Jose Mercury News). There
is no better food anywhere - anywhere - than that that is served
at the Burger Bar, since 1953. I am embarrassed to say that I
can't speak for the entire menu because what I have ordered is
so spectacular that I don't want to venture off to other selections.
'Five tacos for $3.79' is gastronomical ecstasy. I had my daughter
and her friend with me when I stopped. Naturally, I got the 'weird
Dad doing something strange again' charge, and I had to get my
order on my own. While waiting, I looked out to the 'breathed-on'
milk-blue sky of the San Jose autumn afternoon, and I was able
to rebond with a Lockheed brother who had been retired and gaining
weight for twenty years. The Burger Bar, since 1953, is always
crowded, and it is a favored spot of motorcyclists, who are,
it would seem, more discriminating than truckers. When I got
my order, I chose to dine against the side of my car rather than
upon the tentacle-paw seat of one of the stylish metal octopus
tables provided in front of the restaurant. The first bite of
the taco brought to my senses the experience of a perfection
so absolute as to cause those involuntary, shuddering spasms
that follow a satisfaction attained. Normally I inhale the contents
of the bag, dump it in one of the many garbage cans provided,
and drive on so well fed that I only feel happiness for hours
thereafter. On this occasion, my daughter emboldened herself
to taste one taco. Thereafter, a scuffle of children (not unlike
the eagerness of the pigeons and starlings that attend the diners)
ensued over the remaining bag contents. It was food fit for angels
"I swoon for the Burger Bar,
since 1953, like I would for one of the many beautiful women
that wait in its long lines. Like 'Show Saturday' in England,
let it always be there."
Nov 1998. Made pilgrimage to Burger
Bar for tacos. Casa Botin?
Dec 1998. Stopped in for five hamburgers.
They come heavily laden with relish, with a distinct charcoal
burn to the meat. But still a good value.