Eric Carlson, 1998

Burger Bar
1101 S. 1st
(408) 293-0900

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 and children."

"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."
Dave Hickey

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.