One should never underestimate the savoury satisfaction of a good burger. Finding the right meat-to-bun-to-condiments ratio is tricky, and can often yield messy or awful results. Enter the Burger Inn, an institutional staple in Calgary’s resto scene since 1988 — and, not to get all hipster, but it’s worth noting they were around before burger joints were popular.
With two locations, each with am unassuming storefront and retro sea foam green chairs and tables, the diners’ motif isn’t trying to be any more than just that: a diner made for casual eaters with cook-to-order service within minutes. At one point, there were five locations scattered around the city, but owner Kius Pahlavan decided to scale it down to just two, to keep better control over the quality and consistency in each venue, including the original 18th Avenue and 4th Street location.
What separates Burger Inn from the rest, and what epitomizes their slogan of “Unlike the Others,” are the speciality burgers — a menu worthy of Noah’s Ark, where every animal is welcomed. With lamb, pork, elk, bison, wild boar, ostrich, turkey, wild salmon and Kobe beef, the options seem endless for meat-lovers looking for something different to sink their teeth in. And with prices ranging from $3.59 to $16.99, even the most expensive burger (the 8 oz. Kobe beef) is within most mouths’ reach.
Each patty comes fresh, right off the grill. The smell and sight of the sweet and salty smoke radiates off of each panel, and engulfs the tiny eatery to essentially become your appetizer.
It’s hard to resist the temptation of buying two of everything, but my top favourites are the Super B.I.G. burger — a half-pounder, with special spices kneaded into the patty to give it a little kick — and the ostrich burger — a little drier and leaner than other white meats, but rich in protein and taste.
Pro tip: Splurge a little more and get the sweet potato fries and milkshake for the all around diner meal; you won’t be disappointed. The yam fries are lightly salted and not too soft, while the milkshakes are authentic, thick and sizeable.
And as an option, fire up your own home grill and order any one of the specialty patties in uncooked and frozen bulk (packs of six, ranging from $7.50 to $15.50).
#106-1711 4th Street S.W. 403-244-9293; 9669 Macleod Trail S.W. 403-252-4840
Image courtesy of GrahamKing.