Finding the burger joint, part 1: Giant Burger
Greetings Eugene Daily Newsers! I am the Fast Food Junkie, and I’m not sorry. I am here to represent my local culture – a land of the big chains, but also diners, delis, carts, cafes, shacks, huts, and holes in the wall. I have nothing against the wine and cheese set; I just have different tastes and a more blue collar style.
Every so often, it just pays to go off in search of the perfect burger. But this time around I want something more. I don’t just want to find the burger, I want to find the burger joint! The burger joint: a classic, local, family place, no alcohol, just good food and friendly atmosphere. Mostly regulars eat there, but stop-ins are just as welcome. Maybe you know the place! My first stop on this quest was Giant Burger, located on the corner of 38th and Main St. in Springfield.
The place looks very family oriented and nostalgic from the outside, and has looked that way at least since I first arrived to this area some 15 years ago. As I pulled up to lock my bike, however, I realized there was more to Giant Burger than meets the eye. There is a small lottery set up in the back and they do serve beer. Though not technically fitting the description of the burger joint I was looking for, I decided to press on because the gambling section (other than Keno) was well separated from the main room and they served no other type of alcohol than beer. And yes, I was wanting lunch.
The interior is a sweet little setup with tables, booths and a small counter. When I arrived at 1 pm there were already about 12 people in the place enjoying lunch and there was traffic in and out during the whole lunch hour. The place is seat-yourself and the menus are waiting for you at the table. Despite only one server working the counter, and what was apparently the end of a lunch rush, my order was taken within 5 minutes and I had my beverage within two minutes of the order.
The menu is immense for such a small place. Giant Burger offers burgers from 1/6 pound to a full pound. Basic toppings include mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato and red onion. All the extras are there: cheeses, bacon, guacamole, etc. They offer over 20 types of specialty burgers, and a garden burger for your vegetarian friends. Order a basket and select from five types of fried potatoes: thick natural cut, curly fries, wedges, jojos, or skins. Coleslaw, salad and onion rings are optional substitutes for fries.
There is also a variety of other American fare, over 15 kinds of sandwiches, and a good selection of soups, salads and low carb alternatives. Giant Burger sports the normal complement of beverages, plus old fashioned shakes, sundaes and desserts – all very impressive, but for me it was all about burgers. I kept it basic and got a 1/4 lb. burger basket, thick cut fries option, add cheese and 16 oz. Dr. Pepper.
The service, provided by the intrepid Judy, was courteous but brief – not surprising given she was holding down the lunch rush solo.
As I waited, I surveyed the patrons, an interesting mix of mostly older folks and some college aged youth. There were only two cars parked outside when I arrived, plus a few drive up working lunch to-gos while there, so it’s my impression that it’s definitely a neighborhood place, particularly for those who like a little Keno with lunch. The smell coming from the kitchen was making my mouth water, even moreso because the customer to server ratio led to the somewhat delayed arrival of my burger basket. So be aware there could be delays when enough customers are there. They pride themselves on making everything fresh at Giant Burger.
When my food did arrive, I was more than satisfied. The burger was cooked thoroughly, yet still juicy and firm, and the toppings were ample, but not overdone. The flavor was excellent. I actually ate too much of it before I realized I hadn’t taken a photo! The thick cut fries were thick, but not too dense, and the flavor was excellent. They take longer to cook, so watch out – they are hot when they get to your table! Giant Burger has received prior kudos from local media and it’s completely justified. I enjoyed the meal thoroughly, and there were a couple fries left over. My excellent lunch selection ran $8.00, not including tip – a little rich for starving students every day, but still a good value for us working stiffs who like a little more atmosphere than golden arches.
Overall, I was well pleased with my lunch experience at Giant Burger, and I am certain to go back. This place is definitely a burger joint!
Oh, and did I mention the $40.00 “5 lb. Challenge?” If you’re curious, or just hungry, head down to Giant Burger. They will be happy to tell you all about it! And they also deliver via Pony Express.