As you know, for the past 45 years, I have rarely ventured outside the confines of the Mission. So when you proposed Super Duper, I was concerned, and when the editor approved, I was filled with fear and trembling.
I realize we are living in a post-pandemic world (even though the pandemic has not posted) which, with online order and delivery options, has erased many a neighborhood border. But once Burger Wars crosses the line, does the Mission become only a state of mind? Will the editor send us on far-flung journeys to review burgers from such remote and exotic places as Bernal Heights, North Beach and even … Oakland?
Super Duper. It’s a name that evokes the 1950s, though probably not for you. And you must realize it’s a chain. Not a big chain, but enough outlets to warrant suspicion.
I ordered a Super with the works, including “aged” white cheddar cheese.
The delivery was fast and (relatively) inexpensive.
The first thing to jump out at me when I opened the bag?
They advertise the Super as two quarter-pound patties, but these patties looked like they had put on weight. Call them covid patties. Comparing the Super to True Laurel’s patty melt is like comparing a battleship to a sailboat.
And from the first bite onward, the meat dominated. Thick and char-broiled, each patty was cooked on the light side of medium, emitting plenty of juice, or, if you prefer, grease. An overflow of abundant beefness, a messy hint of the Carnivore’s Idea of a Burger.
Throughout the meal, while my wife and I debated the latest covid numbers, a commercial jingle kept running through my mind; “It’s meaty, It’s mighty, it’s mighty mighty meaty.” Was the burger singing to me?
Forget the cheese, the lettuce, tomato, onion and sauce. Like excessive verbiage, they served no purpose other than to sog the poor, uninspired bun.
The fries kept quiet. A little greasy, firm and salty, but not too salty, they were what you would expect from fries to go. I am happy to report there were a lot of them, and when they got cold, they didn’t shrink or slink away.
Were it not for the beef’s sensory (and ideological) overkill, including the obnoxious jingle, I would rate Super Duper higher. Being a committed carnivore, if it cost 75 cents less, I would rate it Number One in the below-$10 category. —M.R.
For once, I don’t disagree with you. I don’t think you’re in immediate need of a psychological or spiritual intervention. The Super Duper burger is an all-out beef assault, for good or ill.
And I agree, too, that — at least in terms of burgers — it might be better to think of the Mission District as a “state of mind” instead of a strict geographical area. Clearly, it remains the latter: You know when you’re in the Mission vs. Bernal Heights, say. Yet the Mission’s borders do not contain any one member of the Holy Trinity of burger joints, among whom the real Burger Wars rage.
As far as I’m concerned, the big debate has always revolved around In-N-Out, Shake Shack and, you got it, Super Duper. Yes, they are chains. But they are chains for a reason. And no, I’m not saying they necessarily serve up the best burger in the city or The Bay. (I can think of at least one that beats all of them, but that’s for a future review.) These are the places to which burger eaters default, the eateries that draw the hordes, that always serve up their beef and buns and fried potatoes with a sprinkle of mystique.
So, I’m glad we’re playing in the big leagues now. But I have to say, since honing my burger-tasting palate over the course of this series, the burger I used to regard as “the best” (Super Duper) is the best no longer.
To put it simply: This burger epitomizes burger decadence. And some people are really into that. It is a dense mass of beef, cheese and grease, and the rest is a marginal afterthought. It is delicious and mind-blowing — a similar sensation, I’d imagine, as having a Schedule I substance injected directly into my veins. Wowzers!!!
The fries, covered in garlic and cheddar, are just as stunning and addictive. They were slightly crunchy, slightly soggy by the time they reached my house, but irresistible.
But it all comes crashing down too quickly. You may go to sleep earlier than expected, and you may feel a hangover for days. The next morning, my brain felt like a mummified sponge. There were perpetual beads of sweat on my upper lip, and I grunted my responses when I felt like giving them. I just wanted fruit.
Super Duper is a great burger, but it is the star that shines too bright, and burns you in the process. —J.M.