Just as my dear friend and fellow blogger Diana Dodge trumpeted her contributions to the 2016 issue of R/M Magazine, so do I want to boast a bit about the burger roundup I completed for the publication. Again, the images accompanying this story—wherein I sampled, then reported on, a burger from virtually every Rancho Mirage menu that lists one—were shot by the award-winning David A. Lee of www.DavidALeePhotography.com. Following my article’s intro, below, are just three of my favorites.
There are almost as many conflicting stories detailing the exact origin of the hamburger as there are variations on the theme, but a few things are irrefutable. Once upon a time more than 100 years ago, someone somewhere came upon the idea of placing cooked ground beef inside a sliced bun and serving it with varied toppings and condiments. The concept caught on, and in this country, Americans have elevated the hamburger to iconic status.
In Rancho Mirage, options abound in procuring this sovereign of sandwiches. In fact, so brilliant is the kaleidoscope that we’ve chosen to define “burger” as any protein (and yes, that includes cheese) within a starchy envelope. Below, please find some of the city’s standouts, to be had at eateries from fast food chains to the finest of fine dining restaurants (listed in alphabetical order). Do we really need to mention that each is mouthwatering in its unique way?
Catalan Mediterranean Cuisine
Awaiting you at this culinary ode to Italy, Spain, and California is its Mediterranean-inspired twist on the beloved American classic, the Kobe Beef Burger. A whopping patty of grilled Kobe beef is smothered in smoked mozzarella and served on a toasted brioche bun. It’s accompanied by house-made duck fat-fried chips, with a trio of tomato and smoked bacon jam, smoked chili aioli, and house-pickled seasonal vegetables completing the picture perfect gastronomical postcard. www.catalanrestaurant.com
Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion
Two things distinguish Roy’s Wagyu Burger, which comes capped with caramelized onions and truffle mushrooms: the Asian-inspired sunny-side-up egg that crowns the sandwich, and the togarashi aioli that incorporates seven different types of pepper plus black and white sesame seeds, orange peel, ginger, and chili pepper. The whole is served alongside a tower of onion rings. For fewer calories, sub the toasted brioche bun for a lettuce wrap. Chef Partner Adam Palffy prefers to stage it on four pieces of toasted King’s Hawaiian Bread. Ask your server, because that variation is not on the menu. www.roysrestaurant.com
State Fare Bar + Kitchen at The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage
Executive Chef Bruno Lopez wanted to round off his State Fare Prime Burger with the quite au courant bacon. But rather than use slices, he conceived a sweet jam made of chopped onion and bacon that are cooked together ever so slowly. The resulting caramelized mixture is joined by Hopscotch cheddar (California cheddar macerated in Scotch ale), arugula, aioli, and a pretzel bun—not to mention a bulging patty of Southern California, grass-fed, Brandt beef—and the sandwich is served on a large wooden board with house-pickled seasonal vegetables and a metal basket of fries. www.ritzcarlton.com/ranchomirage