Photo | Roshell’s Cafe & Diner
Roshell’s steer burgers are thin, 8-ounce patties on a sesame bun, available in more than a dozen varieties.
It’s polarizing. Ask 10 different Mobilians to name their favorite hamburger and you’re liable to get six different answers. Certainly every town has its go-to burger joint. My small hometown is famous for the burger basket at PDI, aka Phillips Drive-In. But here we are fortunate to have many great burgers, some of which have stood the test of time, others relatively new. While many of us are turning to the grill in an attempt to craft our own masterpieces, I thought maybe we should take a look at our best burgers on the Gulf Coast.
I’m not rating these in an order, just putting them out there. For anyone visiting and reading this, use it as a burger guide. Know there are many I’m leaving out. These are but a few of my favorites.
Let’s get the big names out of the way. Callaghan’s has the most award-winning burger in the city. Argue it if you wish, but the regular old bacon cheeseburger with cheddar is a killer. If you’re fortunate enough to make it for an early Wednesday lunch you may want to try the L.A. (Lower Alabama) burger. Considered by many to be Callaghan’s’ best menu item, the L.A. has the one ingredient Mobilians favor over any other: it’s stuffed with Conecuh sausage. The shame of it all is that it’s just a special. This is an unbelievable burger, but don’t expect to get it with fries.
Butch Cassidy’s is the jewel of Florida Street with its “soon to be famous” Butch Burger. Let’s face it — it’s already famous. The best part of this burger is it’s just a good, normal burger. It’s about the same size as the Callaghan’s burger with a couple pieces of thick, crispy bacon and dressed the way you like. I prefer lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles and more mayonnaise. I ask for rare to medium rare and onion rings.
Royal Scam is known as more of a high-end restaurant but has one of my favorites in their Black & Blue burger. The blackening seasoning with Gorgonzola and red onions has a bite soothed by creamy cheese. Baby greens and tomato on a brioche bun add the sweetness. It’s an elegant sort of burger-goes-to-college meal that goes great with my favorite french fries in the city.
I’m not one for gimmicky burgers. If you are, LoDa Bier Garten definitely has you covered with giant half-pounders featuring donuts, waffles, pineapple and even fried macaroni and cheese. Nestled in amongst the flair is the Courthouse burger, topped with pepper jack cheese, bacon and buffalo blue cheese butter. This is as wild as I get in the burger world, but it’s good.
Burgers have gotten large over the past decade, thick enough to hospitalize someone with TMJ. For Roshell’s Café and Deli it’s all about covering surface area. Their Steer Burgers are 8-ounce thinner patties on huge sesame seed buns. The Garlic Steer is perhaps the best of all the combinations but you can’t go wrong with any of the 15 or so options. As a bonus, your jaw will remain safe.
I have trouble saying no to a Dew Drop Inn hot dog, but the cheeseburger lures me away from time to time. This little cheeseburger is the perfect size (and price) with chili, mustard, ketchup and pickle. When I’m feeling extra healthy I order my steak fries with gravy. This place is the baseline for thin, small hamburgers in this town. It’s kind of trashy in a way that I like.
The Haberdasher has been an unlikely rising star in the Mobile food scene. Unlikely due to the fact that it’s a craft cocktail and beer bar, but with all the muddling and mixing you’ll find the kitchen is cranking out the best bar food in the city. The PFG burger is no exception. They’ve had other burgers but this has been my favorite. It begins with Mississippi grass-fed beef and continues with garlic herb kefir cheese spread. Dressed with spinach, charred red onion and tomato, this was an instant classic among the more manageable-sized burgers.
If there is a burger that is more legendary than all the rest, it’s the Pirate’s Cove burger. With one-third of a pound of Angus, it falls in the midsized range with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese. The only thing fancy about it is the special sauce, slightly sweet with mustard. You really get the flavor with the lettuce. When I think of a perfect burger, this one comes to mind. Ask for Lucia. She doesn’t take any nonsense but is a sweetheart who will get you your fries and onion rings on time to have with your cheeseburger that’s truly in paradise.
Every burger on this list is one you wouldn’t kick out of bed unless it was better on the floor. It’s hard to say which is best, but I feel this list can cover whatever mood hits you. When it comes to burgers I think “go small or go home” most of the time, but the big boys can be cut in half. Go find your own king of the hill, or better yet, send me your favorites. I’m always ready to grab a burger.