Burger Queen - The best of D.F.

All eyes were on me. I took a big bite and started to chew. Before I could even swallow, Caroline, her lips trembling, blurted out ”So how is it?”. “¿Que tal está?”, Gabriela couldn’t help chiming in. “I don’t usually eat these, I just don’t KNOW – I’m not THAT kind of American”, I pleaded. It was a hamburger tasting at Barracuda in Mexico City. Nobody budged. “I’m a Mexican citizen”, I continued to protest, flashing my voter identification card. “An EX-gringo”. Blank stares. Hugo countered, “But you people KNOW about hamburgers, that’s what you EAT in the US”. “No, I grew up in New York City, we ate calzone, pizza, knishes, falafel, hot dogs maybe, but not ‘burgers’.” My protests were to no avail. I gave up, nodding in accordance. “OK; it’s very good, juicy, flavorful meat, bun has substance – I like the salsa. But the fries suck”. In unison, they nodded in approval. Reminds me of the time my friend Elena, from Madrid, was visiting Mexico and, being an Española, was asked to dance ‘her’ Sevillanas at a party, despite protests that she was not from Andalucía and didn’t know how. She eventually grabbed a fan and danced. Sometimes you just can’t shake the stereotype.
I’ve never particularly liked hamburgers. They are not comfort food for me. Not to say that I haven’t eaten my share of steamed masses of juiceless gray meat, served with equally pallid fries. So I ignore all “best burger” articles. I think the phenomena of the $40 hamburger is philistine. I won’t be stopping by the much hyped Umami Burger next time I go to L.A. And I’d hoped that I’d never have to write about them. I should have known. That critical moment at Barracuda was just the beginning. I suspected that, as a critic writing in English, I’d eventually be asked to attack this dreaded subject. And so it was. “Your next assignment: Best Burgers in Mexico City” my editor wrote. Resigned, I set to work. I’ve been eating burgers this week. No, I haven’t joined the ranks of patty pushers, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. There are some very decent facsimiles of the American classic south of its border, and, not surprisingly, some Mexicanized adaptations that give the gringo version a run for its money. According to Bay area food maven Nancy Silverton (and she must have been paid to say this) a good burger is the sum of its toppings, bun, cooking method, texture, ingredients, ratios - all play a factor in determining the best in any given area. Here goes.
Barracuda DinerAv. Nuevo León 4A, Colonia Roma
Tel. 5211 9480
13:00-02:00 Sun-Wed, to 03:00 Thu-Sat
This is the capital’s only US style diner – or better said, a contrived approximation of one. It is many expat’s first choice for burgers, which are offered, in myriad variations; they also do good milkshakes. Evenings it becomes a bar/hang-out and in the “wee small hours of the morning”, as Babs would sing, a post-disco re-fueling stop. And the fries have improved.
Michoacan 168, corner of Mazatlan, Condesa
Tel. 5256-0950
Open Mon,Tues., 1-11PM, Wed-Sat 1PM-12:30AM; Sun 1-6PM
SobrinosÁlvaro Obregón 110, corner of Orizaba, Col. Roma
Tel. 5264-7466
Same hours
These upscale bistro-style brother restos offer a mix of Mexican and French classics, but the hamburgers happen to be extraordinary, well seasoned and beefy, just this side of plump enough. The ‘papas a la Francesa’ are crispy and golden and have real potato-y flavor – Jim thinks they’re the best he’s had in Mexico.

Embers Steakhouse
Ejercito Nacional 840 Between Séneca & Moliere, Polanco
Tel. 5282-1905
Open Sun-Wed 11AM-10PM, Thur-Sat until 2AM
This old Polanco warhorse has been in business since 1958, so they should know what they’re doing. “Reminiscent of Mexico’s yesteryear”, their menu proudly proclaims in English although somehow I doubt that anywhere in Mexico’s past existed such a burgercentric place except right here. They do try hard to please. There are 43 different combinations of burgers on the menu including such odd offerings as The Hula Burger Hawaiana (pineapple), The Russian Burger (Russian dressing) and the ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ (filled with paté and olives sautéed in butter – I dared not ask). I chose the house special, with bacon, mushrooms and Oaxaca cheese. The fries are flavorful and a myriad of condiments are set before you, as is a copious salad bar which is included in the price of lunch.
Las Burger’sDirección: Río Tigris #72, corner Río Nazas, Col. Cuauhtémoc
Open daily 1-10PM, y Saturdays until 8.
Tel.: 5525-7227
‘Hamburguesas 100% de sirloin’ claims the sign, at this pleasant Colonia Cuauhtémoc spot. And so they are. The menu also includes Argentine empanadas and other south-of-the-border specialties.
Hamburguesas Memorables
Euler 152, Polanco -  Nuevo León 175, Condesa - Río Lerma 335, Cuauhtemoc, c/Manzanillo near Insurgentes, Roma, many other branches.
This chain may look like it serves fast food, but it's better than that. Burgers are satisfying, fries so-so. And prices are on the high side.
Taquería Los ParadosMonterrey 333, corner of Baja California, Colonia Roma
Open every day, 8AM until…
It’s standing room only at this table-less traditional taquería hence its name. Varying hours are listed, but they seem to always be open, morning to morning. The late night crowd might consist of a fascinating cross-section of worn out gay/straight bar patrons, off-duty working girls and policemen who happily devouring their succulent char-roasted morsels of goodness, all the while downing ice-cold horchata or beer. Los Parados offers real tacos al carbón that is, meats cooked over coals on an open grill. The salsas, hand mashed and set in gigantic molcajetes, are superior. And, yes, Mexican style burgers (that is, topped with spicy salsa, bacon, cheese, ham - about the richest thing ever wedged into a bun) are sensational. You may not be willing to go back to the old-fashioned US of A variety after you try them. There’s free parking next door for patrons.
Other standout “street burger” stands offering the Aztec variety are located at
The corner of Colima and Morelia, Colonia Roma – crowds gather here all day long and beyond.

Corner of Amberes and Londres, Zona Rosa- MP says “this is the ultimate junk burger, especially good after hours when you’re finished with the nearby clubs, you’re drunk and have a cute boy you picked up on your arm.”