3585 Tamiami Trail, Naples, FL
2555 Tamiami Trl. N, Naples, FL
1833 Tamiami Trl N, Naples, FL
9005 Mercato Drive, Naples, FL
NAPLES — If you’re in pursuit of an all beef patty, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, there’s no shortage of places to go in Naples for a burger. As a Nation, we eat enough burgers annually that comparisons of the leading item on American menus can’t help but slip in.
A recent burger binge led me to check in on a few Neapolitan restaurants serving up the all-American burger. So, follow along and let’s take a quick look into how America’s favorite sandwich is served up in Naples.
First stop is the crème de la crème of burgers: the Capital Grille burger ($16). This extraordinary burger may as well be delivered on a silver platter. Is it the burger that makes the difference? The accompaniments that bring it from ordinary to extraordinary? Or is it the obligatory hot french fries sitting on the plate begging you to eat them slowly one by one? The Capital Grille chopped sirloin burger is delivered on its own customized plate with circular cut-outs in which a trio of sauce dishes containing ketchup, Dijon mustard and a house-made chive-and-garlic aioli are nestled. The burger arrives perfectly cooked on an onion bun with pickles cut lengthwise, purple heirloom tomatoes and brilliantly stacked, yet not too overpowering, onions.
Just when the mouth-watering burger is calling out for you to sink your teeth into, the waft of accompanying truffle French fries begs to be eaten causing a dilemma of what you are going to devour first. This burger is accurately characterized by Capital Grille as “almost too big to wrap your hands around” and “completes the journey from an all-American classic to an all new sensation.”
The next burger stop produced an all-encompassing Kobe day. Where in Naples can you find a Kobe burger, a Kobe hot dog and see Kobe Bryant — even if the latter is simply on the deli’s television set on ESPN? Head right on over too a wonderful Neapolitan secret: Jimmy P’s Butcher Shop and Deli. If there is such a thing as a healthy burger, this is where you should steer your car and order up the delicious grilled Kobe (Wagyu) burger at this father-son owned strip-mall hideaway. Kobe beef claims to have a 2:1 ratio of monounsaturated fat (the “good fat”) to saturated fat (the “bad” fat), making it a much better choice than any other beef.
Before you go, you’ll need to exercise your chops for this jaw-defying sandwich ($6 / $8 / $12). Piled high with traditional toppings, this lip-smacking, extra-napkins-required juicy burger is indeed burgerlicious! If you crave an exceptional burger with less guilt this is your place.
Harold’s Place at the Gulf Coast Inn, however, doesn’t necessarily win burger bliss. Although it has rated in some polls as Naples number one burger place for 20 years in a row, this is not a noteworthy burger in any way, shape or form. The kitchen of this outdoor poolside restaurant is located outside in a small tropical chickee hut where the generic, tasteless patty is grilled and served on a nondescript bun with skimpy condiments ($7.25). Perhaps the perceived quality of this boring burger is induced by a day of too much sun or a long spell at the bar enjoying ice-cold adult beverages on a hot Florida summer day.
Taking a complete 360-degree turn, another burger experience to try is the Sonic Drive-In, complete with speedy carhop delivery. These burgers are cooked to order, juicy and transported to your car with a mile-high mound of shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mustard, onions and ketchup. You can find delight in this budget-friendly establishment’s sandwich and amusement from its roller skating carhops. If you go, skip the cheesy “tator tots”; they will only feel like lead in your stomach for the rest of the day. Instead, go right for the burger of your choice, pile it high with condiments and wash it down with a cherry limeade topped with a maraschino cherry.
A great burger is matter of personal preference. It also has a lot to do with your state of mind. But whether it’s on a silver platter or delivered on skates, it’s an all-American classic. And this group is just a start on what can be a fun search for burgerlicious perfection.
Cassi Conrad-Lichtman pays for her own meals and doesn’t identify herself as a writer for the Naples Daily news. Where’s your favorite burger and what makes it great? E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org