Day Two: Once you POP, you can't stop.
My alarm goes off. Sun peeks through the blinds. I feel the familiar slow seep of grease washing over me. I’m experiencing early onset meat brain. Usually, this doesn’t hit until the final lap of Burger Week. It’s never happened on Day 2. Maybe I’m not the burger queen I used to be…
I arrive at work, a bit melodramatic (but honestly, when am I not?). Today, Adam and I plan on going to Comstock Saloon. This burger piqued my interest because there’s (say it with me) chips inside. Like every inventive middle schooler, I fully support the idea of chips in a place where they don’t seem fit. A prime example: Doritos in a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.
Alas, the stars are not aligned. We show up at exactly 12pm, only to find out they’re closed. It turns out, Comstock only opens for lunch on Fridays. In a panic, we paw through my SF Burger Week spreadsheet to find a quick replacement.
“TO POPSON’S, AND STEP ON IT!!!”
…is what I would have shouted at the Uber driver if I was in a movie, but since it’s real life and manners still apply, I just internalize my anxious discontent. In the FiDi traffic, I have time to decompress, and realize: what’s burger week without a little drama?
We get to Popson’s where the walls boast decals about the farm fresh ingredients from Napa, and the 12-16 hour bun rising process. Since it’s on Market Street, this could all just be a bit hullabaloo – almost all SF restaurants have a few fake claims about “BEST BURGERS IN SF!” and I always wonder, according to WHO?!
I was so confused by my hunger that I panic-ordered and got the “Fun Guy” burger, which has sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, lettuce, aioli, and truffle cheese. The only problem is I don’t like mushrooms. Luckily, I had the foresight to ask for it without, but that left me with just caramelized onions and truffle cheese.
The burger arrives and I start to believe the 12-16 hour bun hype. It’s one of the best buns I’ve ever experienced. It’s almost brioche like with a nice pinch of toasted sesame. Truffle oil is always dangerous because many let it overpower the rest of the flavors, but the truffle cheese isn’t too overwhelming and adds a great flavor. The lettuce is fresh, and I can tell with each bite that the ingredients are high quality. I suppose the signs don’t lie at Popson’s. I rate it a 9/10.
I get back to the office and secretly unbutton my pants out of necessity. I’m putting the POP in Popson’s, am I right?! I make a note to wear loose fitting pants tomorrow so I don’t have to make the same terrible joke again.
I look over to my left and see Adam is sketching new logo designs for “Ihadtheburger.com”. It’s beautifully heartwarming to see his newfound passion formulate, almost like watching a baby take its first steps.
My stomach rumbles fiercely, but I force myself to wait until after my soccer game. I won a free soccer ball contest from the rec soccer league, which fuels me with adrenaline. As a result, I play my heart out, and my appetite pays the price. I need to find a burger, STAT. I google “burgers near me” and discover a place only a few blocks away called Papa Mak’s.
I roll up and immediately my eye is drawn to the giant hand painted cheeseburger. I make a mental note to create one for my own home. I’m impressed by the menu – THIS is the kind of burger innovation I’m looking for. They have a pizza burger. They have an herb lamb burger. This feels like what I’ve been searching for all along.
I’m deciding between a few different options but my meat brain takes over and it isn’t interested in burgers with a ciabatta bun. My heart tells me I need to try a burger with Mak’s sauce. I go with the stuffed blue cheese burger. Papa Mak’s was set to close in 30 minutes, so as a courtesy to the restaurant staff, I take my burger home, even though my stomach is screaming at me to dig into it.
I finally take a bite, and I could cry. It’s so good. I think I hear the faint sound of angels singing a chorus. I knew I ordered a “stuffed blue cheese burger”, but blue cheese is actually STUFFED inside this patty, melting beautifully into every crevice of meat. It’s a literal EXPLOSION of flavor. The rating is difficult because I wonder if part of it has to do with my extreme appetite, and it’s still so early in Burger Week, but I rate it an initial 9/10.
However, I may have to update it to a 10/10 as the week progresses. It may even take my highly coveted “Best Burger in San Francisco” and potentially even “Best Burger in the West”. I almost don’t want to tell anyone about this gem I found in the Sunset so it can be my little secret.
The Papa Mak’s burger was so good, I feel myself changing... I run to the bathroom, and see something unusual in the mirror. At first, it’s just a few strands of hair standing up. A bit of blond, here and there. Then, a flame appears on my shirt. Unfashionable sunglasses hang on the bridge of my nose. I look down to see I have cargo shorts on. I look back into the mirror and touch my newly grown goatee. I let out an unprovoked “BOMB.COM TASTY!”
It’s happening again… I transformed into my Burger Week alter ego: Guy Fieri.