And then there were the burgers. In truth I rarely eat burgers, but when I do I indulge it’s mostly on the road. This great American culinary tradition has been subjected to so many influences over the years that you really could eat almost a burger a day and not see the same thing twice. I prefer things pretty basic when it comes to a burger, so I stuck with some simple places that seem to do a good job with a classic.
In Calistoga, I stopped into the Hydro Grill right on Lincoln Avenue. The pretty basic pub setup suited me just fine so I slid into a booth and ordered their hamburger after noticing a sign outside proclaiming it the best in town. It was a pretty good burger—beefy, sizable and well prepared, so consider me satisfied.The menu’s packed with pub grub, chili, fish tacos, quesadillas, calamari. I also enjoyed a pretty convincing bowl of gumbo. This is my kind of place, unpretentious, comfortable, with a varied menu, good grub and very fair prices.
In Napa I stopped by the Squeeze Inn, a spot, or rather mini chain, that was new to me. This is a burger from another world, not to miss for nostalgic dinners searching for the next messy burger. The hamburger was fine, with plenty of good stuff on it (pickles, mustard, tomato, lettuce) but the killer here is the cheeseburger. This is not your ordinary cheeseburger, but rather something right out of the 1950s. Once your burger is cooked on a griddle, it's covered with grated cheddar and then steamed until the cheese is all melty deliciousness. The cheese runs all over the griddle and with two deft swipes of his spatula your cook will carve out a square of grilled cheese that now includes you burger and place it on your bun. You really have to see this to believe it, but it’s outrageous. Not for the faint of heart but a real treat!