According to the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, the first recorded use of the word “hamburger” was in 1902. Most authorities say it first appeared in the U.S. as “Hamburg steak”, after the place of its origin, Hamburg, Germany. But the town of Hamburg, New York persistently claims that it was invented there in 1885.
Either way, in 2011, Napa is home to an incredible variety of great burgers. And just when I think we’re doomed to repetition on this subject, new “great burgers” crop up. This week’s new stars? ABC Bakery, Bistro Don Giovanni, Downtown Joe’s, Ristorante Allegria, and Mustard’s Grill.
Hailey Trefethen regularly heads to ABC Bakery for her burger fix. “It's all about the buns, baby,” says Trefethen. “Made in-house, they have a perfect balance of moisture and flakiness. Good, simple ingredients and sweet pepper on the side round it all out. It starts with quality cooked-to-perfection ground chuck. Add to that a delicious choice of melted cheeses. A tasty side salad is a solid accompaniment and a nice departure from fries. Nothing beats ABC!”
“You can never go wrong with the one at Bistro Don Giovanni,” said Monty Sanders. "And Mustard's Grill does a great one, too.”
Marty Olmstead, long-time food writer in Sonoma and Napa who moved to Savannah, Georgia a few months ago, says you probably can’t go wrong with a Taylor’s Refresher burger in St. Helena. (Their sister restaurant is Gott’s at The Oxbow Public Market.) “Everything tastes better in that atmosphere.”
Olmstead adds, “I haven’t had a burger since 1973, but I love their fish tacos.”
Laurie Butin’s vote goes to the burgers at Allegria and Downtown Joe’s.