Huxtaburger and Denise // Melbourne

I’ve done it! I’ve found my favorite cheeseburger in all of Melbourne… well,  for the moment.

I’ve traveled through Melbourne often and far in search of a delicious, mouth watering burger. I’ve taken the tram, then train, the car and never a taxi, but I should have known – all I needed to do was walk. Huxtaburger is on Smith Street and Peel Street on the border of Fitzroy and Collingwood and about a 10 minute walk, 5 minute bike ride from my house. Bad or good? We’ll soon find out.

It’s a very small restaurant, but if you’re going down Smith Street you’ll easily spot it. They’ve got a great name and stand out theme colors. You may say something to yourself like, “Oh wow. That looks real yum. H-U-X-T-A-B-URGER. Can’t wait to go there.” It’s what I did last year before leaving to London* and look at me now!

Okay, okay, I’ll tell you about the actual hamburger. She’s called Denise (the hot one) (those parenthesis are not my own, they’re actually on the menu)(but she IS supppper hot!). She’s a Huxtaburger, meaning a beef pattie, mustard, mayo, tomato cause, cheese, lettuce and pickles, but for a dollar extra, Denise also comes with jalapenos and sriracha mayo. What a babe! The chipotle fries on the side are addictive because the seasoning is spicy as and who doesn’t love setting their mouth on fire. Everything comes so nicely packaged, I wanted to order more to see what other patterns they would used for serving. How adorable is the bucket of chips! That’s beside the point though. The points is: you have to go and tell me if you enjoy it as much as we do.

We went in the late afternoon and easily found a nice wooden table complete with red benches. But Jack told me it gets packed during lunch time, which I chose not to believe since I’m bitter about him going to Huxta and having HER without me. Either way, for the quality and prices (Denise is under 10 bucks!) I would ask a stranger to share a table with me any day.

*If you asked me for advice on planning a trip based solely on the consumption of one burger, I would most likely tell you about London’s El Chapo because 1) read this and 2) Denise tried to steal my boyfriend.  

The Daily Catch / Boston (Favorite)

I’m over the moon to be writing about The Daily Catch because, wouldn’t you know it, it’s my favorite restaurant in Boston! It took all of three years to find a favorite, but better late than never. The best part is we met The Daily Catch by chance. It makes sense though, I feel like that’s when the truly amazing, inspiring life stuff really happens.

My parents and I took the Amtrak at from Penn Station NY to South Station Boston and arrived at 11am with some time to kill. Giacomo’s Restaurant in the North End on Hanover Street was close to us and strongly recommended (with warnings of a long wait and a promise that it was all worth it). So we got in our rental car and tried to maneuver through the impossibly confusing one way streets of Boston in search of warm pasta. (Nothing about driving in Boston makes sense!) After a ton of wrong turns and misread parking signs we found ourselves infront of Giacomo’s. It was closed.

With huge disappointment and headache inducing hunger, we kept walking down Hanover Street. Not one restaurant seemed like it would deliver what was assured from Giacomo’s, so we kept walking until we peered through the windows of The Daily Catch.

There was only one table open in the small, cozy restaurant occupied by only 3 staff and no more than 20 customers. The all consuming smell as you open the door to enter confirms the fact their speciality is Calamari, the green awing only reinforces it.

There were no menus, only a large chalkboard detailing their offerings. Even with all the mouth watering options, it took me about 5 seconds to decide on the Putanesca; pureed olive, anchovy butter, sautéed with mushrooms, onion and peppers, with homemade black pasta. I’ve had black pasta before, but this dish was different than anything I’ve ever tasted. It was strong, creamy and full of flavors, yet still light with a olive accented aroma.

We also tried the fried calamari and the meatball calamari for appetizers. The fried calamari was as delicious as I hoped and though it would be. The meatball calamari is a different story though. It’s not for everyone (dad), but if you like it you won’t be able to get enough (mom and I).

A word to the wise and thrifty: Don’t be fooled by the super cool way your meal will served if your order the entree portion. Just because it comes in a pan doesn’t mean you’ll be able to gather enough energy and enthusiasm to finish it, especially if you also order appetizers.

This is the type of place that invites conversation. As we were walking out, the party of four taking out table asked what we had and how it was. We raved, and sang, and recommended, and laughed, and said our goodbyes. I just wanted to keep telling people about it.

I can’t imagine how packed the place must get for dinner on the weekends, but I can imagine myself waiting in line with a cold hot chocolate in hand regardless of the wait time.

In-n-Out Burger // San Francisco

Since I’m going back to Australia the 24th and I’m terrified my family will not commit to the 25-ish hour flight to visit me, I’ve been devoting all my free time to them. We’ve been on the road going from BU soccer game to BU soccer game to spend time together. This translates into a lot of on-the-go food which, coincidently, has caused a huge wave of wanting and missing In-n-Out Burger.

In-n-Out Burger was a long time coming for me. Everyone has heard of it, but only the lucky few living in west of the country get to enjoy it. And tourists. And probably some business people during business trips. After my trip to San Francisco, I am one of those lucky tourists.

As many deliciously outstanding restaurants as there are in San Francisco (such as Mama’s), I could not skip a In-n-Out Burger meet and greet. It feels funny; wanting to visit a fast food joint as badly as any other specially recommended restaurants even though I’m not an avid fast food eater.

The feeling of walking up to In-n-Out Burger was one of familiarity and comfort. It was like, what I imagine, finally meeting your life long pen pal in person is like.

When I skipped up to the counter, the clerk recognized my enthusiasm and matched it. They are the happiest fast food employees on earth, some say. I couldn’t help it, I was beaming with excitement! I already knew about the Double Meat Burger (two pure beef patties hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, spread with or without onions, stacked high on a freshly baked bun), and I just wanted it in my hands.

To be honest, I was a little confused during the first few bites. It felt like I had been tricked, like I hadn’t just eaten a burger and fries. I even contemplated  ordering another just to feel like one usually does after having burger. But then I got it. Their belief regarding healthy and quality food isn’t just a ploy, it’s all true and I could taste it.

My hands were not greasy, I was not grossly full, my fries felt dry (in the best way possible), I didn’t even want to nap. I was in awe of the carefully toasted bun and the juiciness of the beef. I would have gone back and back again had we not been on our way to the airport!

In my normal life (the non-traveling-and-being-my-sister’s-biggest-fan-life) I go out of my way to make sure I never give into that inviting yellow M, because when I’m hungry and in a hurry is the only time it’s ever even considered.

Right now, in this rented black Jeep driving from Dartmouth College back to Boston University, I can’t help but wish for an In-n-Out burger to magically appear and save me from the extra crispy chicken of KFC.

a request to my unborn children

One thing you should know about me is that I love birthdays. I love birthdays! I do! I’m not scared about getting older for that reason. With each birthday comes change and new adventures that I welcome with open arms and a two story vanilla cake. As long as I feel like I’m living my life the way I want to then bring on the wrinkles, and the canes, and the gray hair, and the hearing problems.

I do have one request though; a request mostly aimed directly at my unborn children and my years-away-from-being-born grandchildren: When I’m older and you’ve set time aside to spend a quality afternoon with your favorite grandmapants, for the love of buffets, please refrain from taking me hostage and treating me to Sweet Tomatoes.

I know I’m old(er), I can’t really understand what you’re saying, and probably chew my food a bit awkward, but I hope you understand that I’m still a human being and want to have new experiences. I would rather feel completely out of place at a youthful restaurant than a room full of my energetic peers. If at least for that one day, I want to go somewhere you’d eat if your grandma (I) wasn’t there, somewhere I would never go on my own.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a fresh and self-made salad from Sweet Tomatoes. I mean, how could you not enjoy unlimited pizza, cornbread and mac & cheese? But I’ll save those outings for my super hip friends in the nursing home, not my sweet, thoughtful, and clever family.

If my memory starts to fail me and I say I’m okay with going to Sweet Tomatoes, (like my great grandmother does with us) kick my cane from under me and show a printed version of this request. I will believe you.

Yes, I know I’m getting way too ahead of myself. You’re probably right.