Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Hamburger America: One Man's Cross-Country Odyssey to Find the Best Burgers in the Nation [DVD] Paperback – April 8, 2008
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
In the 2005 documentary of the same name (included with the book), Motz documented eight classic hamburger joints across the country. In the ensuing years he's broadened his horizons but not his tastes; here he presents a hundred hamburger spots in 39 states, each profiled with love and accompanied by mouthwatering full-color portraits. From Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Conn.-allegedly the oldest continuously operating hamburger establishment in the U.S.-to Olympia, Wash.'s Eastside Big Tom, Motz talks with the owners, employees and customers who keep the cuisine alive and eclectic. In addition to the traditional, Motz introduces readers to regional spins like Iowa's Maid Rite sandwich, a kind of sauceless Sloppy Joe; the green chili-topped burgers of Santa Fe's Bobcat Bite; and Sedalia, Missouri's "Guberburger," dressed with melted peanut butter. Motz limits his selections to independently owned operations that use fresh, not frozen, meat, the most shining example of which is Oklahoma's Joe Maranto, who raises longhorn cattle for eating at his nearby restaurant. Those with a soft spot for Americana, diner cuisine or delicious burgers will delight in this bright, quirky love letter to the American everyman staple, complete with contact information and recipes.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"A fine overview of the best practitioners of the burger sciences."—Anthony Bourdain
"As a French Chef who took an unexpected approach to the American burger, I'm glad that George has put together this fantastic guide to 100 of the classics."—Daniel Boulud
Top customer reviews
PAPERBACK VERSION: Although the documentary was produced first it is the book that first attracted me to George Motz's work. The success of his movie inspired him to write a book featuring 100 great hamburger restaurants. It's important to note that he is not claiming that this is the 100 best, only 100 AMONG the best. Motz's research seemed to be pretty thorough, but the cost of traveling to all of the cities that are home to great burger joints would clearly be too expensive to make this book profitable. Choices had to be made and many key cities were not visited at all. For instance, in Missouri he visits Kansas City but ignores it's big brother, St. Louis (home of Karl's Drive-in, certainly as good and unique as many that are included). Austin Texas is also featured but the much larger city of San Antonio (only 70 miles southwest) is excluded. It would be easy for anyone living in a city not listed to feel slighted but I understand that would have been impossible for him to travel to every city that is said to be home to a great hamburger joint.
That being said, let's talk about the ones included. It's almost impossible to classify something as iconic as the hamburger restaurant but I will try. I would divide the restaurants into three groups:
* Classic: These are restaurants that have almost as much historical significance as culinary. They are places that serve a standard molded or flattened patty with the usual toppings but the building or the restaurant's history is significant enough to make it a local legend. Chicago's Billy Goat Tavern and New Hampshire's Gilley's are good examples.
* Gourmet: These are the best examples of what a burger can be. It can be the quality of the meat (such as Kobe or other exotics), spices, seasonings, method of cooking or truly unique (and expensive) toppings.
* Unique: Unusual burgers can be created by either using an unique cooking method (steaming, deep frying, using loose meat, enclosing the cheese into the meat or vertical flame broiling) or by applying distinctive toppings (such as a huge dollop of butter, adding peanut butter, using a "secret sauce", adding pastrami, etc.).
It is true that a hamburger restaurant can embody two or even all three of these attributes (I would say that Santa Fe's Bobcat Bite comes pretty close) but most are famous for one thing or another.
I must mention that although Mr. Motz is very thorough in giving pertinent information I am sometimes surprised by his omissions when profiling a restaurant. In both the book and the movie he doesn't explain the significance of the Billy Goat's Tavern strategic location in-between Chicago's two major newspapers (which is why it has newspaper articles all over the wall), and although he mentions San Antonio New Mexico's Owl Bar and Cafe's role in feeding atomic researchers during WWII he forgets to mention that it's current fame is largely due to being the closest restaurant to the famous Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge which attracts multitudes of birdwatchers every year (the town only has a population of a couple of thousand).
The photography in the print edition (mostly by Motz himself) is very good (4 stars). The photographs of the burgers are not so slick that it looks like a food stylist made it into something that you would never recognize when you see it in person but they are appealing (although they could have been better lit). I would have liked more photos of the people but still, the quality and quantity of the photographs are quite good.
DVD DOCUMENTARY: This is George Motz at his most charming. Others (such and the Travel Channel and the Food Network) have given coverage to many of these restaurants but none with Motz's reverence for both the food and the people that produce it. His profiles of the owners and cooks show a true love and devotion for those that serve us well. Eight restaurants are profiled and they have, for the most part, been well chosen (I didn't think Sedalia Missouri's Wheel Inn Drive Inn is quite in the class of the others). These are unique restaurants with interesting history and great food. My favorites include The Meers Store and Restaurant in Oklahoma and Louis' Lunch in New Haven, CT.
KINDLE EDITION: Having decided to make it my mission to visit as many of these 100 restaurants as possible I wanted to have quick and easy access to the data for each restaurant. Beside the addresses and phone numbers Motz includes some important information that came keep one from looking like a tourist or a fool. Such as: which door to use (or even how to open it); what to say when ordering in order to sound like a regular; what NOT to say in order to avoid the wrath of the staff; what is the best hamburger or side on the menu; etc. I have downloaded it to my hand-held device and always have it ready. I have a Kindle 2 and the photos look pretty good on it, not great but decent.
There is a smattering of additional information in the book, such as "How to Buy Hamburger Meat", "Notable Burger Chains" and "My Favorite Sides". He also gives some recipes including his self-named "Motz Burger". This is an excellent, entertaining book and I highly recommend it to both the burger fanatic and the frequent traveler. Five Stars!
"Hamburger America" is a terrific book on many levels, but trivia is central to its core. Who knew so many Americans of Greek descent got into the hamburger business, for instance? And not all states make the cut. One might imagine not finding a really good hamburger joint in Hawaii, but Rhode Island, Kentucky and Wyoming are not represented either. Yet there are five in my small state of Connecticut that turn up in "Hamburger America", and naturally, there are lot of good ones found in California and Texas.
What does come through in Motz's book is the love of making hamburgers. It's amazing how many people have owned or have been employed by hamburger joints for twenty, thirty or forty years...or more! One finds butter bugers, tall burgers, steamed burgers, deep-fried burgers, huge ones and small ones. One of the best aspects are the mini-interviews with the owners and employees. A certain hamburger proprietor swears off ketchup, while another places ketchup containers at regular intervals on his counter and yet others barely tolerate the condiment, condemning it to "take-out". They often get adamant that their way is the right way and you'll often find customers who back them up to the hilt. By the way, you'll never run across another book that refers to "squishy buns" as much as this one does!
There are side dishes and desserts of course and the accompanying photographs are often tantalizing. Regularly included are looks inside and outside of the "joints" themselves. Motz has an ability to relate the flavor of the region, not just the burgers. I highly recommend "Hamburger America". It's comfort reading about comfort food.