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Hamburger America: One Man's Cross-Country Odyssey to Find the Best Burgers in the Nation [DVD] Paperback – Bargain Price, April 7, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

Review

"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  

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press; Pap/DVD edition (April 7, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0762431024
  • ASIN: B001Q3M5E4
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,840,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jason Kirkfield VINE VOICE on March 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By way of anchoring this relatively unknown entity: if you like Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, then you will love this. Hamburger America started as a documentary by filmmaker George Motz in 2005. After favorable reviews and a James Beard Award nomination, he expanded on his mission (and likely his waistline!) and thus was born the book. The version sold here on Amazon includes the DVD, although the latter profiles only eight of the hundred eateries.

To be brutally honest, and with no disrespect, I am not sure all the burgers in the book (or the film) *are* the best tasting burgers you are going to find across the country. George included entries not only for the flavor of the food (not unimportant, of course) but also because of the character, history, and even photographic quality of the restaurant itself. Some are probably here because they are just so unique (think peanut butter burger).

So does Hamburger America contain every great burger in the country? Of course not. Are all the burgers in the book tastier than your local hometown special? Not necessarily. Are they all exponentially better (not to mention healthier) than McDonald's, Burger King, and the rest of the fast food alternatives now dotting the landscape? Most definitely. Will Hamburger America enrich your soul, even as it weighs down your gut? Again, yes. This book provides a slice of Americana to go along with that all-beef patty.

The book itself is almost coffee table quality, full of colorful photos that tell us about the wonderful people and places we would encounter on our journey. Many family eateries are disappearing, and this book provides a Route 66 road map of sorts to catalog for future generations.
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This was a fun book, but after reading it once, I don't think I would read it again so it really wasn't worth buying.
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Needs updating. Not current information.
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Great book,but missing the DVD...If You want the DVD,I suggest just buying it seperately
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I bought the paperback version of this book several months ago and it included the DVD documentary movie version. Later I purchased the Kindle copy as well (I will explain why later in this review). I will break down my review into three sections, one covering each item.

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.
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First, I was struck by the quality of the book itself. Thick quality paper stock, ample photos, font size that doesn't require a magnifying glass to read and a dvd to boot!
Hamburger America is a tour through America highlighting some of the author's favorite burgers and burger joints. But more than that, through the interviews with the myriad shop owners and burger slingers I sense the joy that comes from being a business owner in America. The freedom to choose a menu, the freedom to assemble ingredients, the freedom to set prices and hours. And because these Americans are free to pursue their dreams they prosper while providing a great product that makes many people very happy.
The variety of burgers and toppings is amazing and the author truly shows his love of the subject. I'm planning a summer vacation around many of the restaurants highlighted in Hamburger America. Buy this book and enjoy America.
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George Motz's book, "Hamburger America" is a delight from beginning to end. Accompanied by an hourlong DVD highlighting some of the places the author has visited, Motz sets out to find the one hundred best places to find a hamburger in the country. He succeeds with gusto.

"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.
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