Warning: This is not like most of the reviews that appear in this space. Fatburger is part of a national chain. Its food isn't healthy, trendy or gourmet. More shocking still, some folks would consider it a fast-food restaurant. And yet, I rarely have been more excited to eat a meal, especially one consisting of a cheeseburger, fries and a shake.
Last week, Fatburger, a Los Angeles mecca for more than 50 years, finally opened its doors in Colorado Springs. And to be perfectly honest, I couldn't have been much happier. I no longer have to make a pilgrimage; the shrine has come to me.
Born in 1952, when friends convinced Ms. Lovie Yancey to offer the burgers they liked so much to the public, Fatburger long has been considered one of the best in the West. It's remained faithful to Yancey's demands for fresh ingredients and meticulous preparation to support its billing as "The Last Great Hamburger Stand." That might be a tad extreme, but really not too far off the mark.
Truth to the claim is in the patty itself. Made thick from top-choice freshly ground chuck (81 percent lean), each one is cooked to order on a flat-top griddle or over an open flame. After topping and wrapping, the burger is brought, juicy and piping hot, to your table.
Bulk it up with standard accoutrements like cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion or Fatburger's signature relish. Better yet, enhance the protein content by topping it with bacon, chili or a fried egg.
Burgers are available in three sizes: Baby, the eponymous Fat Burger (1/3 pound) and the King Burger (1/2 pound). If one patty just isn't enough, hearty eaters can double up. Chicken sandwiches and hot dogs also are available, but, to be honest, I've never wanted anything but a burger.
Fries come fat and skinny. I like the fat fries (akin to steak fries) for a change of pace, but the skinny fries are my bread and butter. They're long, cooked to a crispy golden brown and doused with plenty of salt. These, too, are made to order, ensuring they're fryer-fresh and never limp.
At this point, you've detoured so far from the straight and narrow road of healthy eating that there's no turning back. So add a thick and delicious milkshake, made with real ice cream and whole milk. No Fatburger meal is complete without one. Strawberry, please.
Most Fatburger staff wear shirts that say, "Finally something from L.A. with taste." Others must agree. During the lunch rush, the queue stretched across the restaurant, out the door and into the parking lot. It took half an hour to get to the counter, and another 15 minutes to receive the food at the table.
Having waited more than two years since my last Fatburger, I found another 45 minutes totally worth it. But don't trust me. I'm just another immigrant ruining this town. Go find out for yourself.
-- David Torres-Rouff
7465 N. Academy Blvd.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to midnight.