Fatburger vs. Thinburger.

I dig White Castle ‘cuz it’s the best, but I’m fly at Fatburger when I’m way out west.
– Horowitz/Diamond/Yauch

Unlike 1986, we now need not split best burger categories between coasts when comparing the mighty Fatburger with White Castle’s slyders; both are available within the Jersey City limits.  At one end of town, at the corner of Newark Avenue and JFK Boulevard, lies an outpost of the ancient and estimable White Castle.  At the other, in an area that reminds me of California’s wide-boulevarded corporate developments, is Fatburger.  Having tried neither until this week, I was unprepared for the vehemence and polarity of my reactions, and it’s safe to say that one of them is now one of my favorites, while the other disappointed.

Fatburger certainly has an advantage in the atmosphere department.  With a jukebox that plays soul, R&B, rock and oldies, as well as a friendly counter staff and actual table bus service(!), Fatburger is a lovely place to eat.  I grabbed a table and marveled at how odd it was to see crumbling Brooklyn-style co-ops (projects?) across the street from a garden-fronted corporate headquarters (reminded me of East Berlin’s Mitte).

Unfortunately, I can’t say I enjoyed the food as much as I was expecting.  Fatburger uses what they claim is extremely lean ground beef – unfortunately, health fanatics, this ends up robbing it of its greasy potential, making it too dry, though an attempt is made to gussy it up a bit by loading it with condiments (an egg would help).  I can’t say that the fries, which are available in “fat” (steak cut) and “skinny” varieties were much better – my skinny fries ended up tasting a bit like the famously revised Burger King spuds, and they were disturbingly salt-free.  The burger and fries are available separately, or in combos – my Kingburger combo, featuring the larger of the two available burger sizes, came out to approximately $8.75.

I didn’t give White Castle quite the same rundown, as I but briefly stopped in on the way back to the PATH from yesterday’s dosa run.  Feeling none too hungry, I ordered one slyder with cheese and forked over my 71 cents (with tax) to the bemused counterperson.  Noshing while walking, I admired the super-skinny meat, the chopped sautéed onions, and the perfect squirt of ketchup and pickle that reminded me a bit of a plain McDonald’s hamburger.  The cheese wasn’t exactly melted when I dug in, but it was no matter: the greasy, salty miniature possessed the perfect ratio of condiments to meat to bun, and I scarfed it down in a matter of bites.

I guess I didn’t have the definitive White Castle experience, as I had but one morsel-burger rather than six or eight, but I’ll certainly be back to do it right long before I cast my shadow across Fatburger’s door again.  

1 Comment

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One response to “Fatburger vs. Thinburger.

  1. Dan

    One White Castle? Wow… I always figured there was some sort of minimum order. Actually, that reminds me of a time in the 80s when I was at a brand new Castle on Broad Street in Philly (sadly, it’s no longer there). It was during my college years so I was in there, hungover, waiting for a sack to arrive so I could soak up some of the badness in my gut.As I was sitting there some construction guys came in and were amazed at the price (38 cents in those days for a plain). These were HUGE guys and new to the world of The Castle. They each ordered two, thinking they were getting a bargain for their money until the cashier and I explained why they were only 38 cents.

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