Famous James Presents:
The Greatest Cheeseburgers Ever!

I've eaten a lot of cheeseburgers in my day. I have purchased them in big fancy establishments, greasy spoon diners, tropical hideaways, highway rest stops, and fast food chains in small towns, big cities, and even from a floating riverboat. If one could ever be called a cheeseburger connoiesseur, it would be me.

One day, while thinking up stupid ideas and listening to Jimmy Buffett cds, it seemed appropriate to share my experiences in cheeseburger-eating with my readers. He did this in the liner notes of his box set, but that was years and years ago. I think the world's ready for an update. Several reasons inspired this decision... First, if I ever manage to sell any t-shirts or other merchandise from this site, I could call eating cheeseburgers a business expense and deduct my lunches as related and necessary. I could also conceivably get noticed by any of the soon-to-exalted cheeseburger meccas and get sent lots of coupons and vouchers. All of you folks will also know where the best cheeseburgers in America are, and can plan vacations accordingly. Everybody wins! Especially my future cardiologist...

Anyhow... enough nonsense. In no particular order, here's a list of what I've found to be the GREATEST CHEESEBURGERS EVER:

Islands, Santa Clarita, CA
Combine a laid back tropical vibe, surf videos playing in the background, and gourmet quality burgers. I had a half pounder on a whole wheat bun. Absolutely incredible. I could eat a burger there every day and never get sick of it.

Cheeburger Cheeburger, Jensen Beach, FL
It's in the food court of the Treasure Coast Mall. They always impale an olive on an oversized toothpick, which is used to hold the burger together. It's pretty big, so the toothpick is more than a decoration. When I come here I usually get a "serious" burger with American cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, ketchup, and mustard. The onion rings are good too. You can also get a half order of fries and a half order of rings, in the event you're as indecisive as I am with regards to "side dishes".

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, Orlando, FL
This is mecca for cheeseburger eating. Though a bit overpriced, all fans of burgers should visit at least once in their lifetime. I went in with very high expectations, but Margaritaville delivers.

Nationwide Freezer Meats, Sacramento, CA
And in the category of worst name, best burger, the winner is - Nationwide Freezer Meats. This place is just east of downtown Sacramento, on the corner of 19th and H. The specific location is given here because you'll probably drive right by if you're not looking for it. Hell, there's a chance you could *walk* by and miss this place. It really just looks like an abandoned warehouse - there's hardly a sign or any advertisement outside. But you'll kick yourself if you skip this joint. Get a French Ground Steak Burger with cheese (it's about 1/3 pound), and hold the sauce. The rolls are incredible, and even though you'll gasp at paying $12 for a burger, fries, and a Coke, it's well worth it. It should also be noted that the plank fries are enormous - imagine a huge potato run through an apple corer. You will need extra ketchup. Extra points are given for the awesome displays of gluttony - there are pictures of people eating 10-patty burgers near the cash register. Trust me - forget the stupid mango watercress salad of whatever foofy midtown restaurant your girlfriend is trying to drag you to, ditch her, and come here instead. You'll thank me later.

Bubba's Burgers, Kapa'a, HI
On the sign hanging outside, there reads the following: "We Cheat Tourists, Drunks, and Attorneys". 2 out of 3 ain't bad, so I headed in. Ordered the Double Bubba Burger and fries. It was the messiest creation I've had in ages, but NOT greasy. Very juicy, but little grease. They only use beef grown locally, which did have a different taste than burgers I've eaten closer to home. It should also be noted that they use a TON of diced onion, and relish every bun. Trust me - it's worth it. Even if only to get a pair of shorts with "We Relish Your Buns" printed on 'em

Kalapaki Beach Hut, Nawiliwili, HI
Go upstairs for a gorgeous view of Kalapaki Beach. Eating cheeseburgers is always more pleasurable if you get to see some folks surfing nearby. Anyhow, this was 1/3 pound of Angus beef called the Big Beach. It was quite good, and although there's only room for about 20 people in the restaurant, it doesn't feel too crowded.

The Shack, Kapa'a, HI
Oh my Lord... Had to get the Double Shack Burger, which is almost a half pound of ground beef before you add the other stuff. The other stuff being... cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion... and SAUSAGE. Oh yes - it was as unhealthy and deliciously tasty as it sounds. I don't know what it is about Portuguese sausage, but it's a damn brilliant accompaniement to a huge cheeseburger. If you go there though, sit on the right side, closer to the bar. You'll get a nice view of Kealia Beach through the always-open windows.

Fannie Ann's Saloon, Sacramento, CA
Honestly, I've had better burgers. But my company at the time was very cute, so they have to get a plug here. And this endorsement is only here until that unnamed aforementioned cute chick who doesn't like me that way (y'know, that might have to be yet another character for the cast of FJ.com...) goes along with me to a better place... :-)

Tommies, Bakersfield, CA
Driving home from a vacation, I hadn't eaten anything all day. Saw a sign that read "Tommies World Famous Hamburgers". Of course, I had to go check 'em out... I was very impressed. The onions were diced, the tomato was juicy without sogging up the bun, and the bun was toasted. They lose points for being connected to a gas station, but frankly at the time I was so hungry I could have eaten the gas hoses. Best served with NO special sauce.

Johnny Rockets, Arden Fair Mall, Sacramento, CA
I actually discovered this place because of this website... When I get film developed for the concert gallery, I take it to a camera store in this mall. One day I opted for one-hour service and walked about to get some lunch. I went in and ordered the Smokehouse Burger, which is 1/3 pound of meat, Tillamook cheddar cheese, bacon, onion rings, and a smoky BBQ sauce. There's a 50s-vibe inside, and the counter help will even give you a few nickels to put into the jukebox. It's also a sin to go here and NOT order a chocolate malt and a Cherry Coke. I can't go into this place and NOT spend $20.

Cheeseburgers & More, Jupiter, FL
My picture is actually on the wall there. (It's got my name and the inscription "Go Noles" on it, if you should ever fancy looking for it yourself.) I ate the one-pounder, with a side of fries. Worth every agonizing bite (and the extra 400 points of cholesterol). I ordered mine medium well, with American cheese, lettuce, onion, and ketchup. It was served on a monstrous roll, which was surprisingly stable. You'd think that a roll big enough to hold an entire pound of meat would prove to be too doughy, or would fall apart. Not the case.

Hamburger Heaven, Palm Beach, FL
Nestled just about 1/2 mile north of the nauseatingly-highbrow and completely detached-from-reality Worth Avenue rests a classic 50's style greasy spoon. This place has been there forever, and has seen the evolution of the island from a quiet retreat for the super-privileged to the unwelcomed attention of Beverly Hills Extreme. It's gotta be the only place where you could conceivably see a long-haired vagrant like me sit at a bar three seats down from a Kennedy and not get wrestled to the ground by security. The burgers are served on buttered and toasted rolls, and if you order a shake, they'll give you the tin. That tin will fill your glass at least 2 times, and the shakes are made from real ice cream. Just stay away from the tartare, which they really do serve. By the way, it's bad form to go here and ask for it "well done" - blue blooded teenage soda jerks just don't have a dorky sense of humor, I suppose...

Dickey's, Dallas, TX
Primarily a rib joint, Dickey's was a one-time treat for me. I was stuck in Dallas, with no friends or family nearby. I wasn't in the mood to try anything new, so I settled for a cheeseburger. Surprisingly, it was very good. Good enough that almost 5 years later, I still have the 32 ounce plastic drink cup in my cupboard. Every time I use it, I think, "Man, Dallas sure sounds like a good idea right now..." Order your cheeseburger plain though - the meat picks up seasonings from the other stuff cooked on the grill. Very cool side benefit.

Jasper's Giant Hamburgers (Fulton Ave), Sacramento, CA
You're gonna have to just trust me on this one. I was hesitant too, when I noticed that the place had been bought out and the menu changed to reflect the addition of the "teriyaki burger" and "pot stickers" as a side... I was downright ornery at first... But if you go in and get the double giant cheeseburger, it still comes with perfectly shredded lettuce, 2 thick chuck patties, red onion, and 3 slices of cheddar. Put it on a bakery-style roll, and it's quite a magnificent creation.

Steak N Shake, Gainesville, FL
This place is on University Ave, and perfectly toasts its sponge-bread rolls. There's a little ring of crisp around the outside, and they use ground steak for the burger. They also have hot pepper sauce, which when used in an inappropriate manner, will result in your friend Dave crying in the bathroom and screaming, "I'm blind" at the top of his lungs. Use with caution. Also be aware that the fries are very small, and will either result in you needing to use a fork to eat them, or pounding them down like PikNik shoestring potato chips. Best experienced on a hot day after spending the afternoon TOOBIN down the Ichetucknee River.

Willie's Burgers, Folsom, CA
I debated leaving them off the list simply because they serve wine. Burger joints aren't allowed to serve wine. That's just a rule. Then I realized that it is a California burger joint, so I cut 'em some slack. Very tasty slab of meat, dripping with toppings. It's very messy, but worth it. I do recommend ordering it without their special sauce, but that's just so you can experience the greasy goodness of the extra cheese.

In N Out Burger, Rancho Cordova, CA
I know what you're saying... Big time chain places aren't eligible. But as a concept, this place works. No freezer or microwave on the premises. You actually see people slicing real potatoes to make fries. They don't make anything until you order it. Plus, they don't cave into the wussy mentality of serving something for everyone. On their menu is: Burgers, fries, shakes, and soda. That's it. No stupid salads. You won't find a vegetable here unless it's capable of being fried or topping a burger. Finally, a chain that gets it right... Get the double-double and an order of fries. But don't even try to bring it home. Trust me - eat it right there. You'll only mess up your upholstery if you try to eat it in the car, and the fries need to be eaten quickly.

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