No. 85, Beef Burger at Rider's Club Café
Photo by Courtney Hamilton A classy burger.
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There isn't much to San Clemente's Rider's Club Café beyond burgers, beer, sandwiches and a token salad. The café is more accurately described as a shack, always brimming with more people than it has room for. The one narrow, dead-end street for parking is consistently full because of said people. But the smell of beef on a griddle beckons you away from your precariously parked car, and the burger makes you forget about it.
The burgers are ultra-customizable, with several protein, cheese, and topping options. Whatever your fancy, Rider's takes the basics and classes them up a little: the lettuce is a spring mix, the pickles aren't Vlasic, cheeses range from Goat to Muenster, and the beef is cooked to your specification. Rather than fries, the burger is accompanied by homemade chips and, if you remember to ask, pickled beets.
The most beautiful burger moment is when you lift it and observe the cheese oozing lava-like, taking some of the toppings with it. The meat is marvelously juicy, melding so thoroughly with the cheese and house aioli that it's butter-like. The pickle slices are so crisp and light, they might still be cucumbers. And the bun, while soft and fluffy, holds up to its oozing insides. The accompanying beets are bizarre and wonderful in their sweet and tangy contrast to the buttery burger.
Eating this burger isn't pretty--it's a multi-napkined feat.
86. Smoked Trout at Provenance
87. Small Plates at A&J Restaurant
88. Corn Cheese at Zoomak Asian Bistro
89. Pumpkin Curry at Bhan Baitong
90. Poke at Costco Tustin II
91. Pambazo at Tacos Radioactivos
92. Beef Pho at Pho Crystal Noodle House
93. Breakfast Burrito from Cafe Calacas
94. Koobideh Plate from Grill Cafe
95. Tacos de Cecina from Alebrije's
97. Breakfast Sausage from Da-Le Ranch
99. Tres Amigos Burrito from Piaggio on Wheels
100. Bacon-Wrapped Dates from Lola Gaspar