After raving about this burger time and again, Ian finally took me to get one at his favorite poker spot, Binion's. He said it was hands down the best burger he's ever had, which is a bold statement coming from him. Although he tried not to get my expectations up too high, he couldn't stop talking about it, so I had to see what the fuss was about.
The first time he went he sat at the counter and had the chance to speak with the manager who told him the same man has been forming the burgers by hand for the last 45 years, which is almost as long as McDonald's has been around. The Binion's own ranch used to supply the beef, but now it comes in from elsewhere. We lucked out by not having to wait in line, which can take as long as twenty to thirty minutes during peak times (almost anytime according to Ian). We went late Sunday afternoon and were able to walk straight up to the register to order, although the place was packed when we got there. A plain burger costs $4.95 and a cheeseburger costs $5.95, fantastic deals considering what some burgers are going for these days, like the kobe burger with fois gras that costs upwards of $70 at Hubert Keller's Burger Bar in Mandalay Place. Ian's argument for this being the best burger is that you don't need anything special to make it taste better. He likes his burgers with cheese and only cheese, which allows him to judge burgers based on just three components - meat, bun, and cheese. Binion's Burger hits on all three cylinders. You can see the meat glisten with its own juices and fat as it sits perched on a soft and yeasty bun that tastes like the dinner rolls they used to serve at Tony Roma's. The cheese just barely sweats as it clings to the burger without running off and leaving you with a translucent film of what used to be cheese. Although I like my burgers with all the fixins, I have to agree with Ian; it's a damn good burger and probably the best I've had, too.
The menu is simple but not limited to burgers, and everything is made from scratch in house. I didn't see a single person that didn't have a burger in front of them, however, so I can't vouch for the rest of the menu. The burger comes with really good potato salad, but for a dollar more you can sub it out for another form of potato, french fries. Both were great so it really just depends on what you're in the mood for. I don't like to encourage Ian to go to casinos, but in this case, I'll have to make an exception.
Tip: If you're looking for a really good deal but don't feel like a burger, head to Benny's Bullpen bar where you can get a sixteen inch pizza and a pitcher of beer for $10. Valid Mon-Fri from 5PM to 1AM and 10AM to 1AM Saturday and Sunday.
Today's food rating: 9
Ambiance: 5.5 (it is in the middle of casino, yet the people watching is fun)
Would I go back? ABSOLUTELY, THIS IS A BACKYARD BURGER AT ITS BEST