Now that summer has come to a close, St. Charles Patch is searching for the best burger in the city.
The recent review of sets a high bar for burgers in St. Charles. However, there are some other worthwhile contenders. Throughout the next few weeks, we’re visiting the best burger joints in the city to see how their offerings stack up.
There's no question that is more of a bar than a restaurant. I wasn't optimistic when the waitress told me the burgers were 99 cents, and there was a one drink minimum to order food. The drink could be soda, but you had to hydrate if you wanted to sit down.
As I hesitated, two men pulled up beside me and rattled off specific burger orders without looking at the menu. I decided to trust these strangers and ordered myself a drink while I looked over the menu. I’m glad I took a chance, because I might have found one of the best deals on Main Street.
Like all Main Street bars, Lloyd and Harry’s is a narrow, long building fronted by plate glass windows. The bar itself dominates two-thirds of the room. A string of half a dozen tall, circular tables line the opposite wall while four small tables lurk near the front windows.
The brick walls are painted black on bottom and red on top with ads for Budweiser, Miller Lite, Skyy Vodka and Captain Morgan taped directly to the paint. Speakers mounted to the ceiling suggest this is a loud place to hang out on weekends. During the week, though, the room is dominated by the four large flat-screen televisions tuned to football games.
The front of the very short menu has a few familiar fried appetizers such as pepper jack cheese, chicken tenders or toasted ravioli. On the back you'll find a couple of sandwiches before you get to the good stuff—the 99-cent burgers.
Ninety nine cents is a little misleading. All Lloyd and Harry's burgers come plain. You get to customize them with your choice of American, Swiss, cheddar or pepper jack cheese and toppings including lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, jalapeños, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, mayo, relish, onion rings, chipotle sauce, bacon, chili, A1 or sauerkraut. Each one costs anywhere from 20 to 50 cents.
At that price, I felt free to be liberal with my toppings. I had them add an onion ring, chili, barbecue sauce, American cheese and lettuce, plus a side of fries.
Before I get to the burger, I have to say I'm a big fan of the house fries. The pencil-width, golden brown potatoes were a perfect crispness and dusted with just the right amount of salt. There's nothing fancy about them. Honestly, these felt like french fries imported from 1985, back before everyone had to differentiate their fries so much they lost their most basic and tasty form. These are nostalgia fries done right.
My burger itself came on a plain white, grocery store bun that mashed flat the second I touched it. Like most plain white buns, it exists mostly so my fingers wouldn't get all greasy from touching the burger itself. The kitchen clearly knew how to assemble their ingredients. They put the lettuce beneath the burger patty and the cheese on top, then mounted the meat with an oversized onion ring and filled the onion ring's well with hot chili. All of that was doused with a squirt of barbecue sauce.
The burger patty itself was nicely thick but fairly dry. The thick, meaty chili helped moisten it up. The chili itself had a nice heartiness to it and a robust tomato flavor, but if you like a little heat in your bowl, ask for hot sauce to go with it. The gigantic onion ring was as thick as the burger patty. This was a worthy addition for only 50 cents. Instead of a bunch of loose onion straws, it held its form well and provided substantial crunch. The batter did a great job soaking up the chili, keeping the whole burger in one solid piece instead of falling apart under moist ingredients.
Since my dessert options were a cherry Red Bull bomb or a raspberry martini, I decided to stop with my burger and fries. I nearly did a double take when the waitress brought my check. An ice tea refilled thrice, the nicely topped and well-arranged burger, and a big basket of fries came to $5.72. Even though it's technically overtipping, I left $2. (My minimum tip, no matter how small my check.)
I pay more than $7.72 going through a Steak 'n Shake drive-through. The food was both tasty and substantial, the service was friendly and my order arrived lightning fast.
If you happen to be on Main Street and want a fast, affordable burger for lunch, Lloyd and Harry's is an excellent value for the money. I'm pleased to give the restaurant a B+.
Burger Battle Contenders:
Loco's Grill and Pub
Share your thoughts! Click on these St. Charles restaurants to give them a rating.
The Corner Bar