Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Honest Abe's Burgers & Freedom

Most burger places have an "awesome sauce." But often, they're misusing the term because we as a culture have forgotten what it means. "Awesome" doesn't mean "cool," "radical," or "really neat," it means choirs of angels, speechlessness, and being unable to comprehend the greatness before you. When you see the words "awesome sauce" on the menu at Honest Abe's, they don't mean it cowabunga style.
"We make honest burgers for honest people," their website explains, "Get off the internet and come find out for yourself."
Honest Abe's Burgers & Freedom is shoved in between the Valentino's To Go and Great Wall Chinese at Meadowlane Shopping Center on 70th and Vine Streets in Lincoln, Nebraska. They are open from 11 am - 9 pm Monday to Saturday (closed on Sunday). There is seating room for 24 people plus eight stools against the wall where you can wait for your food to go. There is hardly ever an empty seat, even by the wall, and as soon as a chair is vacated, someone waiting snaps it up. On a busy day, it can take close to half an hour to get your food.
It's worth it.
And you need to be able to appreciate Honest Abe’s, so it’s not the kind of place that you can go a couple times a week for lunch. If you do, it just becomes that place you go for lunch. It becomes, “yeah, whatever.” Honest Abe’s is not "yeah, whatever." This place is a treat, a place you go when you need a gastronomic high five. It’s the food equivalent of traveling to a remote spot to get an amazing view of breathtaking scenery, and it would be sad to ignore the gorgeousness if you decided to commute past it every day instead.
You can decide for yourself how often to allow Honest Abe’s to grace your taste buds; if you go too often, you might find yourself saying things like, “This is a good burger,” and Honest Abe’s deserves more. My personal self-imposed length of absence is anywhere from two to four months. It seems like a long time to wait to eat at a place this fantastic, but as I said, appreciation is a necessary element in the Honest Abe’s experience.
Also, you need to go when you're hungry. Pretty much any food tastes like ambrosia from the archangels’ buffet table when you're hungry enough, but if you skipped lunch and then hit Honest Abe’s at 4 pm, that first bite will have you feeling guilty that someone may have accidentally slipped you God’s main course.
They have a rotating menu that you can keep up with on facebook so that you don’t miss anything, but they also have a few fixed items (my husband always gets the “United States of America”). When you've allowed enough time for enjoyment of the food and are ready to speak again, any one of these burgers should have you saying something along the lines of: “That was one of the most delicious things I've eaten in my entire life.” Saturday I had the “Hotel California,” (a rotating menu item that could be gone soon, so don't wait to get there and try it!) and my response was, “How do they do it?” I glanced suspiciously toward the kitchen and reasoned, “One of them must be a wizard.”
It doesn't matter that the dining room is tiny or that they only have 6 different fountain drinks to choose from (they also sell bottled “Mexican” Coke). Yes, their parmesan truffle fries are good, you can substitute a vegan patty on any of their burgers, and the Sasquatch cookies are awesome (baked fresh and sold from the tiny building across the parking lot that used to be an ATM). Many visages of our sixteenth president decorate the walls and counter, but don't let any of that distract you from the real reason that you want to go there.
The greatest burgers ever.
The first thing on the menu (and coincidentally my favorite fixed menu item) is the “Greatest Burger Ever.” Nobody is being modest, here; when they say “Greatest Burger Ever,” they mean it.

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