Henry Cram and Justin Cram work for KCET and love burgers. This is their story.
Day Six of The Oinkster's Burger Week paid tribute to a burger that no longer exists, but whose name lives on in the hearts of fast food aficionados: The Taco Bell Beefer. That's right -- Taco Bell, the company most recently known for their Doritos-flavored taco shell, at one time had a Sloppy-Joe-like burger on their menu that contained all of the ingredients you would find in their Taco Supreme: ground beef, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, diced tomato, and sour cream. The Beefer was no flash in the pan. It existed from the late '60s through the early '80s. There are even websites and Facebook pages, today, with devoted fans demanding for the return of the Beefer. The Oinkster's tribute to the Taco Bell Beefer also incorporates Doritos in the beef patty in honor of Taco Bell's game-changing Doritos Locos Taco, which is responsible for boosting the franchise's sales last year.
The Oinkster's, Doritos Bell Beefer
The line at The Oinkster was as long in the morning as it had been when we left it the night before. It was such a beautiful Saturday that Justin and I decided to take lunch on the patio with his wife, Maye, and their two boys. When we arrived at the counter we were warmly greeted. With each burger, you get a commemorative pin, and if you are participating in the challenge, another colored wristband. By day six, you are pretty familiar with the staff. We ordered ube shakes for the family but they were out! It turns out that they made nearly a thousand burgers the previous night and had gone through the ube ice cream, as well. We ordered the shake of the month instead: Almond Joy.
The food arrived at the table. Very quickly, in fact. The burgers, presented in their usual red, plastic baskets, and folded carefully in parchment paper, looked especially handsome. Crushed Doritos crusted the beef patty. Shredded lettuce, diced tomato, and shredded cheese, tossed in a ranch-Tapatio dressing, looked as refreshing as the cool breeze felt that brushed through the open patio.
We took our first bites. CRUNCH. The flavor of the seasoned beef grabbed my tongue, like a professional wrestler grabs his opponent, and put it in a half-nelson as my teeth mashed the other ingredients. Holy Toledo. If you were to close your eyes, you would swear that you were eating a Doritos Locos Taco -- The best one you have had, or will ever have, but a Doritos Locos Taco, nonetheless.
"That was the first burger I ever finished." Maye said proudly. " I usually can't even finish an In-N-Out burger." It's true, she can't. It was a really good burger.
Fred Guerrero, son to Chef Andre Guerrero and co-manager of The Oinkster, joined us on the patio for a moment to talk shop. We gushed over the previous night's burger and praised his father. Fred accepted the compliments but assured us that the creations were not the work of one man, but the combined effort of a devoted team. The managers hold weekly development meetings and tirelessly work the recipes out, for months, until they are perfect.
Fred ran inside and returned moments later with his father. Chef Guerrero brushed Doritos powder from his shirt and shook our hands. While exhausting for him, he said that he was very pleased with the outcome of this year's Burger Week. We asked a maybe stupidly obvious question: Would Chef Guerrero ever consider opening a Filipino restaurant? To sum up his response: He is currently not interested in such a pursuit. He is quite busy enough with the coming opening of The Oinkster's second location.
A limo pulled into the driveway and a party of fully dressed groomsmen ushered their groom to the front of the line where they had been permitted the privilege of line-cutting due to the fact that they were, indeed, on their way to a wedding. The challenge of Burger Week is being taken very seriously this year.
Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Taco
Of course, as is our mission, we left The Oinkster and headed to a friendly local Taco Bell. Well maybe not friendly, but definitely local. We ordered four Doritos Locos Tacos and sat out on the patio where we watched Justin's older son tear around the little playground.
Justin had not eaten a Doritos Locos Taco before. I had eaten many, of both the Nacho Cheese and the Cool Ranch varieties. I had never eaten at the restaurant before though, so I was surprised to discover that they were crunchy all the way through. Our fingers were coated with Doritos powder as we finished. Definitely satisfactory.
The verdict: The Oinkster went "outside the bun," as it were, with the Doritos Bell Beefer. To have eaten one is to have experienced the collective genius of The Oinkster's management. It was scientific in it's flavor accuracy. Bravo! The last day of Burger Week is upon us. Go now, or forever hold your peace.
Words by Henry, photos by Justin.
2005 Colorado Blvd.
Eagle Rock, CA 90041