Just reading that word makes me drool. There’s an immediate mental image. Likely, that image is of your favourite burger. The bun, the toppings, the condiments and obviously, the meat, come together to create a symphony in your mouth with every bite. That’s what a good hamburger should do. Lots of substance, with just the right amount of style.
No, I’m not yelling the world hamburger with my mouth full of hamburger. That is the name of Hamilton’s newest burger hotspot. And oh my, what a delightful place it is!
HAMBRGR seemed to come out of nowhere. I actually walk past it every day going to work, but hadn’t really noticed that a new restaurant was opening. Then, out of the blue, they were all over my Twitter feed.
Not just your standard “hey, cool, a new burger place in #HamOnt” type of tweets. These were “OMG!! Go to @hambrgrhamilton RIGHT NOW!!” kind of tweets.
Then someone mentioned craft beer in a tweet and really got our attention. We had to go.
HAMBRGR is on King William Street in downtown Hamilton. It’s a very trendy part of town, which falls into the James Street North sphere of arts, culture and foodie revival.
We went mid-afternoon on a Saturday to avoid lunch and dinner crowds – also, we’re essentially senior citizens and love to eat our dinner early.
Julia, our server, set the tone with a super warm welcome. She wanted to talk about the food and beer, and clearly loves working there.
The food (Menu)
These are really good burgers! Jenn ordered the Montezuma’s Revenge and said it was one of the best restaurant burgers she’s had. That’s high praise from Jenn. She doesn’t make statements like that about burgers without really thinking about it!
I had a craving for chicken, so went with the Nashville Style Hot Chicken burger. Delicious! Spicy, but not so much you lose the ability to taste. And most important, the chicken was super fresh and juicy.
The buns are also really high quality, which can make or break even the best burger patty.
They also have half and half fries (sweet potatoes and regular sea salt). Great fries too!
They clearly understand that Hamiltonians want a local beer option. So they give multiple. Truly local options include Collective Arts, Nickel Brook, Garden Brewers and Revel Cider Co. They also carry Left Field Brewery and Amsterdam in bottles. This was the first time I’ve seen Left Field available in Hamilton, which was great!
Something really unique about HAMBRGR is that they carry Nickel Brook’s non-alcoholic Babbling Brook root beer. Jenn got that and it was so good! Lots of flavour, not too sugary and just really enjoyable to drink. Just as with their beer, Nickel Brook does their root beer the way it’s supposed to be done!
This was my first opportunity to try Hamilton’s Garden Brewers, who we’ve heard a lot about. HAMBRGR has Garden’s Piperales on tap. This is a smoked ale infused with crushed black peppercorn. And I was hesitant. Peppercorn in beer? Sounds like a recipe for potential disaster. Or in this case, a recipe for amazingly good beer! Wonderful, wonderful brew! The smoke and spice are kept in check and it ends up being really well balanced. This is a very drinkable beer. Love that the flavours are almost indescribable. The peppercorn is there, but then sort of disappears, but comes back again. You have to think a bit while you’re drinking it, and I love that.
Once you have your delicious burger and beer, there are lots of nearby options for things to do. Gore Park and the newly renovated Veterans’ Place is very close by. Bayfront Park and Pier 4 are also a short drive, bike ride or bus trip away.
Right next door to HAMBRGR is a delicious bakery called Made for you by Madeleine. Their bakes goods are amazing, so make sure you set a price limit before you go inside. And only a couple doors down at the historic Lister Block is Mezza Café if you want a post-hamburger cappuccino.
Then there is James Street North just a block west, which is jam-packed with independent stores, cafes and art galleries. You’ll be spoiled for choice if you want non-car adventure nearby.
There is a great vibe at HAMBRGR. From talking to our server at the end of the meal, we got a good idea for where that vibe is coming from.
“I can be proud to say I work here” Julia said. “I can be proud of the food and we really want to make a difference in our community.”
And that’s believable. The staff seem to believe in this restaurant and you can taste it with every bite. HAMGRGR has started very strongly.