Serving it Up — Five great burgers in Farmville
Published 2:24 pm Thursday, September 10, 2020
There are many ways in which Farmville is blessed, and if this was not already on the list, it should be added now — it is home to a wealth of great burgers.
A Farmville Herald social media post soliciting opinions on peoples’ favorite burger in town drew impressive participation. The responses were many and varied, demonstrating that if one is to fully experience what Farmville has to offer in this area, they could not do it in a meal or two. It would require a tour.
Responses highlighted as many as 12 different establishments, including one19, North Street Press Club, The Fishin’ Pig, Macado’s, Merk’s Place, Walker’s Diner, The Brew House, Mama Browns, Uptown Coffee Cafe and Main St. Lanes. There were also shoutouts to offerings available at a couple prominent chains that have locations in town — Buffalo Wild Wings and McDonald’s.
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The list of five burgers that follows is by no means exhaustive and is not to be interpreted as a ranking. However, it will include the most mentioned burger in response to our social media survey and the most mentioned restaurant. Without further ado, the following are five great burgers one can find in the Town of Farmville.
The restaurant that drew the most mentions in our brief social media survey was the one19 restaurant, located at 119 N. Main St.
Honing in on a particular one19 burger for this feature, however, proved to be difficult.
The majority of one19 praise in our survey was for the restaurant’s burgers in general, and then after that was specific mention of its burger specials.
Bill McKay, the owner of one19 and the mastermind behind its burgers, pointed out that he has only three set burgers on his menu.
“But the burger specials are what keep people involved and interested and the fact that they change every week and how imaginative (they are),” he said.
He offered an effective illustration of how imaginative they can be.
“One that I did that was very popular was it started with a jalapeno cheddar waffle, then a smattering of peanut butter, the burger, bacon and a maple bourbon syrup,” he said.
McKay said his starting point for creating these specials is a changing one.
“Sometimes I’ll look in the fridge and see I have extra apples or whatever and go from there,” he said. “I never know where it’s going to come from, really. Just different tastes.”
The peanut butter burger began with a suggestion from two customers who had enjoyed a burger with peanut butter on it in San Diego, California, McKay said. So he thought about it for a while. When he eventually followed through and created the burger, it benefited from his recent purchase of a waffle maker.
“When (the two customers) came in the next time, I put the burger in front of them, and they were like, ‘Holy cow,’” McKay recalled. “I looked at them, and I said, ‘You didn’t think I was just going to do a burger with peanut butter on it, did you?’
So, yeah, always taking it an extra step or two is in my plans.”
WALKER’S DINER’S FRISCO BURGER
This burger can be found at the classic establishment known as Walker’s Diner, located at 307 N. Main St.
When asked where the idea came from for the Frisco Burger, Walker’s Diner Co-Owner Rob Chapman did not mince words.
“Hardee’s,” he said, referring to the popular fast food restaurant company. “Hardee’s does it too.”
The Walker’s version of the classic burger features Texas toast, American cheese, bacon, tomatoes and mayonnaise.
Chapman estimated it has been on the Walker’s Diner menu since 2010, and it has been among the restaurant’s most popular burgers.
“It’s a good combination,” he said.
The owners at Walker’s encourage customers to mix it up, though. They have been known to recommend adding pimento cheese. Some customers add barbecue sauce to the burger.
“They add grilled onions to it,” Walker’s Diner Co-Owner Loretta Graham said.
Jack Keesling offered a particularly eloquent tribute to Walker’s Diner’s Frisco Burger in our survey.
“True to the wisdom of the owners, the addition of pimento cheese added a creamy magic to this burger that made it a culinary symphony well able to put the likes of Mozart and Bach to wonderment,” he wrote.
MERK’S SWISS MUSHROOM BURGER
The Merk’s Swiss Mushroom Burger has been found on the menu at Merk’s Place since it opened in 1999. Merk’s Place is located at 2106 W. Third St.
“It’s our take on an old-time classic burger,” Merk’s Place Owner Dennis Merkle Sr. said of the Swiss Mushroom Burger. “Each burger is made fresh daily, and we use only fresh produce.”
Merk’s uses Angus Beef, and they make their own kaiser rolls, fresh baked every day.
Customers are also free to customize this classic burger.
“It’s made to order, so whichever trimmings the customer prefers,” Merkle said.
“Adding bacon seems to be a popular choice as well. It’s also available in three sizes: 1/4-pound, 1/3-pound and 1/2-pound.
He affirmed customers have made the Merk’s Swiss Mushroom Burger a major seller.
“Yes it is quite popular, along with our Mexican Cheddar Meltdown and pastrami burgers,” he said.
JW’S EXPRESS’S CHEESEBURGER
A gem of a cheeseburger can be found at JW’s Express, located at 201 E. Third St.
JW’s Express Owner Jean Williams noted her business’ cheeseburger has a loyal and vocal following from her customers.
“They say, when they come in to get it, that this is the best burger in town,” she said. “I’ve even got customers that say, ‘I’ll tell everybody that JW’s has the best cheeseburger in town.’”
She explained what goes into this acclaimed burger.
“We use only fresh ground hamburger, fresh ground beef,” she said. “We get it from a major supplier, and each burger is cooked to order.
And the great thing about it is, the customer can even stand there and watch us make the burger, and sometimes they like that, that they can actually see the kitchen and see what’s going on.”
Williams stated the cheeseburger automatically comes with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise for customers.
“And of course, if they want to add bacon, (they will), or sometimes they’ll put grilled onions instead of the regular onions,” she said. “They can make it a double, which we sell a lot of, or a lot of the bacon doubles.”
The cheeseburger has been a staple on the JW’s menu for 22 years.
NORTH STREET PRESS CLUB’S THE CLARENCE PAGE
The single most mentioned burger in our survey was The Clarence Page, created by Nash Osborn and found at North Street Press Club. The club is located at 127 North St.
Osborn said The Clarence Page has been on the Press Club’s menu since it opened.
“I think, to be honest with you, it’s probably our most popular item altogether,” he said.
The key ingredients of the burger are brie cheese, caramelized onions, fig jam, garlic aioli, arugula and bacon.
“The idea came from when the bakery was open here, and I used to make a sandwich over there with the same stuff on it, except it was turkey,” Osborn said. “And so I just sort of replicated that same thing with a burger, and it worked out.”
He said it is nice to have created something that is so popular.
“I had made that burger for a bunch of my friends at a couple parties we had at our house before we opened, and they were like, ‘Oh, this is so good,’” he said. “I was like, ‘Alright, I guess we’ve got to get it on the menu then.’”