Saturday, September 17, 2011

Some things never change…

Thank God.

Hires Big H has been making fantastic burgers, root beer, shakes, and onion rings for more than fifty years. I was practically weaned on their Big H burger; consciously or no, I’ve measured every burger I’ve eaten since then against that lofty standard, and most have fallen short.

The Restaurant

Their flagship location, at 425 South 700 East in Salt Lake City, operates as a hybrid drive-in and dine-in establishment. The whole place (still!) has the feel of a 1950s diner, with simple black-and-white checkered decor and various Utah Utes sports memorabilia mounted on the walls. The menu is surprisingly expansive for a burger joint, with a wide variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches to go along with the traditional burger fare.

I recently decided to get in touch with my roots by visiting that flagship location for the first time since I was in high school. My initial apprehensions that something may have been lost in the interim were immediately put to rest when I saw that virtually nothing had changed since the last time I’d visited; the manager was even the same guy who was there fifteen years ago. I sat down and placed my order without needing to look at the menu; a Big H burger, a frosted mug of root beer, and a side of fries.

The Food

After a reasonable wait, my food arrived. The burger was exactly as I remembered it; the patty was juicy, cooked just to medium well, and arrived nestled in a soft bun with fry sauce, tomato, and lettuce. The first bite affected me on a primeval level. *This* is how food is supposed to taste. I may have shed a tear or two because of the unassailable perfection of the burger. The root beer is crafted to similarly laudable standards; I quickly downed the first mug, and was well into my second before I’d even finished the burger.

The fries, unfortunately, don’t hold up as well to modern competition. I found them mushier than I’ve grown accustomed to, and though the included fry sauce still represents the standard against which all condiments should be measured, even that was not enough to rescue the side. Next visit, I’ll give their onion rings a try instead.

The Happily Ever After

Hires Big H provides a comforting reminder that some things never change. I may not need a Big H burger and root beer every day, but the simple knowledge the option exists is enough to make the rapidly changing modern world a little less frightening.


  1. That burger looks amazing! If you're every in the mood for philly cheesesteak or meatball sandwiches I'd recommend a place called Moochies. Its one of the best tasting restaurants I've found in Salt Lake.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation! I'll check them out as soon as possible. I'm a regular at DP Cheesesteaks on 3rd south, but I'm always open to a new cheesesteak.

  3. I love Hires! I go there for the shakes. If you're a chocolate fan, I recommend the chocolate shake w/extra brownie chunks. Its AMAZING.

  4. Aw, shucks, looks like I'll have to go again =) Thanks for the tip!

  5. Moochies is a excellent restaurant, sadly one of the few in Utah. I have never been impressed by the local eatery options in Utah (I can count the ones I love on one hand), but I am always looking for new options.

    I will admit that I have heard of Hires being a prime option in Utah, but I have always heard it being compared as "Almost as good as In and Out." I am not a fan of 'In and Out', and due to that I have never tried Hires.

    So my question becomes, is Hires like 'In and Out' or is a completely different burger experience?

  6. There are some similarities, but given a choice between Hires or In-N-Out, I will always choose the former.

    The reasons are simple; better food, more variety, and better service. Hires has a drive-in, or you can dine inside. When using the drive-in, you pull up outside, look at the menu, and flash your lights when you're ready to order. If you dine in, you just take a seat and a waitress comes over to take your order. Either way, it doesn't have that stressful assembly line feel that is unfortunately part of the In-N-Out restaurant experience.

    Also, as Rebecca noted, the ice cream is awesome. And I think I'm going to mosey on down that direction right now to check out that chocolate shake with brownie chunks.