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.
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.
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.