The Jalapeno Burger is not a Lahori thing. Writing about non-Lahori Gora food kind of makes me feel like the pseudo-gora person I’m always speaking out against among friends. You know, the popular term “coconut” comes to mind being applied to the Lahori Goras: Bahir se brown, andar se white. Trying not to turn this into a post on racial-slurs, I’ll just mention that the first reason in my memory that made me go against the Lahori-Goras was when I came across this girl at a wedding, Lahore-born and bred, who went all “OMGWTFBBQ” when she was served the Meethi Chutney that comes with Samosay. That was it for me.
Coming back to the Jalapeno Burger (JB). I’ve tried and tried again to find the best-tasting JB in Lahore. Or to at least find something that could qualify as a JB to an extent. I’ve failed miserably at some places but the good news is that I DID find a JB somewhere that I’d actually go back for.
Roaster’s, somewhere near Home Economics College, Gulberg
I’d heard a lot about Roaster’s. Being part of the Arizona Grill chain, Roaster’s has almost the exact same interior as Arizona Grill. Tables, chairs, knives and forks, everything. But it’s amazing how a place mainly advertised through word-of-mouth as one of the places to be at for good burgers, I was painfully disappointed when I ordered a JB here. The burger was huge, yes, I’ll give it that, but that’s it. I’m actually lost for words when I think of words to bestow the experience with so I’ll just compare it with a home-made keema sandwich aur hari mirch and end this sad section of the post. Note however, I was able to COUNT the Jalapeno peppers in my burgers. There were about 4 of them. And the bun resembled that of Fresh Inn Bakers, Johar Town.
Arizona Grill, Xinhua Mall, Mian Mahmud Ali Kasuri Road
Shockingly, the mother restaurant or whatever you’d call it, a place mainly famous for its steaks and pastas and seafood served me one of the best JBs ever. Totally unlike its sad daughter, Roaster’s. The bun was made in-house and was actually fresh, the beef was actually shaped into a patty unlike Roaster’s, was cooked perfectly and was thick and juicy, a rare occurrence in the life of a person who has chewed on burnt beef tenderloin at Kings n Queens and paid poop-loads for a keema sandwich. The amount of Jalapeno was just amazing. It added an actual kick and totally made my taste buds scream. The cheese (cheddar) was in sweet abundance and the onions were fresh and not bitter. I have to comment on the tomatoes though. What IS with Lahori Gora restaurants and their chefs’ lack of ability to cut tomatoes right? Arizona Grill, Roaster’s, Espresso, I’ve had tomatoes as thick as battered onion rings. God. All in all, I LOVED the JB at Arizona Grill. I hope the fact that Mehreen Ali Kasana paying for me did not influence my decision.
Hardee’s, M.M. Alam Road, Gulberg
Yes! I HAD to try the JB at Hardee’s again. I know, I’ve had Hardee’s for a huge part of my fat childhood in Dubai, munching on curly fries (no, I refuse to call them Crispy Curls, meh) for hours, diving into a double beef slab from heaven, ahh you get the drift. The mere fact that Hardee’s arrived in town was enough for me to forget all other places offering burgers and just choose Hardee’s over anything. I still decided though to try to make a fair comparison between the JBs at Roaster’s, Arizona and here. Hardee’s, oh godly burger-makers, you win by a mile. A kilometer. By the distance Wasim Akram runs in that cigarette nahi peeta ad. By far, simply put. There is no contest, I realize. I will NOT describe the JB (beef or chicken) at Hardee’s. It will make my post too blasphemous for even my liking. I urge every Lahori trying to develop a JB taste to go and frikkin’ try it. That’s it. And if you don’t order curly fries with that, I’ll request God to save that smelliest, filled-with-battered-tomatoes place for you in Hell.
Keep lovin’ food.