A few years in Berlin has made me realize just how perverse the burger culture here is. I like mixing and matching ingredients as much as the next person, but after a disenchanting experience earlier this year that involved me spitting out a burger that would later go on to win second place at that super hyped burger contest, I realized just how very much in the minority I am with my staunch purist burger ideals. Why over-complicate something that can be so beautiful in its simplicity?
Berlin is a city where places like BBI and Schiller Burger are flush in repeat business and five star Yelp reviews. Now I don’t want to be that uptight curmudgeon who rains on the parade of the thousands of people in Berlin who love ordering their burgers with a bunch of crap on them, but all this extra schnick schnack does not make up for a lack of quality ingredients. If you like your burger smothered in so much sauce that you (a) can’t even tell whether the patty was frozen or not and (b) don’t even care, then you need to reevaluate your burger priorities. To the people who leave rave reviews for places that serve burgers with grey patties that don’t have the slightest trace of pink in the middle, I ask – are you in it for the burger or are you in it for the gimmicks?
A good burger, to me, is all about the meat. It should be good quality and properly cooked, preferably with some tasty char on the outside. Second priority is the bun. It should be a legit one that remains true to its purpose as a carrying vessel for your burger patty. Add some lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, classic condiments, and that’s all you need really.
That’s why I love Tommi’s Burger Joint so much. Some people will violently disagree with me, but I like the burgers there even more than those at The Bird (where the “bun” a.k.a. English muffin falls apart in your hands within seconds after the first bite). At Tommi’s they keep it simple and are unapologetic about the admittedly smallish portion sizes. The patties are thick, consistently cooked to perfection, and served in American-style brioche buns. The meat is of the best quality, and you can actually taste the difference. They also keep it simple with the french fries, preparing them thin, crispy and generously salted, McDonald’s style.
Should one ever ask me where the best burger in Berlin is, I would answer Tommi’s without hesitation. This is undoubtedly a controversial opinion, and I know many who would protest on the grounds of portion-to-price ratio or the variety of options on the menu. (Sorry, no BBQ bacon burger here guys.) The burgers at Tommi’s are everything a good burger should be — nothing more, nothing less.