10 years is almost an eternity in the restaurant business. According to a study, the average lifespan of an independent restaurant is only five years. Charlie’s Grind and Grill Handcrafted Burgers must be doing something right, though, to be consistently known for having one of the best or even arguably the best burgers in town.
Black Angus Cheese Burger (Php230) – Black Angus patty, cheese, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, on a black sesame seed bun
I first heard of Charlie’s Grind and Grill Handcrafted Burgers more than eight years ago. It was a time before social media was a big thing, before food became Instagrammable (heck, Instagram only came out in 2010), before food blogs, and when good food was spread solely through word-of-mouth. If your food was good, people would come.
Wagyu Sloppy Burger – chili con carne, jalapenos, egg, and sour cream on a potato bun
Rumor spread that there was a burger joint in Kapitolyo beside a car wash that serves the meanest hamburgers. You see, a burger joint by a car wash was unheard off back in 2008 and it generated quite a buzz along with a long line in Kapitolyo. This became even more of a big deal when word spread that it tasted like a particular burger joint in California. I just had to check it out.
Fun fact: Their actual inspiration was an East Coast burger joint!
Wagyu 5 Cheese – Gouda, cheddar, blue cheese, cheese sauce, mozzarella, on a potato bun
I can still remember my very first order, the Black Angus cheeseburger, a cup of clam chowder, animal fries, a milkshake, and a Japanese beer. From that day forward, the Black Angus cheeseburger became my “reference” of what a cheeseburger should taste like. The bun should be soft but a little chewy. The veggies should be fresh and crisp. The cheese should melt. And the patty should be juicy. After all, the beef should be the hero. Once you get everything right, it’s a one-way trip to flavor town!
During my first trip to California a couple of years ago, I tried out the famous joint they were comparing this to, and I finally understood why it generated such a buzz those many years ago.
Buffalo Chicken Wings (Php295 for half a dozen) – spicy chicken wings, carrot sticks, celery sticks, jicama sticks, and blue cheese dip
Chicken wing aficionados will also fall in love with Charlie’s Grind and Grill’s wings. They can do them traditionally (which is how I like it) or turn them into something more kid-friendly with an oriental flavor called Sticky Chicken Wings (Php295 per 6 pieces).
The purists can expect an overall balance in the spiciness and tanginess of their traditional wings. If you want something spicier, you can also ask for their Puñeta Wings… if you dare.
Strawberry Milkshake (Php190) and Clam Chowder in a cup (Php130)
No visit is complete without trying out their excellent milkshakes and their clam chowder. Prior to Charlie’s Grind and Grill, I cannot recall a single restaurant in the Metro that serves milkshakes made from scratch or at least this good. I had the plain vanilla the first time and loved it since it was not too sweet. The strawberry one during this visit was refreshing thanks to the fresh chunks of strawberries present per sip.
Dirty Fries (Php205) – blue cheese sauce, chicken liver, bacon
If you still aren’t full and want to clog your arteries a bit more, the Dirty Fries will surely do it for you. At this point during the food tasting, I just needed a beer to cut the extremely rich combination of flavors in my mouth. This was probably my favorite dish of the night. Not only did I get a party in my mouth; the beer actually made sense. The funny story is that this dish was actually conceptualized during one of their long drinking sessions! Legend has it that the chicken liver also made its way into the Black Truffle Fries (Php220), which I have yet to try on my next visit.
Something that isn’t on the menu yet is the crisp onion rings, which is great to snack on with their selection of local and imported craft beers. The batter is crispy with a hint of barbecue while the onions are fresh and sweet. Paired with any of their beers and what is there not to like?
Take note that what you see in this article is just a scratch of their menu. I have yet to try their salad, hotdogs, and pasta!
Hopefully there will be another 10 years or more for some of the best burgers in town, more so now that there are requests to reopen their Makati branch and to open as far as Boracay and Cebu! Charlie’s told me that they’re planning something for their 10th anniversary this September 27, as well, so make sure you visit their Facebook page to find out what that is!