BEST BURGER - 2008
Casper & Runyon's Nook
If you can't get in, it must be good, right? Okay, so the masses don't always recognize quality (is American Idol still on?), but in the case of Casper & Runyon's Nook, the crowds are correct. Sometimes it seems that the most coveted seat in town is one in this small, narrow joint near the College of St. Catherine. At dinnertime, hungry patrons stack up at the bar and spill into the doorway, waiting patiently for their neighbors to vacate one of those sought-after tables. All those in line agree that the burgers here are well worth the wait, and indeed they're nearly perfect: meaty, juicy, cooked and seasoned just right, served on a fresh, fluffy white bakery bun. The menu offers a plethora of burger-enhancement options: Worcestershire, various cheeses, bacon, and much more (plus a version of that venerable local creation, the Jucy Lucy, here called a "Nookie"). But the simple, basic cheeseburger is perhaps the best way to experience this beefy goodness. The Nook was featured in a Food Network show in January, bringing yet more crowds that don't seem likely to dissipate any time soon. Try later in the evening if you want to avoid the wait, and remember that patience is a virtue.