Happy to serve you
Burgess Brothers’ Burgers
Being employed as a public servant is probably a lot like being a restaurateur. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work, but you need to be all smiles up front. Burgess Brothers’ Burgers is a great example of that model, as evidenced in part by their motto, “Committed to Service.”
Actually, the twin brothers behind the shop are both public servants: Matthew Burgess currently serves as a California Highway Patrol officer while Jonathan Burgess is a Sacramento firefighter.
When it came time to join forces, a burger cook-off between the two resulted in a nice compromise: The Burgess brothers combined the best of their recipes and opened a restaurant in 2012.
The exceptional result is located near Sacramento City College, but it’s easy to miss. Here’s a clue to finding it: Look for the impressive custom smoker in the parking lot. It’s used to give the distinctive flavor to the burgers here, and also to make the eatery’s under-the-radar barbecue.
I must have passed the restaurant 100 times without realizing they had more than burgers. Fortunately, they lugged their smoker over to the Track 7 Brewing Co. parking lot one Sunday, where I discovered them. The pork and beef ribs I tasted then were both incredibly tender and flavorful, brushed with a tomato-based hickory-flavored sauce. Equally memorable was the employees’ friendliness. The two children with me even received complimentary (and tasty) chicken skewers, generously stacked with mushrooms, roasted peppers and onions.
A trip to the actual restaurant turned out just as well. The front room is set up almost like a family room, with some recliners and a big-screen TV for watching sports. Food is ordered in an adjacent, larger room. The décor here is spare, featuring police and fire gear, photos, and framed newspaper articles.
There are plenty of burgers on the menu—all smoked before they’re grilled. Choose from three sauces: the barbecue variety used on the ribs; the “Patrol,” comprising barbecue sauce, mustard and mayo; and the “First Alarm,” a spicy blend of chipotle and mayo. The one-third pound Tactical Blue Burger is served with blue cheese, tomato, lettuce and fried onions. With a generous slathering of the Patrol sauce, it’s full of flavor but not too smoky. The bun holds together nicely, and the fries are good and crunchy (substitute thin, crispy sweet-potato fries for $1 extra).
Burgess Brothers’ also offers, among other options, kid-sized sliders; the house burger (the original inspiration for the business); a Hero Burger, featuring pulled pork, cheddar and grilled onions; and a Code 4 vegetarian burger, made with a portobello mushroom.
Don’t miss the barbecue, though. The pulled-pork sandwich is nicely smoked and shredded, piled on a garlic roll. I would have liked more sauce, agrave; la North Carolina style, but the Patrol gives it some extra oomph. The tri-tip sandwich tastes pretty good, but it’s not as droolworthy as the brisket: It’s served with thinly sliced, juicy smoked meat that’s just a bit overwhelmed by the large bun.
Additions include potato salad—an unusual mashed texture and flavored with chives, but a little scant in size. The chili is a fairly mild mix of ground beef and beans that’s perfect for the chili-cheese fries. It might be an even better topping for one of the burgers.
There’s no liquor here, but there are “hydration fountain drinks,” including a Southern-style sweet tea. The milkshakes are fine, but not exceptional. More interesting is a root-beer float with vanilla ice cream, featured on the dessert list. Ask about specials, since the restaurant also does catering.
While the burgers are unique, with their smoky undertones, the barbecue is Burgess Brothers’ Burgers strength. Keep an eye out for their smoker in the parking lot or at Track 7 and other locations and be sure to say hi. They’re happy to serve you.