Nessy Burgers (Fallbrook, CA)

UpdateNessy Burgers moved to 4775 Vía Belmonte in Fallbrook in April 2012. I updated the map entry.

While we were in Southern California visiting Carol’s sister and brother-in-law, we took a day trip down to Palomar Mountain. The route we took there had us take I-15 down from the Temecula area to Highway 76 in Fallbrook, CA.

I wouldn’t call Fallbrook the middle of nowhere (I’ve been to various places, even some on this blog, that were way more out of the way than Fallbrook, which is only ~15 miles away from SoCal suburban splendor), but it’s not exactly the most happening location either. But it was notable that when we got off the highway, a noticeable feature was a little trailer parked in a parking lot with a long line of people waiting for food. That trailer is Nessy Burgers.

So on the way back north, we decided to stop by and see what the hype was about. Despite the late hours (it was around 3:30 pm), Nessy still had a full seating area, and about 15 people in line ahead of us. When we got to the front of the line, I perused the relatively simple menu and opted for the basic Nessy Burger and fries, and settled in for a short wait.

Here’s where I made a bit of a tactical error: when I had arrived at the front of the line, the entire seating area at Nessy was overflowing, so I got my burger “to go”. However, when I got my burger five minutes later, several large groups. So instead of getting a nicely plated burger like some of the other folks around me, I got a hastily-wrapped burger stuffed in a bag. It wasn’t in the best of shape after that, having been somewhat squished and toppled.

My second observation before even digging into the burger was the shear amount of lettuce on it. I’ve noticed this at several other California burger joints (such as The Apple Pan): having a substantial amount of leaf lettuce is seemingly required on a lot of California burgers. Can someone from California explain this one? I’m quite familiar with the concept (it adds a bit of moisture and crunch to the burger), but I usually like to restrain myself to a single leaf and not a giant hunk of iceberg lettuce. Similarly, it came with a rather substantial layer of thousand island already applied. The purist in me likes to start with a basic burger before burying it in topics (this probably is part of the reason I’ve never figured out why folks love Tommy’s, either….)

Another feature this burger shared with Apple Pan was the upside-down construction. If you call the “sesame seed” side of the bun the top, the burger was on top of the condiments, which is also a little odd to me. Nothing wrong, per se, but it seems unusual. Any burger anthropologists want to explain this one? (Looking at my other reviews, I see that Pearl’s did this as well… odd.)

However, both of these items are really window dressing. The actual burger itself is where the real action is at. A substantial patty made from a lightly seasoned mixture of chuck and sirloin, it was actually a decent patty. While they didn’t really seem to cook burgers to order (they seem to be cooking them all to the same nominal medium-well), it had the basic requirements of a good patty: a nice overall sear on the exterior with a still-moist interior.

Toppings-wise (aside from the lettuce surplus), the cheese was decently melted, and the onions (which I got raw, while I noticed most people knew to order up their Nessy Burgers with grilled onions) complimented the burger well. The bun, while a bit beat up from the to-go wrapping, was nicely toasted as well.

The result was slightly jumbled, slightly messy, and slightly greasier than I would generally like, but this was a decent, better than average burger. I’d give it around 6.5/10.

Honestly, while it was a good enough burger. I think that much of the attraction of Nessy Burgers is, well, the location. It’s not too far from other burger joints, but it is the only substantial food option at that exit, which gets a lot of traffic for both the wilderness areas and the casinos. So while (according to my iPhone) it was only 12 miles to In-N-Out, for example, it’s still the best burger for some distance. And that’s good enough. That said, Nessy is definitely on my revisit next…. with the next Nessy Burger being order “for here, with grilled onions, light lettuce, and light sauce.”

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