Is the World’s Best Basic Hamburger to Be Found at Hudson’s Hamburgers in Coeur d’Alene Idaho?

A hamburger can't get much more basic.

We ate at Hudson’s Hamburgers in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho yesterday. Sunset Magazine recommended it as being one of the top five hamburger joints in the West. Turns out it has also been recognized in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Gourmet Magazine.

Coeur d'Alene Idaho is a delightful town to visit.

What make a hamburger so good it is recognized as one of the best in the nation? We decided to find out.

The answer, at least for Hudson’s, is buried in the past. Hudson’s has been in existence since 1907 and apparently its approach to hamburger making hasn’t changed since.

An early view of Hudson's Hamburgers. Note the prices!

A small counter with 13 seats greeted us when we walked in the door. There were no tables. People stood patiently waiting for counter seats.

A view of the limited counter space. What you see is what is available.

How much more old-fashioned can you get?

We lucked out. Two seats on the far end of the counter opened up almost immediately. They provided an excellent view of the action. Staff consisted of three people. Two worked as waiters… taking orders, delivering food, preparing take out orders and serving as cashiers. No credit cards were accepted.

The single cook was a master of efficiency. She created her works of art directly in front of us. There was no separate kitchen. It was public performance without a net.

A large pan of raw hamburger was on her left. She wore a plastic glove on her right hand and held a spatula in her left. She would reach into the pan and grab a handful of hamburger, slap it onto the table, squish it flat with the spatula and flip it onto the grill.

The chef made cooking hamburgers look easy, and made it look like fun.

Options included single hamburgers with or without cheese or double hamburger with or without cheese, pickles and onions. There were no tomatoes and no lettuce much less any of the other numerous additions from guacamole to bacon and bleu cheese we have come to associate with gourmet burgers.

Buns, cheese, pickles and onions appeared precisely when needed. Pickles and onions were cut up almost as fast as the eye could watch… zip, zip, zip, zip. Each hamburger received four pickle slices and one onion slice… assuming that is what you ordered. Which is what we did.

“We’ll have two single cheese burgers with pickles and onions and two glasses of ice tea,” I told the waiter.  He had appeared as soon as we sat down. Later we added a piece of coconut cream pie.

Our cheeseburgers appeared with the speed that would have shamed McDonald’s, but that’s where any similarity with America’s ubiquitous fast food joints ended. We added the three condiments provided (mustard, ketchup and Hudson’s own concoction) and took our first bite.

And then our second and third. I was left with only one question. How could something so simple taste so good? Our total cost for the two of us: $11.03.

Peggy stands outside of Hudson's Hamburgers. Just beneath the restaurant name is the announcement that no credit cards are excepted. Hudson's wants old-fashion money for their excellent old-fashioned hamburgers.

22 comments on “Is the World’s Best Basic Hamburger to Be Found at Hudson’s Hamburgers in Coeur d’Alene Idaho?

  1. Curt: I write from a TV news network, and we seek your permission to use your photo of Hudson’s Hamburgers’ chef in one of our food-focused segments. I sent you a facebook message — please contact me by return facebook message or at the email address accompanying this comment. Thank you so much!!

    • Hi Jessica… I checked Facebook for messages and didn’t find one from you. As long as you credit the photo to Curt Mekemson at wandering-through-time-and-place.me please feel free to use the photo. Curt Mekemson

  2. I was about to post on the demise of the once-great New Zealand burger, murdered by McD’s inferior product but superior marketing. Dammit, I still shall.

    I would set our ‘bog-standard’ burger of the fifties and early sixties against anything in the world but if they still exist I can’t find them. I try to recreate them myself but am not even in the park … yours above sound very similar~!

    • There was just something about the burger that took me back to my youth, and beyond. Burgers are interesting in that they have gone in two directions, either downhill (McDs, etc.) or gourmet (half pound monsters full of goodies–and they can be quite good) but both are different form the original. Or at least my memory of it. 🙂 –Curt

  3. We travel annually to the Gorge from North Dakota and make it a point to stop at Huddie’s on the way out and on the way back. No better burger in the world. I think the Gorge has become secondary on our annual trek.

  4. How great to see it’s still there! I was there years ago while I was stationed at Fairchild AFB in Spokane. Unused to burgers, and knowing my typically small capacity for restaurant food, I insisted I wanted only one. The people behind the counter smiled and suggested knowingly that I would end up wanting two, and I should order the second now, so it would be ready when I was. But I refused. 4 2/3 minutes later, I ordered my second burger, still licking my fingertips.

  5. Hudson’s? Really? We live here and have gone 2 times, the 1st disappointed, and a 2nd time hoping the first visit was an anomaly, nope. A crappy burger with no options, poor quality beef pulled by hand from a non refrigerated bucket on the counter that’s frequented with flies. No ketchup, no fries, no lettuce or tomato, just a raw slice of bitter onion. Stand in line for 45 minutes for that? No thanks. You feel free to.

    • Enjoy your $15, Gourmet Hoity-Toity Bugers all day long. I’ll stick with a pure burger without all the yuppy accouterments. (btw, I don’t sip wine on the sidewalk in Coeur d’Alene and look down on the common folk either)

      • Good for you, Doug. But unless they have changed, I’ve never had a more simple hamburger. Lots of places go for the gourmet with everything on it. I’ve tried many of them, but I really liked the simplicity of Hudson’s. It was a while ago however. –Curt

  6. My kids and Grandchildren live in Coeur d’Alene and the very first thing that we do when we visit is to head to Hudson’s for a “Huddy” burger. We live in Texas, and over the years I have learned how to duplicate this hamburger, so every once in a while we have to have a “Buddy Huddy”. Buddy Miller

  7. Pingback: Update on my late 2015 whereabouts | Mr. Wally barks

  8. I just ate and I still feel hungry when I see the burger. Peggy looks beautiful. I love places with history, especially when it comes to a diner or restaurants. Will check out more posts of yours.

    • You aren’t alone, Hemangini. My post on the World’s best hamburger is one of my all-time popular blogs. I guess people can’t resist a tasty hamburger! I sure can’t. 🙂 –Curt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s