Classic Burger Joint: Secrets Revealed!
It’s become the face of the Lebanese-born burger chain serving up delicious flame-grilled burgers and seasoned fries in a small, casual dining space. The iconic pull-up windows, the metallic chairs on the deck, generic yellow and red squirt bottles containing their respective condiments, a plastic bowl in the window filled with green apples. Classic Burger Joint has evolved into a mainstay on the local burger scene, arguably the pioneer of the comeback burger in Lebanon and one of the few to have weathered the ebb and flow of this bunned foodstuff since it first opened its doors in Sodeco in 2010.
I’ll be honest. The first time I tried CBJ was in early 2011—my friend, who’d also lived in Southern California, compared it to In-N-Out. If you’re from California, I don’t need to elaborate on what such an analogy would imply. For those unfamiliar with the successful burger chain, let’s just say it’s pretty hot stuff West of the Rockies.
So I went with sky-high expectations and rather predictably, I was disappointed. Sure the bun was fresh, soft and airy with toasted seeds and grains to crown it, but the patty was miniscule: thin, small, and totally concealed by the bread. Even the taste didn’t strike a chord with me, because if it had, I wouldn’t have waited over two years to go back.
But as the adage goes, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” And that’s certainly what CBJ did, rolling up their sleeves and going back to the drawing board—er, kitchen—to perfect their product. And truth be told, in the near dozen times I’ve visited CBJ since last year, they very well may have.
We visited the downtown branch on a breezy afternoon a few weeks ago. The warm waitress gave us time to sort out our selection from the menu. Then we ordered. In the pictures below and in our very pleased smiles afterward lie the verdict. And to make this review even more compelling, I'm unveiling some of CBJ's best-kept secrets.
Secret #1: you can replace the coleslaw with a fresh green salad—and I’m talking green and purple lollo rosso with cherry tomatoes tossed in lemon mustard. You can also choose a baked potato instead of seasoned fries, and if you’re really particular about your waistline, you can opt out of the spud offering altogether and double your leafy green portion.
That’s how I had my chicken mozzarella burger meal (18,500LL). The chicken breast was tender, smoky, and generous in portion size. I pulled out the square mozzarella patty to enjoy it separately with my salad, which made for a wonderful appetizer. Instead of the aioli sauce, I dressed my chicken in plain mustard.
Secret #2: the standard beef patty size is 130g (4.6-oz.), but you can upgrade to 170g (6-oz.). Nowhere is it written on the menu, but if you expressly ask, the waitress will distinguish between two patty types. And trust me, the 170g-meat pie makes for a world of difference—far juicier than its lightweight counterpart, as the beef seems more loosely packed, and far more satisfying in terms of burger-to-bun ratio.
Secret #3: you can add grilled bell peppers and raw or grilled onions as burger extras for free. Well, this one may not be much of a secret, as it’s stated on the menu, but I just thought I’d remind you that CBJ is one of the few joints that doesn’t slap on a fee for these supplements (BRGR Co., for example, does).
Secret #4: okay, you’re going to need to brace yourselves for this one. Ready? Bottomless fries! Yup, you heard correctly: if one serving of CBJ’s fresh fries made with 100% peanut oil doesn’t hit the spot, flash your Burger Addict sticker or decal, and wait for your second round. Complimentary. Now that’s noble.
Secret #5: CBJ has a loyalty card that gets punched every time you dine in. After your tenth visit, you earn a free burger meal. You also get a free meal on your birthday—fill out the comment card to ensure they have your contact info and date of birth, and on your special day, expect an email with a voucher in attachment.
So that’s my wrap. I went from being a CBJ naysayer to a CBJ believer. At the end of the day, it’s about excellence and consistency in product and service, and CBJ delivers on both fronts.
Note: this article was also published by Al Jadeed Official Website here.