17 June 2009

Basque Burger Paradise

Lunch at Txikito

El Doble

Basque Blistered Piperrak Peppers

Txakolina Rose - - Beats the crap outta diet Coke

Buried in a shopping strip way the hell over on Chelsea's west side on 9th Avenue between 24th and 25th is a Basque restaurant paneled in what looks like old shipping pallets. It also serves the best hamburger I've ever had in my entire life. A client, friend, foodie and New Yorker of almost 30 years took me to Txikito but he never told me the name. Just say 'Chiquita' like the banana and you're close enough.

A lot of critical nit picking has been written about the decor but I like it. It has a garage like front door that's opens the whole place to the street making it very casual. I ordered El Doble and asked for it rare. The waitress told me it was really up to the chef how it was cooked. Shades of the airport burger, "We can only cook them medium well" came to mind but I didn't make a scene. My client ordered the piperrak peppers as a starter and a bottle of Rioja or Priorat - - I can't remember but it was a nice Spanish red.

The peppers are salted and fried and go fast like anything fried with salt usually does. They're addictive and while I was yacking on about how good they were -- El Doble was put in front in front of me. Cheese oozzed out over two double patties tucked into a Tom Cat bakery bun. Very easy to handle... I took a big bite and came in my pants.

The details: The burgers are 20% fat. I actually have my hamburger ground 75/25 but the 80/20 works well. A big mistake with burgers is using very lean meat. You need the fat to cook the burger and fat, as well all know, tastes good. The cheese is Idiazabal. A beautiful sheep's milk cheese that's smokey goodness. The sauce is creme fraiche and a homemade mayo and the whole production is covered in cornichons and pickled onions.

It's familiar and it's unlike anything I've ever had before. The formula was so mind blowing I couldn't stop thinking about it and went back alone for a late lunch. Otra vez for the peppers and the burger but instead of red I had a glass of the chilled rose that I can't pronounce but that was so good I had two. The place gets some ribbing about being expensive but lunch is a square deal. $11 for the best burger I ever had. Perfection has never come so cheap.

14 comments:

longwing said...

I wish I had known about this that day I spent hungry and bored at the Javits Center.

skorpeo said...

wow. those peppers looked fantastic, to say nothing of the burger!! i'm a big fan of jalapenos, and when i'm especially brave, the habinero. but to deep fry them and cover them in salt; nirvana, i'm sure.

M.Lane said...

I am WAY too hungry now after reading this. I have to go to that place!!

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

DCB said...

Holy crap that looks and sounds delicious. Will definitely hit that when back in the city next month. Thanks!

heavy tweed jacket said...

Wonderful write up. What a great looking burger! And here I was trying to swear off burgers over on Longwing's page...

Paul said...

My daughter and fam live at 6th & 23rd so I guess that's the hood for them. They'd like something like this - specially when the burger oozes cheese and other good things happen ;)

Always good posts Mr. Tintin. Thanks.

Lynn said...

I'd like to do some visits to New York, but I'm a vegetarian. Are there any safe spots (no sneaking in meat products) for us to eat?

Josh R said...

tintin -- congrats on the NYT mention!

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/fashion/18codes.html

But what's up with that errant space in your url? Copyediting ain't what it used to be...

ADG said...

"Very easy to handle... I took a big bite and came in my pants." ....

No need to tart up such a great post with this kind of admission-emission.

tintin said...

On the road so please forgive the brevity. The Trad did indeed get a mention in the NY Times. 8,000 page views in 12 hours. Glad to see folks still read the Times.

David W-d said...

They do a similar dish in Catalonia - I had it in Barcelona- Padron chillis lightly fried with a little olive oil and then sprinkled with rock salt, served as Tapas. Padron chillis are usually mild but every now and again...!

Paul said...

Tin - we enjoy reading YOUR stuff. I'm not yellin' - just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

I see a name like Txikito and I know right away the origin. There are a lot of words and names in northern Spain with Xs in them. I thought it was very cool, very Latin. The best bowl of regional seafood stew I ever had was along the northern coast. Tomato and olive oil base. I'll never forget it...ever.

There are Basques and there are Basque ETA Seperatists. At that intersection reside my third cousins - police officers closely tied to the military, whose headquarters (and sometimes, familes) are sequestered behind high fortified walls within their cities.

Just this week, the ETA bombed and killed a 49 year-old policeman, a father of two. It easily have been one of my relatives. Thank god it was not. Having said that, my grandmother's family was Basque.

But I'm rambling. FedEx me that burger, please, Tintin. I'll reheat it...

-DB

TRAWETS NILTGEOV said...

The burger looks good, but it's dangerously close to "slider" size.

I'll stick with the "Ghetto Burger" from Ann's Snack Shack in the ATL. Even the friggin' WSJ sweats it.