This is the first hamburger to be featured at On Sandwiches. There isn’t a real strong reason for that, hamburgers are clearly sandwiches. It’s just that I don’t eat them particularly often, and in most cases there’s always a sandwich I’d rather eat, always a sandwich I’d rather talk about. But with the Slummin’ It project developing, my options are much wider if I consider hamburgers. A good friend was urging me to try a double Whopper with cheese, and for his sake I’ll get to that soon enough. I didn’t want it to be the first hamburger featured at On Sandwiches, though. It just didn’t seem right. Original Tommy’s, however, seems to fit that role rather nicely.
I went in to Tommy’s with an associate who was grooving on pure nostalgia, reminiscing about day after day crowned with Tommy’s chili, be it atop hamburgers, cheeseburgers, or french fries. They sell it to go, you take it home and put it on everything, he told me. Seeing the enthusiasm Tommy’s fostered in this man I gladly ordered a double hamburger and some chili cheese fries. I confirmed that I wanted the hamburger with everything on it, which at Tommy’s entails the usual tomato, pickles, and onions but also includes a not insubstantial helping of chili. Extra chili is available at no charge, I’m told, but given that this was my first time I figured the standard amount was the wise choice.
I mentioned the french fries only because they’re key to describing the chili. Where the chili on the hamburger was largely hidden under the bun, the chili on the fries sat front & center, and I was able to marvel at the little pools of shiny red grease collecting in the hills and valleys the chili formed. I mention this not to damn Tommy and his hamburgers. Fat can provide a pleasing taste and texture, and while I’ve had plenty of lousy greasy sandwiches, some folks can pull it off. I’m happy to tell you that Tommy’s is one of those places. The burger itself is pretty standard issue but the chili sings. It’s thick and smooth, with enough texture to not be slurry but not so chunky that you’ve got stew on top of your burger. My associate speculates that they blend it down to a smooth consistency, perhaps adding oatmeal to thicken it up. Whatever they’re doing, it works. This is the kind of sandwich I was looking for when I started Slummin’ It. It’s a sandwich that revels in its grease but does so artfully. The calorie count is high but not obscene, and fares much better than similar burgers that don’t feature a mound of chili. I find that reassuring, a signal that whatever madness is at play here, someone is keeping an eye on it. This was a fine hamburger to be the first at On Sandwiches, and the easily the first success of Slummin’ It. It was a delicious hamburger, and late on a Saturday night that’s often all you need.