21 Burgers hits a home run
Published 12:12 pm Friday, December 18, 2015
by Sameerah Brown
Have you ever eaten at a place where the experience was so incredible that you remember it days, months or even years later? In the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to visit a friend in sunny Southern California. I’d been told before how awesome the food was going to be there. They were right!
While visiting, my friend and I went to Little Korea, where I had Korean BBQ for the first time. That food was absolutely amazing to the point that I found myself daydreaming about that restaurant months later. Ever since then, I wondered why all my food experiences couldn’t be as great as or better than that one. So I’ve started a quest to find as many hidden gems in Hampton Roads.
My name is Sameerah Brown and I have officially ordained myself as The Tidewater News Traveling Foodie. Each month I will visit different locally owned family restaurants outside of Franklin and share my experience with you. I will be speaking about the menu options, atmosphere, service and, most importantly, the taste.
This month’s adventure has taken me to 21 Burgers, located off Airline Boulevard in Portsmouth. Who doesn’t like a good burger? I know the majority of us do, so when a good friend made this recommendation, I figured this would be a great start.
Juan Holt opened the doors to 21 Burgers in July and named after his softball number. He has always been in the restaurant industry and has a passion for cooking and figured it was time to start his own business.
My first impression of 21 Burgers was that it is your typical diner: nothing fancy, cozy spacing, limited seating, well-lit and clean. No need for a menu because it is blown up on the wall and, yup, you guessed it, there are 21 burgers to choose from. In addition to the burgers, the menu also includes chicken and waffles, chicken wings and hotdogs, along with a few side options. For the little people in the world, 21 Burgers also offers a kids menu, so you can bring the whole family.
Since I don’t eat pork, I was impressed that they offer turkey bacon as an alternative so my burger choices weren’t limited. Those of you who are looking for a healthier alternative can have any burger on the menu made with ground turkey instead of ground beef. My visit to this restaurant had to be a two-part visit, because one can only eat so many burgers in one seating and there were so many I wanted to try.
The diner’s motto is a “New Standard of Greatness.” It also claims to be the home of the famous waffle burger, so I had to try the Homer. This consists of a 6-ounce fresh hamburger patty topped with ketchup, mustard, mayo, grilled onions, bacon — in my case turkey bacon — a fried egg, pickles, lettuce and cheese in between two pieces of waffle. If you’re feeling frisky, which I was, you can infuse your waffle bun with bacon. Yum! This burger was pretty good in size, to say the least. You definitely needed two hands to enjoy this masterpiece. All the flavors blended so well together, from the flavorful fresh ground beef, the fried egg and especially the subtle sweetness of the waffle bun, which all form holy matrimony in my mouth. The Homer was really just that good. The only thing I would change is next time my egg will be cooked over easy. I’m already tasting it!
Two other must-tries when you drop in are the Philly Steakburger, a four-ounce hamburger patty topped with — wait for it — two ounces of shaved steak meat, grilled onions, cheese and mayo between buttered Texas toast. If you’re a meat lover, this burger is made just for you.
Another home run was the Bottom of the 7th; this was a heavenly experience. With every bite — I promise you — I could hear angels singing. OK, maybe not, but it was super good. The best way to describe this beauty is like a hamburger nacho; it is everything you love about burgers and fries, but without the bun. I know you’re probably thinking that it was just another bunless burger, but nope, you’re wrong. This creation is a layer of fries topped with a six-ounce hamburger chopped up, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, mayo and wonderful liquid gold nacho cheese. My only request with this one is that next time I would prefer my bacon to be chopped up and sprinkled on top.
All in all. I give 21 Burgers a nine out 10 and that is because of the lack of cheese options. Service was great. They aim to please and, above all, the burgers were the bomb. I highly recommend that the next time you are out and about in Portsmouth, or just passing through, make sure to stop and visit Juan Holt at 21 Burgers, 2558 Airline Blvd., Portsmouth. They are open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. with breakfast being served all day. It is definitely a stop you won’t regret.
As I continue my search of finding those hidden food gems in Hampton Roads, I invite you to send me your recommendations. If you know of a restaurant that you would like me to visit outside of Franklin, email your suggestions to email@example.com. Let’s see where next month’s adventure takes us.