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Circuit Court Sacramento

Nationwide Freezer Meats
1930 H Street/20th
Sacramento, CA
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Oh the coveted title of "best burger"!
Out front.Arguments are heated. Debates revolve around the grinding of meat, the shape of the patty, the cost/benefit ratio. Reader-eaters, I submit to you that there is no such thing as the best burger, no combination of meat and bun that is universally and undeniably above all others, even though free papers from coast to coast all claim their city has one. See, the best burger in the world is a personal thing. To borrow obnoxious Microsoft language, it's more like "MY best burger." It's the burger that speaks to me and my particular tastes and prejudices. Finding your own best burger, well, it's like falling in love. You think longingly about it when you are with other, lesser, burgers. You introduce your friends to your best burger, and they like it, they like it a lot, but they don't truly appreciate it like you do, embrace its appealing foibles and recognize its innate superiority. They don't look at it lovingly before taking a big bite.

I've found my very own best burger and no, that's not a sunburn — it's the rosy glow of love.

NationWide Freezer Meats. Sounds rather industrial, I know. To be fair, they have pretty much dropped the "freezer" part of their name, but I like the sound of it, and I don't think they would deny their wholesale past. I also like the "Nationwide" part. It reminds me of that ZZ Top song.

The menu at NWFM says "French Ground Steakburger Cheese." It also mentions fries, shakes of various interesting flavors, and, I believe, even sandwiches. But the "French Ground Steakburger Cheese" is what you want to focus on. It comes in a double, and even an awe-inspiring quad. If you are anti-cheese you could get it without, I suppose. Cheese-skippers should steer clear of my house, however. I don't trust you people.

Booth!Because of the name, I pictured some kind of fancy French grinding going on in back, some secret technique handed down through generations of European butchers, but the "French" actually refers to the bun! They say it's a French roll, I have my doubts, but whatever it is, it's KEY to the success of this top-notch burger. Clearly, the crafters of this delight have a sound understanding of the vital role played by the bun. How many burgers might have achieved real greatness, if not for this weak link? The bun must do its job! It must support the burger structurally, until the juicy end. Yet it must not be dry or hard. The bun should be tasty, but not a show-stealer in terms of flavor. And don't even talk to me about focaccia. A fine bread, I'm sure, but used as a bun? Puh-leeze. In functionality and taste the NWFM bun surpasses all others. This bun is the perfect frame for a true masterpiece. The meat is great. Joe isn't the only one who grinds his own chuck daily. Very tasty. It's the right thickness: hearty and hand formed but not rotund. There are no decisions to be made on your part about degree of doneness, something that I am grateful for. You get all the fixings: lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, "sauce." The mustard is in big squeeze bottles on the table. If you ask, they bring ketchup: it's served in little Dixie cups, kind of like JELL-O shots.

SteerThe clientele has a savvy look about them - the place is filled with construction workers and mail carriers, well known as the pilot fish of primo lunch spots. And then there are the semi-unemployed, like me, and the productive members of society, like non-profit Liz, who started this whole affair by whispering, "mmm....steakburger cheese..." in the middle of our Tuesday night GIS class, causing the stomachs of the entire class to rumble in unison, and our professor to duck under a table for fear of earthquake.

Physically, this place couldn't be more unassuming. For months, I thought it was an office building that just happened to post its hours of operation prominently. Inside, the decor is minimal and odd: Marilyn Monroe paraphernalia is sprinkled about, and there is a fabulous portrait of a very beefy steer, topped by a pair of real horns, which I openly covet. Perhaps it used to be a copy shop — it's still got the fluorescent lighting, dropped ceilings, and indoor/outdoor gray carpet. But we all know that when it comes to love, looks aren't everything.


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