The Eureka restaurant in downtown Berkeley is riding triple waves of popularity for artisan burgers, craft beer and American-made whiskeys. The canny owners only started the Eureka! group in 2009, and now have 10 locations throughout California with others open in Seattle.
Eureka Burger in Berkeley
The newest, on Center Street in Berkeley, California, beckons with inviting, contemporary décor. From the street, it looks too upscale to be a burger joint, and Eureka! is no joint at all, and it imbues its casual food and drink with creative twists on classic American favorites – beer, burger, fries and salads.
The burgers are built from 100% vegetarian-fed, hormone-and-antibiotic-free beef, and French Fries are hand-cut from fresh Kennebec potatoes, which many chefs maintain make the best fries because of their negligible water content and superior taste.
The dozen or so types of burgers can be ordered with patties of beef, turkey, or vegetarian protein. They can be on a bun, in a wrap, between crisp Iceberg lettuce cups or “naked” on a bed of dressed arugula. And it’s not all burgers: crab cake sliders, grilled chicken breast sandwiches and seared salmon, among other dishes, are available.
My table tasted two burgers, the Fresno Fig Burger ($11.25) and Jalapeno Egg Burger (11.50). Fig marmalade, soft goat cheese, thick-cut bacon, tomato, onion, and arugula in a spicy porter mustard melded together beautifully and, surprisingly, did not detract from the thick, juicy meat. A perfectly-cooked fried egg atop that same juicy burger with melted cheddar, bacon, chipotle sauce, and jalapeno peppers had many flavor components happening without over-powering the burger.
Among the appetizers I tasted were Lollipop Corn Dogs ($7.50) made from all-natural Polish sausage and served with three tasty sauces; Osso Buco Riblets ($8.95), wine-braised pork riblets coated in a “fire cracker aioli,” that tasted like a creamy Buffalo sauce.
You wouldn’t normally expect a place that specializes in burgers to do a good job with salads, especially delicate ones, but the Watermelon Salad ($11.25) was a lovely, cool antidote to the heartiness of the rest of the food with its quinoa, mix of diced raw vegetables, walnuts, cranberry, and watermelon spears drizzled with balsamic dressing. The salad is garnished with feta cheese, but hold the feta and it’s a vegan dish.
As a side dish salad, the Pacific Coleslaw ($3.50) with a sprinkling of peanuts, was yummy.
Less successful were the King Crab Cake Sliders ($14.95) – not bad at all, but a little ho-hum on a menu with more interesting flavor combinations. Golden Sweet Potato Fries were not a favorite, either, because of the added sweetness of drizzled honey and cinnamon. If the goal was to taste like a Thanksgiving side dish, it works, but it’s not something I want to accompany my brawny burger.
Eureka: Whiskey and craft beer bar
At Eureka it’s not just about the burger. The chain focuses on craft beer and whiskey – all American-made.
You can sip whiskey cocktails or discover small-production whiskeys in a flight of four pours. Craft beer comes in those flights, too, and you can get a half-whiskey, half-beer flight.
Pairing beers with the different dishes has been carefully thought out. If this feels like virgin territory to you — don’t worry, the staff has plenty of suggestions. I would never have ordered a beer accompaniment to my dessert of butterscotch pudding, but the combo of the pudding with a rich Old Rasputin Imperial Stout was sublime.
Hoppy Hour takes place from 2-6 p.m. daily with $1.00 off draft and bottled beer and $2.00 off all wine and certain vodkas. Appetizers are discounted, as well.
For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @EurekaBurger on Twitter.
If You Go:
Eureka! (510) 809-8282
2068 Center Street, Berkeley, California 94704
This is a guest post by Janice Fuhrman who was a guest of Eureka. All photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown.