The burger menu at Emma Keys contains a long sidebar of options, most of them free, allowing patrons to build their own burgers. The base charge is cheaper than the predesigned concoctions, meaning that even with extra charge items including an egg, guacamole or Neese’s sausage, the price is right.
It may be the right approach to take, especially for a regular customer looking for something different than a somewhat familiar cast of rotating toppings on custom burgers. The best exception, and the standout on the menu, is the Hotel California.
Served with guacamole, grilled onions and tomatoes, provolone and a masterful sriracha pepper sauce, the Hotel California is a well-rounded burger with toppings that function symbiotically.
There’s another that comes with pimiento cheese, a North Carolina favorite that seems to be a must for most new-wave burger spots, and two vegan veggie burgers, too. And, in the light of the Fourth of July, I must digress to add that Emma Keys has the most impressive hot dog menu I can remember seeing in the Triad. There’s even a Chicago-style dog among the handful of options.
Fries aren’t included with the burgers, but are a worthwhile addition that comes in such a large quantity, even as a small, that sharing is a must.
Despite a battle with neighboring Sticks & Stones over parking, it’s still not too difficult to find a spot to ditch the car. It may even be worth parking at the arboretum up the road and taking the walk through Lindley Park to feel like the burger has been earned.
[This article is part of the cover story “The Hamburger Renaissance” published on July 2, 2014.]