Tom’s has everything a great burger joint should have: a retro-diner look, a wide menu of broiler burger combinations and tots that might make you forget french fries ever existed. The only thing Tom’s didn’t have on our visit was execution. The bacon-Swiss “stuffed” burger-of-the-month arrived with brown juice running onto the plate, and was doused in way too much onion-mayo. The few bacon crumbles were difficult to locate — they were “stuffed” on the other half of the burger between the double patties — and the meat was soft but had little taste. Still, the brioche bun, the rich red tomato and shredded lettuce all were among the absolute best.
But Tom’s was up against perennial finalist Charley’s, on top of its game even on a slow Sunday. A comparable bacon-Swiss burger was loaded with flavor and appropriately restrained mayo. Both the lettuce and tomato seemed better than on past Charley’s visits. And Charley’s has something most burgers lack: pepper. Owner Charley Bell has never been shy with the pepper, and it only complemented a juicy, classic burger that could have come out of a how-to burger textbook. This might be the burger to beat.