If you’ve ever been to Hollywood, you know that there’s a certain amount of grit that goes with the glamour, a working-stiff funkiness away from the more touristy parts. We were reminded of this at the original Hollywood Burger, a modest-looking joint in a similarly humble strip shopping center on Blue Mound Road in Saginaw.
This location, open a little more than a year, has proved successful enough that two more stores have opened, one on Wichita Street in south Fort Worth, the other more recently on North Beach Street in far north Fort Worth, once again in a strip center, albeit a slightly more showy one.
At the original, pictures of Hollywood icons — James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Godfather-era Marlon Brando — adorn the walls, but on our visits, the customer base has consisted of urban supporting players such as police officers and construction workers. The most glitzy thing on the menu is a fat 1-pound chuck burger that costs less than 10 bucks, but if you’re a meat-lover, you’re going to get more than your money’s worth, no matter what you order here.
Hollywood burger bears a Korean influence, with bulgogi burgers, Korean barbecue and kimchi fries among the offerings. But if you’re after something less exotic, there’s plenty of that, too, with 15 beef-burger offerings as well as salmon, turkey and veggie burgers and chicken, catfish and BLT sandwiches.
But we’re burger-obsessed, and we focused on the burgers, starting with a straightforward bacon-cheese burger ($5.95). Other then the bacon and American cheese, the burger comes unadorned, a flat but wide and beefy Angus patty on a toasted, buttered bun; a fixin’s bar includes lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and condiments.
The patty had good flavor, the bacon was crisp, and once again we were reminded that American cheese best serves its purpose when it’s melted in a gooey mess on top of something. The cheese was even more effective in the Tex-Mex burger ($5.95), a jalapeño cheeseburger that — well, let’s just say that my mouth starts watering at the memory. (Combos, featuring a 20-ounce drink and fries, are an additional $2.50; the fries were decent but unexceptional and definitely needed ketchup.)
The friend who accompanied me on a couple visits, who was stationed in South Korea when he was in the Army, went for the bulgogi burger ($6.95): sliced, marinated rib-eye atop the beef patty, with grilled onions, mushroom and provolone cheese. He praised the slightly spicy, slightly sweet taste of the bulgogi.
On a later visit, I ordered the similar dejigogi burger ($6.95) — with spicy marinated pork slices and jalapeños along with the onions and provolone — and was pleased with the slow-burn spiciness and the different but complementing flavors and textures of the pork and beef. My friend ordered the chuck burger ($8.95), which comes with bacon, bell peppers, grilled onions, mushrooms, jalapeños and cheddar cheese; throw in the 1-pound patty and you have a big, gloppy mess. The buns struggled unsuccessfully to stand up to all the ingredients, but my dining companion — when he wasn’t wiping grease off his face with a napkin — kept talking about what a great burger it was.
We both liked the kimchi fries ($4.95), which came covered in melted cheese as well as kimchi, the spicy, fermented cabbage (its trademark pungent aroma practically jumped off the plate). Good heat from the kimchi, but the cheese was rendered a little redundant by the more powerful flavors, and the texture of the fries suffered a little bit. This is a french-fry dish best eaten with a fork.
Vegetarians should know that the veggie burger ($5.95), which we didn’t sample, is a standard black-bean patty, although the toppings — avocado, mushroom and provolone — at least show a little more imagination than some fast-casual veggie burgers. As for us omnivores, we’ll be back to sample the Korean barbecue ($7.99) and the teriyaki chicken sandwich ($5.95). To twist the title of an old Billy Joel song, we’re finding it hard to say goodbye to Hollywood.