A wise man once said, "Cheeseburgers are the cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast." While I'm not sure that statement can be backed up by a glance at the Food Pyramid or by a consultation with your personal trainer, one bite into a juicy burger will convince you to abandon all of your best intentions.
Burgers are beloved for the same reasons that pizza is—they're delicious, decadent and infinitely customizable. It's hard to believe the standard McDonald's cheeseburger is considered to be the same food as The Royal Dorian, a burger topped with foie gras and truffle cheese served on a silver platter. That's what makes burgers so damn fun.
When I was a little kid, I used to spend hours glued to Comedy Central reruns of old episodes of Saturday Night Live. I was quoting Eddie Murphy's Gumby at the age when I should have still been enamored with the less grumpy version of the claymation character. Inevitably, I started yelling "Cheeseburger Cheeseburger, no Coke, Pepsi!" in a faux-Greek accent after watching this classic skit a couple hundred times.
That skit is based on an actual place, The Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago. It's a tiny little hole in the wall diner/bar located under Michigan Avenue. The original SNL skit was written by Don Novello, who prior to writing for SNL had worked in advertising in Chicago. The Billy Goat was (and still is, to some degree) a magnet for newspapermen who worked at the two major papers located just above the Goat, The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times. Legendary writers like Mike Royko, Dave Condon and the duo of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert used to wind down at the Goat after work with a couple of Old Styles and a burger or two.
I've spent more than a few hours in the Goat myself—one time my friends and I were there for an entire work shift—and I have hundreds of vivid memories of the joint. One time I tried to order a pitcher of beer, only to be rebuffed by the gruff Greek behind the bar who pointed up and said, "Only pitchers on the wall."
But the enduring memory I have from the Goat is the way they never fail to attempt an upsell on your order. You ask for a single cheeseburger, "No, double cheese the best." When you ask for a triple cheeseburger, a true behemoth, you know they're going to push you to get a quadruple. It's endearing and, quite honestly, one hell of an effective business plan.
I'm a cheeseburger lover through and through, but I have yet to get a cheeseburger tattoo. But after peeping the gallery below, I think that is going to change soon.