Ah, Chester's Hamburgers. This local chain seemingly evokes strong feelings, both positive and negative, from born-and-bred San Antonians. Justice Warren E. Burger believes that Chester's burger is "pretty close to a perfect burger." In contrast, a co-worker heard about our jaunt to Chester's and called me specifically to express his disappointment with Chester's because they stopped serving a poppy seed bun. He likened Chester's to nothing more than a glorified Whataburger. I strongly disagree, and even if what this co-worker says is true, I personally think Whataburger is the best fast-food burger in town. I had to post this person's thoughts because, frankly, he could have me fired if I didn't. But I digress...
Chester's clearly thinks very highly of itself. While I like the show of self-confidence, so vividly advertising that you were voted the "best burger in town and the state" may only be setting yourself up to failure and/or unreachably high expectations from prospective patrons. I also have to point out the redundancy of this statement- why would you have to say that you're the best burger in town if you are already the best burger in the whole state of Texas? Also, who participated in this so-called vote? Finally, if you are the best burger in town and the state, why are you pushing your fish basket so hard?
That last dig is unfair, as we visited Chester's during Lent. I just felt compelled to point out the "fintastic" marketing for their Lenten fare.
For this particular visit we headed to the Chester's located just off of I-10, near USAA. We should note that there are several Chester's locations in town in addition to the one near USAA.
When walking into Chester's, you immediately notice the standard burger joint decorations- road and beer signs. Maybe we've visited one too many burger joints, but this decor seems played out and stale.
Perhaps in an effort to set themselves apart from the run-of-the-mill burger joint, Chester's filled their windows with classy stained glass pieces. Did it make a difference? In this blogger's opinion, the answer is negative.
Chester's menu is somewhat extensive and clearly posted behind the cash registers. We particularly appreciated the selection of burger-add ons and sides. Chester's reassures its patrons that it uses "Real Ice Cream," as opposed to fake ice cream. This reassurance prompted many of us to try out the shakes, which turned out to be an excellent decision. Unlike Five Guys (see post #15), Chester's had the perfect number of employees and operated as a well-oiled machine. Our food was served relatively quickly, which was impressive considering the place was busting at the seams with patrons. Burgermeister Meisterburger commented "nice touch that they had multiple upfront people - one to take your order, one to ring you up and take your money, one to pour your drink, and one to call out your order when ready - division of labor is soooo important under the current Obama administration." Not sure what B.M. is talking about here, but clearly he's upset that his fellow octogenarian lost the election...
Chester's selection of beer, which was prominently displayed behind the counter, was a nice surprise. If I didn't have to go back to work, or if I was less concerned with keeping my job, I would have enjoyed the beautiful Spring day with a beer and a burger in Chester's fantastic outdoor, covered seating area.
The Burger - 8 out of 10
On to what really matters- the burger. Chester's burger quickly makes you overlook the forgettable decor, ridiculous signage and any other shortcomings of the restaurant. The burger itself was perfectly seasoned and served on a buttered and toasted bun.
Here's what fellow blog contributors had to say:
Fry Daddy - "Burger was delicious - definitely one of the best so far"
Hamburglar - "It's a good burger, but not quite the 'Best Burger in San Antonio and the State,' as claimed on the sign hanging outside of the building."
Burgermeister Meisterburger - "the toppings (i.e. lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc..) really helped and the burger was nicely seasoned"
Overall, Chester's burger received an average score of 8 out of 10 from our contributors.
Sides - 6 out of 10
Everyone was pretty horrified by the fries. Fry Daddy had a case of limp fries on a prior visit, so he ordered them "extra crispy." The results were not good, and the fries were universally panned. Most attributed the poor taste to the extra crispy request, but I, on the other hand, attribute it to Chester's storage procedures for the potatoes:
Those of us who ordered the onion rings were better off for it, although Hamburglar commented that "the onion rings, although tasty, reminded me of the onion rings at Burger King."
There was no option to have a half order of fries and a half order of rings, and similarly, there was no tater tot availability. Everyone commented on the awesomeness of the "real ice cream" shakes. We highly recommend purchasing one on your trip to Chester's.
Ambiance - 6 out of 10
Most of us enjoyed the outdoor seating, and regretted that we couldn't enjoy a beer on the beautiful San Antonio Spring day (especially Fry Daddy).
We had some pretty interesting (and funny) comments on ambiance, so I figured I'd post them all:
Burgermeister Meisterburger: "nice outdoor seating and I can imagine myself having a selection of one of their many beers - however, no place for a [barber shop quartet]..."
Prefers His Tots Tatered: "I've been going here since I was a kid and the place hasn't changed a bit. It's what I call a classic burger joint. Picnic tables, check. Big screen TV, check."
Justice Warren E. Burger: "It felt a little forced, like they were trying to create too much of a down home atmosphere (ala Lord's Kitchen) but also making it presentable for the squares. You can't have it both ways. Either its a dive or its corporate bs. Chester's attempted to split the baby, and mostly succeeded."
Burger Queen: "Fake outdoor seating was key."
Hamburglar: "The darkness of the restaurant and the stained glass made me feel like I was in Chester's Church. The covered patio outside is nice, but it unfortunately looks right on I-10."
Fry Daddy: "Not unlike other burger joints we'd been to, with various license plates and other knick-knacks adorning the walls. Extra point or two for the outside dining area."
Overall, I think my fellow burger bloggers would agree that Chester's provides a high quality burger. While it has some shortcomings, Chester's ranks with some of the heavy hitters in town.