A four-pack of places where you don’t expect great burgers. | Cover Collections

Maybe in a country where the average person eats three burgers a week, for a national average of 50, gulp, billion a year as a society, and they’re served in hospitals, gas stations and fancy restaurants, it shouldn’t surprise us to find them waiting virtually anywhere.

Still, a burger at a place called Fish N Chips – where the owners claim both authentic English-style fish and chips and standout Mexican plates like menudo – c’mon. And the thing is… it’s good, thanks to a homemade patty with a family recipe blend of seasoning on a sesame-seed bun, and jalapeño, avocado and bacon permutations.

Another surprising destination for good burgers: lunch-only Ferdi’s Creole Restaurant. Residents who have lived on the Monterey Peninsula for decades still don’t realize the Seaside restaurant is there at all, let alone that it serves something beyond jambalaya, gumbo, muffaletta sandwiches and red beans and rice. The Big Easy only comes out to play on Fridays, but it’s well worth the pilgrimage. The differentiating factors include the spicy Cajun seasoning blend, an American French roll from Claudio’s, American cheese and the top-secret Worcestershire-based sauce it’s dressed and poached in. They may have to take it to the everyday menu, as they did the outstanding blackened chicken sandwich special.

Then there’s local institution Bruno’s Market in Carmel, another revelation. The burgers in the deli often sell out, despite the fact they’re not really advertised. Such is the power, and the enthusiasm, of the word-of-mouth they generate (which is how I heard about them). The burger proves up to the hype, thanks to a super-thick patty that’s grilled rare over oak in the morning and finished briefly in the microwave, and the full checklist of deli sandwich condiments, including homemade chipotle spread, sprouts and pepperoncinis, all for about $6.

And most folks don’t expect a seafood-leaning tropical spot like Hula’s Island Grill to bring the thunder like it does, but here it is, a delicious buger nestled beneath a massive slice of melted jack cheese with Cajun seasoning, “hula sauce” and a relaxing vibe on the side.

  • Bruno’s Market Junipero and Sixth, Carmel, (831) 624-3821
  • Hula’s Island Grill 622 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey, (831) 655-4852, hulastiki.com
  • Fish N Chips 2010 North Main St., Salinas, (831) 422-0313
  • Ferdi’s Creole Restaurant 740 Broadway Ave., Seaside, (831) 394-2244

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