A cheeseburger and fries from Charm City Burger, a new lunch… (Richard Gorelick, Baltimore…)
Gourmet burger joints have been popping up all over town. Some of them are regional and national chains like Five Guys Burger and Fries and Bobby's Burger Palace. A few independently owned burger boutiques like Baltimore Burger Bar in Hampden and Burger Brothers are competing for the burger-lovers dollar, too. Each one has its specialties and its fans.
Charm City Burger opened Downtown on Baltimore Street a few months ago. It's an independently owned joint that you may mistake for a chain. This is a counter operation, clean and efficient. Customers can eat their burgers in one of the Charm City Burger's booths or take it back to the office.
There's a condiment twist worth mentioning. Only after your burger's off the grill do you tell the counterman what toppings you want added. Then, he puts the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and sauce on while you watch.
The basic $4.19 burger is one-third pound. A cheeseburger is just $4.49 and a bacon cheeseburger is $4.79. But a combination meal, where you get a burger, fries and a fountain soda is just $4.99. So you figure, you might as well go for the combo.
The burger at Charm City Burger is juicy and it's nice that it's grilled to order. But a little bit of seasoning would help it seem less like a frozen patty and a good toasting would have helped the bun. The tomato and shredded lettuce are a little tired, and I had to open up my sandwich to see if I had actually been given the cheese I ordered. I had, but I couldn't taste it at all.
What you're left with, then, is a decent hamburger, the kind we used to get before gourmet burgers hit the big time. For the price and convenience, Charm City Burger could earn a Downtown following. The menu also includes charbroiled chicken, wraps, wings, cheese steaks, hot dogs and cheese fries, along with egg sandwiches.
If there was a true disappointment, it was with the fries, which weren't salted at all.
The biggest draw, though, might be elbow room. There aren't many affordable lunches places downtown where officer workers can spread out over lunch. Charm City Burger is close enough to the courthouses and police headquarters to serve as an informal meeting room.
Charm City Burger
Where: 227 E. Baltimore St.
Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. for breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday
Lunch entrees: $4.79-$6.49
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