41 West Hillsdale Blvd, San Mateo, California 94403 (also in other US locations)
Good for: Everyone
Price Range: Reasonable
Features: Burgers made to order, reservable area
There are two reasons why I avoided eating at The Counter, where you can get ‘custom built burgers’, when it first opened. First, it was always busy. Second, I’m not that big of a hamburger fan so another burger joint did not seem appetizing. One Sunday afternoon, my family and I decided to pop by and were delightfully surprised. After being given a clipboard with an order sheet and huge menu, we tried to figure out what to get. The meat and condiments were anything but standard and it all sounded so good.
The order form asks for your choice of the following five items: burger, cheese, toppings, sauce, and bun. The burger could be chicken, beef, turkey, or veggie and the smallest 1/3-lb ended up being the perfect size for each of us. There were so many options in the other categories that it took us a LONG time to figure out our orders. We saw so many tasty items but had to decide on what would taste good together versus things we just liked in general. Instead of listing them all here you can feel free to check out their menu yourself. I love the fact that you chose what you wanted one the burger instead of having to specify what you don’t want on it, which is what I usually have to do since I’m picky (hey, it’s true).
After a fairly quick turnaround we were ready to dig in. We loved it. The meat was cooked just right (my daughter and I had chicken while my husband had beef) and the toppings fit together perfectly. Each of us had our hands dripping with a different sauce and very little conversation took place as we downed our meals. My daughter was not as happy with her meal but that was because the peanut sauce she ordered did not taste like the one we usually get from the Thai restaurant (a bit bland). She still ate it but will probably put more thought into her order next time. If you’re a fan of sweet potato fries you may like them here but we preferred the regular ones on the side. There was a lot of seating and the space is much larger than you may guess from the outside, especially with more tables available on the second floor.
As a late lunch or early dinner, and with clothes you don’t mind dripping all over, head over to The Counter for a meal custom made just for you.