Since the International House of Pancakes transitioned to the International House of Burgers, the Alestle staff decided to visit some of the top burger spots in the Metro East to see how IHOP stacks up.
4233 S. State Route 159
Glen Carbon, Ill., 62034
1 out of 5 stars
IHOP (or IHOB) has some of the worst burgers we tried. The expectations were already low for IHOP’s burgers (it’s a breakfast place that people tend to end up at while intoxicated, after all), but it is shocking how utterly greasy and disgusting they were.
As it’s IHOP, there really isn’t a lot to expect from the setting. The service is usually just okay, the place looks decent, and that’s about it. There’s generally some random music playing. At its best, IHOP is just alright. It’s not the place to go for an abundance of quality.
We tried two burgers: the “classic cheeseburger,” and the “jalapeno kick.” The classic cheeseburger came with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and something called the “IHOP sauce.” We have no idea what the IHOP sauce was, but its taste was akin to the horrid smelling juice at the bottom of a trash can.
The jalapeño kick was adorned with bacon, pepper-jack cheese, jalapeños, lettuce, tomato and jalapeño mayo.
The classic is the cheapest of the burgers at only $6.99, and the jalapeño kick is $9.49. The price also includes fries or hash browns.
While inexpensive, we’d much rather go to any other burger place.
We thought there was no way to mess up a classic cheeseburger (spoiler, it was awful), yet the jalapeño kick was somehow worse.
Once the burgers finally arrived, we knew it was going to be terrible.
The burgers were drenched in grease, the lettuce was soggy and the meat still looked kind of pink.
However, after the first bite, it proved to be worse than expected. Imagine if a McDonald’s cheeseburger was just bigger and topped with a disgusting sauce.
The jalapeño kick had no flavor, which is odd, considering the overwhelming amount of jalapeños. There was no kick at all. It just tasted bland. The meat was somehow even worse than on the cheeseburger.
Within minutes of finishing the food, we felt incredibly sick to our stomachs and had to sleep
the pain off.
Seriously, for the following two days, we were sick to our stomachs and barely ate.
There is no reason to try these burgers. These should not enter anyone’s stomach, unless the person is highly intoxicated and/or dragged here. For the sake of a person’s stomach and well-being, they should avoid it at all costs.
4317 Manchester Ave.
St. Louis, Mo., 63110
3 out of 5 stars
Layla prides itself on being Saint Louis’s “only Gourmet Burger & Shawarma Joint,” so needless to say, we had high expectations of the burger we ate.
We arrived at Layla around noon on a Friday and were surprised to find it almost empty, given the time and day. Granted, the restaurant did start to fill around 12:30 p.m.
The 70’s-themed burger joint played fitting music from the era and had décor to match. It had a chill vibe and relaxing atmosphere, though it was a little dark when sitting at certain tables, and we felt the chilly air conditioning at the table until it kicked off.
Aside from the interesting décor, the server was very down-to-earth, thoughtful and patient when taking our orders and the food came out at a normal time after we ordered.
Speaking of orders, let us share what we had.
We started off with the recommended falafel fries as an appetizer. These were cooked to crispy fry perfection. Paired with their house-made ranch sauce, it was probably the highlight of the experience. The fries were even gluten-free, an added delight for us.
Now for the part you’ve been waiting for: the burger. We’ve had better. It was almost $19 for just the burger, which was the Burger #33 cooked medium-rare topped with bacon, a fried egg, tomato, lettuce, onions and pickles. It was not a burger we would come back for (not the same is to be said about those falafel fries, which our only complaint was that there weren’t more).
Our burgers were not cooked to our order specifications, instead they were well-done and dried out. Even the bacon was disappointing. The bacon!
Needless to say, it wasn’t all bad in the food section — the house-made sauces came in clutch for all our dipping and pouring needs, especially, with our sides of sweet potato fries (yes, more fries). The sweet potato fries were also cooked to perfection. Crispy, crunchy, salty and sweet. The fries made it seem that Layla should advertise on selling the best fries in St. Louis instead of their average-tasting “gourmet” burgers.
Oh, and we got waters to drink. The water was nice. No straws so we saved some plastic too.
1033 McCausland Ave.
St. Louis, Mo., 63117
3.5 out of 5 stars
Hi-Pointe Drive-In claims they offer the “best burgers in St. Louis,” but their basic option left a lot to be desired.
The burger joint is also not a cheap place to grab a bite. We ordered a double cheeseburger with fries and a soda, which ran us $14.44 in total.
It might be the case that a plain double cheeseburger isn’t the best option to get at a place that has daily specials, but we believe that a place that speaks so highly of itself should at least be able to give a good, simple burger.
To be clear, the burger wasn’t bad by any stretch — it was just
a far cry from the best burger in the city.
The burger’s main issue comes from its bun. A plain white bun toasted like garlic bread should be a solid addition to any burger, but it was far too overpowering on this one and made it seem like the entire burger was entirely over-salted.
With that said, the meat and cheese were actually much better than the dish as a whole suggested.
The meat was juicy and perfectly balanced with the cheese — we went with American cheese on our burger, but they offered at least six options to choose from.
The fries were thick, like steak fries, but hand cut, and a good pair for the burger.
If you’ve ever visited one of the Sugarfire Smokehouse locations around the city, you may be familiar with Hi-Pointe’s soda selection (or some of the uniforms on employees), as the two are sister restaurants and share the same non-standard soda options.
While Hi-Pointe Drive-In may not be the best place to grab a standard burger, their specialty options did look interesting. Even if their offering isn’t what you’re looking, their specials change daily and can be found on their Instagram.
If you’re looking for something unique, Hi-Pointe might be the place for you. However, if you’re just looking for a standard burger, you’d be better off looking elsewhere.
Mac’s Local Eats
1225 Tamm Ave.
St. Louis, Mo., 63139
4 out of 5 stars
Mac’s Local Eats offers a delicious burger for a price that is too high for its size.
This small, local burger joint is located in St. Louis, just south of Forest Park and would be a great place to start a night out at the bars.
The bar area at Mac’s takes up most of the space, while there is a dining room and an outside sitting area connected as well. To get food, you simply order at the window of the kitchen and wait until they send you a text that your food is ready.
The bar offers a large drink selection, so if you’re looking for a place to get a quick burger and a few drinks, this might be your place.
However, don’t expect to be completely filled up without forking over some extra money.
Their menu is decently sized and allows you to customize your burger in a few ways. The classic burger starts at $6, but goes up in price for every patty added. If you want a basket of fries, they are $4 extra. We tried a double classic burger with fries that totaled around $13.
The burger itself had a great taste, but its thin patties and small bun were not enough to satisfy in the way larger burgers can.
To get the full experience, you may have to try one of the larger burgers, like the Captain, which contains four patties for $13. But for hungry college students, there may be cheaper establishments that offer similar quality food for a lower price.
One thing that definitely helped the experience was the quality of service. The employee working behind the counter and the other staff members were much more friendly and accommodating than they needed to be at a bar and grill. The food also came out quickly, and the text alert system was efficient.
The atmosphere was also comfortable, with friends and families (and even dogs on the patio) sharing time together.
So, if you’re in St. Louis and looking for a place to have some drinks and get a quick bite to eat, Mac’s is definitely a good option if you’re willing to spend some money. If not, it may not be worth the trip from Edwardsville unless you’re looking to try something new.
Fast Eddie’s Bon-Air
1530 E 4th St.
Alton, Ill., 62002
3.5 out of 5 stars
Fast Eddie’s is a staple of a 21st birthday in the Metro East, but if you’ve never been there, you may not know that their best asset is their inexpensive bar food.
There’s a one-drink minimum to order food from the kitchen, but even with tacking a $4 Whiskey and Coke onto our order, we still got a ton of food for around $10.
Unfortunately, their one-drink minimum also means that no one under 21 is allowed in the building whatsoever.
The burger itself is a half-pound of beef topped with cheese on a sesame seed bun, all for $2.39 — burgers are $1.99 without cheese.
While a $2 burger from a bar may not sound appetizing, it was actually enjoyable. The patty was juicy, the bun was fresh and the cheese, while probably just a kraft single, was a good addition to the burger. While it was served plain, without any sort of vegetables or special additions, the simplicity worked.
We also ordered a basket of fries — a whopping $.99 — and a pork kebab — another $1.99 — to get a better feeling for the menu. Both of these dishes were enjoyable, but far too salty.
The fries were similar to McDonald’s fries — crispy, hot and thin — but at some points, the oversaturation of salt had us feeling like we had been walking in the desert for weeks without a drop of water.
The pork kebab, likewise, wasn’t terrible, but the overly-salted taste keeps us from calling them great. Despite that, the meat was juicy and satisfying. Just like the burger, you won’t be finding any vegetables with your kebab, just a large stick of grilled meat.
It’s important to know there is no carryout at Fast Eddie’s, so if you’re interested in getting some of the cheapest bar food around, you’ll have to stick around for a bit.
However, the food comes out fairly quickly. There were two large orders and at least four smaller orders ahead of us, and it still only took the staff 15 minutes to get our order up.
Additionally, Fast Eddie’s offers live music or a DJ most nights, and the venue is always good to people watch, so long as you’re entertained by entirely-too-drunk birthday groups.
While Fast Eddie’s may not be an option for all students, for those over 21, it is a solid choice for a cheap bite to eat, whether it’s before, during or after you party.