Sunday, March 31, 2013

Membership Has Its Privileges at Riders Club

The Riders Club Cafe
1701 El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

I guess it is no surprise that we love burgers. We started this blog partially because we wanted to find the best hamburger that is offered in our area. In the three and a half years that we have had this blog, we have written about 65 different burger places. That is roughly 15 percent of our just over 400 posts have featured burgers. I guess you can say that we are a little obsessed.

In those three and half years a number of burgers stand out. The over the top half bacon, half ground beef burger at Slater's 50/50, the great flavor profiles of the Burger Parlor in Fullerton, the very well made, yet simple burger from Mick's Karma Bar, and my favorite burger up until this point, G Burger, from the far outpost of  La Habra. Now our burger beat takes us from the counties most northern city, to the city that is the most southern, San Clemente, where we have heard good things about Riders Club Cafe.

Riders Club Cafe came across my radar while the OC Weekly was doing their Game of Burgers contest. That contest never did declare a winner, but I tried some good burgers because of it. Riders Club did not even get out of the first round of that contest because they went up against Mick's Karma Bar. That was a tough matchup for sure, because Mick's makes a very solid burger. There were only 32 burger places in this OC Weekly contest, so I had some high hopes for the burger at Riders Club.

Riders Club Cafe is kind of off by itself. I do not know this area too well, but there does not seem to be anything else really around the restaurant. We got to Riders Club at about 6pm on a Saturday night. We must have hit it at a good time because there were only two people ahead of us in line, and after we ordered the line was close to being out the door. The menu is located right next to the register, on a chalkboard. It is not a very big menu. Only four food items on it; the burger, a hot dog, carnitas sandwich, and a club salad. After ordering, finding a place to sit in this tiny ten table restaurant can be a challenge. We got lucky and found a place outside. The food was brought out by the hard working surfer looking guys working here. Let's see if the burgers from Riders Club will be as memorable as others we have had.

Up first is Katie's burger. The burgers at Riders Club are of the build your own variety. The lettuce, pickle, raw or grilled onions, and house spread come with the burger automatically. You of course have the option to add additional items for an extra charge. From the extras list she selected the goat cheese spread and mushrooms. With these two extras at one dollar each, her burger was $9.95. She could not have been happier with this juicy burger. She felt all of the toppings came together to create a subtle flavor that did not overtake the flavor of the beef. She was also a big fan of the freshness of this burger. It did not leave a heaviness that other burgers leave you with sometimes. On future visits here, she would be hard pressed to get anything but this burger.

I sometimes go overboard at these build your own burger places. I have to learn that simplicity is the key when trying out a burger place for the first time. Even with that said, I still really enjoyed my creation here at Riders Club. With my burger I added a poached egg, bacon, cheddar cheese, and avocado. This burger was delicious, but I should have gotten it with a runny egg, or not gotten the egg at all because it was overcooked. Like Katie had said, the toppings were all very good, but they did not detract from the beef here. All of the items were very fresh. I would have liked a little more of their house spread on this, but I always like a lot more sauce than the usual burger eater. The bun is also worth noting at Riders Club. It was very soft, but still held the contents of the burger nicely. There are no fries at Riders Club, their burgers are served with kettle chips. To tell you the truth I did not even miss the fries, because I liked the thickness of the kettle chips.

You know that I was not just going to come down here to just have a burger, I also needed to try one of their Chili Dogs ($3.00). This chili dog featured their home cooked chili, sharp cheddar cheese and red onion. The hot dog was good, but nothing that would make me order it again. It was definitely an all beef hot dog with a decent snap to it. The chili was good and smooth, but a little too mild for my taste. The bun was pretty average.

I left Riders Club Cafe very satisfied, and pretty impressed with their burgers. Where do they rank out of all the burgers in OC? They definitely have a place on the Mount Rushmore of OC burgers that I have tried so far. That puts them in the top four. Nothing gets people more heated than when you mention what you consider to be your top burgers. Okay, maybe pizza gets people ramped up as well, but burgers are a very close second. I would definitely make the trek back down to San Clemente for another burger anytime. I would also like to try their carnitas sandwich on future visits. With the cramped quarters of this restaurant it might be a challenge coming here, but it will definitely be worth it once you have one of their burgers.

Out of five surfboards, (not only because the city of San Clemente has a number of surfboard manufacturers, but also the San Clemente High School surf team has won numerous national championships), five being best to zero being worst, The Riders Club Cafe gets 3.5 surfboards.

For more information about The Riders Club Cafe, click here:

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