I’m a stickler about properly cooked burgers. If you’re going to ask me how I want it (medium rare, please), then it should be nice and pink in the middle. Not raw, not grey, but pink and juicy.
Which is why I was pretty bummed on my first visit to Bibi’s Burger Bar in downtown Santa Rosa when my medium rare turned out well-done. The well-done burger we ordered? Medium rare.
But on a second, less busy visit the burgers weren’t just properly cooked, they were, as my exacting chef friend described them, solid. And not just solid, in my opinion, but memorable.
Bibi’s Burger Bar is the restaurant that should have always existed in this high-traffic downtown space. Stocked with a full bar, creative cocktails, milkshakes and a lengthy list of burgers, fried spuds, salads and a few entrees, Bibi’s Burgers stakes its claim on beefy patties topped with everything under the sun: from Thai coleslaw and portobella mushrooms to a pile of homemade chili or just a plain old bacon and cheddar (or nothing at all).
The restaurant’s consulting chefs seem to have put their stamp on the menu with bun-to-bun care, using toasted Franco American buns, fresh produce and creative twists like smoky Gouda on The Smokey ($12, with chipotle mayo, bbq sauce and bacon), or the towering Parmigiana ($14) that includes a breaded burger, marinara, an onion ring and mozzarella on buttered sourdough bread.
A vegetarian burger is in the works, and we think a turkey alternative would work beautifully as an alternative to some of the heavier burgers. Here are some of our favorites:
• Thai Burger ($11): Chili lemongrass coleslaw, lime mayo, carrots and daikon radish. We’d love this with a turkey or veggie option.
• Cabernet Burger ($13): Local Carmody cheese, portobella mushroom, horseradish sour cream and mustard. Can be made vegetarian without the beef patty.
• Connecticut Style Steamed Cheeseburger ($12): Classic burger taste that’s so juicy you need extra napkins and a trough. Comes with aged white cheddar and needs to be cooked medium-well for consistency.
• Bibi’s Nachos ($9.50): Homemade chili, and the usual fixins surprised us all with just how good nachos could be.
• Crisp Green Beans ($7): Pretend you’re getting your green for the day.
• Rhu-Barbarian cocktail ($8): Sky strawberry vodka, lime, strawberry, rhubarb bitters, cilantr-oh-my-goodness so yummy.
• Smore’s Shake: You will not want to share. Nutella, Graham crackers, torched marshmallow.
Our take: A solid Santa Rosa burger.
Bibi’s Burger Bar: 630 Third St., Santa Rosa, bibisr.com. Open for lunch and dinner daily.