Well it took me a long time burger fans, but I’m back! After a summer hiatus, my Burger Buddy Leah and I hit the road to realize yet another burger dream: Rocky’s Burger Bus. You know it’s good when a place doesn’t even have its own WEBSITE! I like it when a burger joint plays hard to get. Rocky’s Burger Bus has been a Calgary staple for years. I grew up on stories from my friend Emily about her special trips to the burger bus, a magical place where you got your hamburgers served from a BUS! Can such a place exist? As mentioned in my first burger adventure, Rocky’s Burger Bus was meant to be our first stop, but due to summer hours, the bus was out of service when we arrived. But not today!
It was a warm, breezy day when I picked up Leah to begin our adventure. Just hot enough that I waffled about putting on my hamburger pants, but tradition prevailed. Setting out in my trust Corolla Carlos, we headed to the fabled bus. If you’re looking to get to Rocky’s Burger Bus, click here. It’s located in the southeast industrial park, near Century Casino. A bit of a drive for us Northwesters, but it was worth it to see if the stories were true. Leah and I rolled up into a dirt parking lot and parked by a nearby farmer’s market. The farmer’s market might prove useful after a heavy meal of meat and potatoes from Rocky’s and you look for the sweet relief of a light, fruit snack.
We had missed the lunch rush, nevertheless, the line of customers was steady behind us. We surveyed a limited menu (although this is a plus in Leah and my opinions, stick to what you’re good at) and we selected a bacon cheeseburger each, and a side. Mine was poutine, and Leah selected onion rings. We put in our order at the first passenger window of the bus, where we paid and got our order numbers. On my way down the bus, I caught a glimpse of the grill, and burger fans, what a sight! Imagine patties the size of softballs grilling, and watching ladies ladle gravy by the heaping spoonful onto giant portions of poutine. Not a single centimeter of kitchen space was wasted. I felt like one of those tourists who takes pictures of everything as I snapped pictures of the burgers. By the time I had worked my way to the end of the bus, my food was ready! The ladies that were serving us were very nice French people, who pronounced poutine the French way, more of a “poo-ts-een”, so you KNEW it was going to be good. Leah and I grabbed our lunches and condiments, and headed up to the picnic area.
I must congratulate the Burger Bus on their choice of location. There you are, perched high up on a hill, amid the tall grass and sunshine, surveying your own little burger kingdom with the other patrons. It’s close enough to the bus for convenient access to condiments and napkins, but far enough away, there’s a real picnic feel about the meal experience. The only unfortunate thing about the location was that we were situated directly downwind from a dumpster, which puts a little damper on your burger experience when the wind picks up. Now that the setting has been fully described…who’s hungry?
Leah and I carefully unpacked our meals, taking time to carefully place the sides between us (don’t you hate it when someone places sides closer to them and not equidistant from the rest of the group? *pet peeve*) Upon opening our bacon cheeseburgers, we caught our first glimpse of the massive portions that Rocky’s is famous for. Check out the pie chart below for a break down of a bacon cheeseburger at Rocky’s. You will notice that the meat is the primary focus of the burger. There’s a good chance that the meat took a good 60% of the burger. I am a big condiments fan, and I would have appreciated a larger percentage of condiments present. However, Leah was a fan of the lack of condiments, saying that she liked how the focus was on the meat.
The meat. This topic deserves a paragraph of its own. The hamburgers reminded me a lot of the hamburgers that my mom used to make for summer barbecues. Don’t you remember trying to unhinge your jaw and take a bite of your burger, getting all the layers at once? That is what this burger reminded me of. This was some high quality chuck that the Burger Bus was serving up. But if you consult the graph, I will quickly reiterate, I wish there had been more equality amongst the layers, as after a while, there was a not a lot of variety in flavour as I ate the burger. But I must compliment the Burger Bus on its ability to cook a thick burger all the way through without drying out the burger. Kudos.
On to the sides! As Leah and I were both fans of poutine and onion rings, both were present. They gave us onion rings straight from the fryer and they were hot and crispy, a noticeable level higher in quality than the onion rings we had enjoyed at the Burger Inn. Personally, I prefer the onion rings with a more crumbly texture (like A&W rings), and these had been dipped in a smooth batter. No matter, they were delicious, and upon giving the rings a few minutes to cool, they crisped up nicely and were a great way to break up the burger.
Regarding the poutine, there was some pre-meal debate on the ride over on the mark of a good poutine, and we both agreed that there must be a good fry/gravy/cheese ratio. Leah also brought up the interesting concept that it would be nice if people could “layer” the poutine, with alternating strata of cheese and gravy, to avoid the dreaded “dry fries” at the bottom of one’s poutine. We agreed that one should always strive for cheese, gravy and fries in every bite of poutine. And the Burger Bus did NOT disappoint. Only the French could have constructed a poutine as delightful as they did. They layered the poutine and there was plenty of cheese, gravy and fries to be had. GREAT value for one’s dollar.
Here are our final notes on our Burger Bus experience:
Leah: Delicious, would make a return trip. It currently has her vote for Best Burger in Calgary. Likes the limited menu. Would recommend sharing a side between two people to avoid the “sick full” feeling. Preferred eating the sides vs. the burger. If she made a return trip, she would order only sides. Burger was actually too big. Like the convenient location of the nearby fruit stand for a healthy, guilt-saving option “post burger”. Picnic tables were downwind from bathroom and dumpster…not ideal.
Me: Good value for one’s dollar. Next time would share a side and add a milkshake. Would like more condiments on the burger. No point in ordering bacon and cheese on the burger if you can’t even taste it. Like the picnic tables as a convenient place to enjoy lunch “en plein air”, but would agree with Leah that the location needs to be moved away from the dumpster for a more enjoyable experience.
Next on my list, is to find the Charcut food truck, which will be serving delicious portions of their famous alley burger, not to mention a very interesting “build your own burger” option. It’s always on the move, so I liken it to either chasing down a dangerous (and delicious) criminal, or hunting a very rare and exotic animal. Got suggestions of where to dine? Comment below and let me hear it! Want to be part of Hamburger Pants? Tweet me @AmyWootang or use #hamburgerpants and send me a message!
Stay hungry my friends!