Sandie Wernick: Darla’s Darn Good Burgers
This tiny restaurant on Irving Street near Ninth Avenue brags that they make "possibly the best burger around." I'm not sure it's the best burger, but they are sure darned good.
Everything that I had ordered during three separate visits tasted fresh and homemade, with none of the ingredients seeming to come out of a can or a freezer. The burgers are thick and juicy and, in my case, definitely medium rare, as ordered.
Darla's uses 1/3-pound of premium ground beef, which is served on a French roll. Accompanying the burger is a choice of fries, soup, a small green salad or homemade potato salad. I had the fries and they were delicious.
My sister had the potato salad and loved it. The prices are decent as well, considering all that you get. Hamburgers are $5.95 for a single, and $7.50 for a double. Cheeseburgers are $6.50 for a single and $8.50 for a double. Patrons can also get burgers with nearly any combination of add-ons you can think of, including bacon, cheddar, mushrooms, Swiss and jack cheeses, green chilies and turkey.
For vegetarians, there's the Garden Veggie and Portobello Veggie, and for folks with a big appetite, the House Burger is slathered with grilled onions, mushrooms, bacon and mozzarella cheese. Prices range from $6.95 to $8.25.
Darla's also serves a good selection of fresh salads. One I particularly liked is the Charbroiled Chicken Salad, which has large chicken pieces, cheddar cheese and veggies ($7.50). Another terrific salad is the Caesar, with romaine lettuce, homemade smoked Caesar dressing and fresh croutons ($6.25). I added some charbroiled chicken to my Caesar, which brought the cost up to $7.95. It was worth it.
Everything was incredibly tasty and extremely fresh and the portions were generous. The menu also includes a section called "Sammies" which feature hot and cold sandwiches. On one visit, I tried the Roast Beef Club. I specifically asked for rare roast beef and I got a thick stack of it with bacon, lettuce and tomato. It was a bargain for $6.95.
My sister had the Boston Clam Chowder (with garlic bread, $4.95) and savored it to the last drop.
What I found delightful is that Darla's makes fresh milk shakes, just like the kind I had as a kid, which were thick and creamy with lots of chocolate sauce. I do not have them very often, but every once in a while, on a low calorie day, I will order a chocolate shake ($3.50) and feel guilty the rest of the day. However, the guilt is worth it because Darla's' shakes are terrific. Wine and beer are also on the menu.
Darla's serves breakfast all day, with a varied omelette menu and other dishes (served with home fries and toast), including the standard breakfast fare. If I had a quibble, it would be the chairs. I found them uncomfortable for the long haul. The decor is simple and does not distract from the food. On pleasant days, there is outside seating. Lunch and dinner specials are offered each day and there is a children's menu available.
This is a family-friendly place, so expect to share the tiny space with kids. There is a full take-out menu. This is really a very good little restaurant. There wasn't anything I tried that I did not like or love.
822 Irving St., at Ninth Avenue
Open: Monday through Friday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday: 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
For more information, call (415) 753-3275.
Sandie Wernick has been a marketing, public relations and advertising executive for 25 years (Wernick Marketing Group), specializing in restaurants, hotels and travel. She has "written a million press releases" and is delighted to "finally write about food from the other side of the fence."