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Burger uber allies

Email|Print| Text size + By Sheryl Julian
November 23, 2006

The motto here is "Above all burgers," as in the German word "uber." But in its spot at Boston University, you could also spell it U Burger. For that matter, You Burger also fits the bill.

In any case, Uburger is poised to become the campus hangout. It exudes confidence. But it's a sureness that doesn't come with arrogance and makes you excited about the place. You won't be disappointed. These are great burgers and incredible fries at unbeatable prices. Uburger is onto something obvious but hardly done: take the junk out of fast food.

Owners Nick Kesaris, 30, and Spiro Kouvlis, 29, boyhood friends from North Quincy, traveled a lot after college. They really liked In-N-Out Burger in LA, Portillo's in Chicago, and Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries in Washington, D.C. "Why doesn't Boston have anything like that?" they asked themselves, and so Uburger began.

The concept is simple: Make the burgers and hot dogs everyone loves using the best ingredients. Beef for the quarter-pound patties ($3.95-$4.75) is chuck and sirloin ground in-house. Fries ($1.75) are all Idahos, cut in this kitchen and cooked in 100 percent vegetable oil. Same for onion rings ($2.25). Because the beef patties are cooked on a flat griddle, they don't have the slightly caramelized edges of a char-grilled burger, but the texture is tender and the meat well flavored. On their buttered and griddled buns, in fact, the burgers are pretty divine. The long, slender, very crisp fries are delectable, and the rings luscious and crunchy in a light batter.

Uburger's design is cheap and industrial. Walls are covered with corrugated galvanized steel (the kind you see on chicken houses and barns in the South), chairs are aluminum, and there's a motif of painted red rounds in the ceiling, which say things like "Handcut fries and onion rings cooked in zero trans fat oil." Kesaris and Kouvlis also want you to know that there are no microwaves or heat lamps on the premises. The only thing in the freezer is ice cream for thick, stupendous frappes made with ice cream from Richardson's in Middleton.

You can get a boom burger (chipotle sauce, cheddar, and fried jalape±os), yuppie (Swiss and bacon), or a cowboy (BBQ sauce, Jack cheese, bacon). The eggy rolls have been buttered and grilled, which only add to the goodness. A plump Kayem all-beef dog ($2) comes in a grilled top-loading bun. Marinated grilled-chicken sandwiches ($4.50-$4.75) turn out moist breast meat with an array of cheeses or sauces.

Kesaris went to BU, Kouvlis to UMass, and shortly afterward they bought the Clam Box, a seasonal place on Wollaston Beach, from Kesaris's father and uncles. The new entrepreneurs ran it for six years, and "it went well," says Kesaris. Then they bought the Tap in Faneuil Hall, but, "We weren't too crazy about the alcohol business," he says. So they turned their attention to the Uburger idea. A Brazilian restaurant in the Kenmore Square space was selling, and the two men bought everything, sold it all at auction, and began again.

They're working seven days a week and don't seem a bit intimidated by the grueling hours a venture like this can take. Says Kesaris: "A lot of people open and put a manager in and fill it up with employees. For us, it's a long process. Even when we do get a manager in place, one of us will still be here."

Adds Kouvlis: "If it works out, we'll open a second spot. Four or five sounds really good."

We should be so lucky.


Cuisine: American

Address: 636 Beacon St, Boston (Kenmore Sq.)

Phone: 617-617-0448

Hours: Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun noon-11 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving Day.

Prices: $2-$6.50.

May We Suggest: Salad Garden salad.
Entree Boom burger, yuppie burger, grilled hot dog, french fries, onion rings, cool chick.
Dessert Black and white frappe.

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