Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Aug. 28
The Tacoburger: Part Six
Tracking the origin of the most famous tacoburgers of all time at Danny's Palm Bar in Coronado.
There’s this taco shop in North Park. El Sol, it’s called. Ed Bedford wrote a Tin Fork in which he told the compelling story of Nacho, the restaurant’s owner. If Bedford’s to be believed, Nacho is one of the most legendary burger cooks around. He used to work at Danny’s Palm Bar (965 Orange Avenue) in Coronado, and his burgers were the stuff of legends to the SEALS, their groupies, and the errant tourists who frequented the place. At some point in the roaring Nineties, then-President William Jefferson Clinton caught wind of Nacho’s expertise, which spawned a Presidential love affair with what just might be the most famous tacoburgers in the world.
Though Nacho’s long gone, Danny’s still sells plenty of “slamburgers,” as they’re called. Is it fair to lump Danny’s burgers in with the tacoburgers? Absolutely. Take a seat in one of the dingy booths at the back of the restaurant and see what hits the table first.
Yeah, that’s right. Tortilla chips and some spicy salsa. The umbra of taco shop culture infiltrates even the most all-American institutions. Every bite of “frings” (fries and onion rings) tastes like tortilla chips and fish tacos, as though the taco shop staples left something of themselves behind in the fryer, which, chemically speaking, they did.
Starting at plain, old quarter-pounders for $7.50, the slamburgers get wildly expensive, to the tune of $15 for a one-pound specialty burger. That’s a lot of beef, but still! $15 without fries?
Expenses aside, Danny’s burgers have unique qualities. Initially juicy, eventually dry, they start better than they finish. Perhaps the overzealousness of meat weighs the burger down. Perhaps the sour smell of old beer lingering around the bar taints the eating process. Maybe it’s the pictures of men with guns. Whatever the reason, something is off at Danny’s. Maybe it’s the absence of Nacho, the man who lived a tacoburger dream. After all, Danny’ slamburgers became famous at the hands of a man who dreamed of nothing more than owning his own taco shop.