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I’m hemorrhaging mayonnaise

“Boy, hero to zero in five minutes flat.”

My giant burger. Two-and-a-half pounds of gut-busting challenge
My giant burger. Two-and-a-half pounds of gut-busting challenge
Place

Nicky Rottens Bar & Burger Joint

3773 Willow Glen Drive, El Cajon

‘Eat! Eat! Eat!” yells this guy down the bar.

One or two others join in. Everybody else laughs and sits there looking, waiting for me to take my first bite.

Me, I’m looking long and hard at this thirty-buck burger, this challenge to my gastro-manhood. It’s so big my Bud Light looks like a kiddy-sized soda-pop.

My burger: This is one giant bite for man, one suicidal mission for mankind

To look through the windows, we’re kinda out in the boonies here. Trees and dry pastures and beyond them, drought-stressed hills. It’s Nicky Rotten’s outpost on the edge of Rancho San Diego. Place is a palace with a porte-cochère for dropping granny off at the main door before you go park.

You walk through the cavernous entrance and into a space with tables, a long gallery, and a curvy bar. I sit me down at one end and get a menu and a Bud Light for $3. Hey hey. Just made happy hour (3-6, Monday to Friday). The bar guy, Thor, leaves me with a menu. I mean, name of the game is boigers. I’ve already tried one of their “stinky” burgers (“da one thata smells like Nana Tutu’s feet,” says the menu) the other day (not so cheap at $14.95, but extra lush with good chunky bacon and, specially, gobs of strong bleu cheese).

And they have quite a range of choices. All of them $14.95. Like the “Bacavo” (bacon and avo), the chili “chooch” burger, the “Maui Wowi pineapple burger, a pastrami burger, on and on. But gotta say, the one that catches my eye is the black and red sign at the bottom. “Da Ultimate Burga Challenge! $27.95. You have one hour to clean your plate. If you finish in 30 minutes, we’ll buy it for you! This friggin’ huge burger weighs in at 2-1/2 pounds, leaving grown men crying for mercy!”

It comes with 2 lbs beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and Rotten sauce, all in a super-size bun, with fries on the side. “No substitutions. Don’t even ask!”

Raspberries all round: (from left) Roberta, Denise, Mona (with burger remains), Dana, Laura, Cathann

It promises you immortality with your name, city and state “forever engraved in the world’s #1 burger joint,” plus a free tee shirt. But a warning: “Remember, there is a ‘No Upchuck’ rule. Don’t even think about leaving your seat until your plate is clean!”

It’s not the first big-burger challenge I’ve seen, but somehow today I’m feeling just hollow enough that I’m tempted. Besides, I tell myself, this’d be fridge food for weeks, on the rare chance that I don’t win the tee shirt.

But come on, is this crazy? For starters, the cost. At $27.95 for a single burger, it sounds outrageous. Even if you get 2lbs of meat plus a mountain of fries? I make myself slow down to work it out. Lessee. The average burger patty is ¼-lb, right? Hmm. So this is the equivalent of eight burgers. Hey. That’s — drum roll, please — $3.50 per burger! Deal! But okay, maybe they’re half-pound patties. So, four complete burgers. Still only $7 each. Whereas each regular burger here goes for $14.95. Cost, twice as much! So, this will come in at half-price. What’s not to love?

I give Thor the fateful nod.

“Good luck,” he says 20 minutes later, when he brings the monster out. Good God. It miniaturizes my Bud Light. Almost creates its own weather system, it’s so high.

A laugh goes around the bar. I notice a rack of ladies by the window whipping out their phones. “Here, this might help,” says one of them, Mona. She’s raced across and plonked a huge tomato on my plate. “I grew it myself. Far more flavor than store-bought.”

Then she brings out a cookie. “Baked it this morning. Good luck!”

Stinky Burger: standard size, but super stinky-delicious

“Eat! Eat! Eat!” yells the guy down the bar.

Two and a half pounds, when you’re trying to hoist it to your mouth, is like lifting a dumbbell. Specially when you’re trying to stop it squishing out sideways at the same time. I get one bite in with some meat. But when I pull my face back it’s a total mess of cheese, tomato, bread, onion, whatever. I’m going through napkins like I’m hemorrhaging mayonnaise.

About three bites in and I’ve had to drink most of my Bud to slick everything down. And still it just looks like some rat has taken three nibbles out of it.

“Eat! Eat! Eat!”

I can see the fries are going to be the killers. They are pretty herby-delish, but they’re the gift that keeps on giving. And giving. I can feel that tee shirt slipping away. Have to say, the meat has plenty of flavor, and the bun’s nice and crisp. But the room is falling silent. “Come on! You can do it!” yells Mona from where she and her buddies are celebrating the birthday of a lady named Denise.

So, I don’t throw in the towel, but I do grab a knife and cut up half of what’s left (which is like three-quarters, honestly), and then I take the whole pile of remains over to the ladies. “Help me out,” I say. And man, they do.

“He didn’t even get halfway,” says one of the guys in the peanut gallery. Boy, hero to zero in five minutes flat.

“The ones who finish these are all guys, for starters,” says Thor, “and they’re big. It’s a question of capacity.”

Sigh. Consolation is yes, the ladies leave me plenty of leftovers to fry up. That’ll take care of a week’s breakfasts.

I head out into the heat, ready for a forced march down to the 856 stop. Only one this hour. Last run from Cuyamaca College. It’s a half-mile. Good news: that should sweat some of this burger away.

The Place: Nicky Rottens, Rancho San Diego, 3773 Willow Glen Drive, El Cajon, 619-440-4204

Hours: 11:00am – 9pm, daily (till 10pm, Friday, Saturday; Sundays 9am – 9pm)

Prices: Brussels sprouts starter, $9.95 (half off during happy hour); chicken lettuce wraps, $12.95 (half off in HH); tomato soup, $4.95 cup; chili, $5.95 cup; warm spinach salad, $10.95; Thai chicken flatbread, $13.95; burgers, $14.95, including “Bacavo” (bacon and avo), chili “chooch” burger, “Maui Wowi” pineapple burger, pastrami burger; spaghetii alla marinara, $12.95

Buses: 816, 856

Nearest Bus Stop: Jamacha Road and Willow Glen Drive (816); Cuyamaca College Drive and Jamacha Road (856, nb ½-mile walk away)

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My giant burger. Two-and-a-half pounds of gut-busting challenge
My giant burger. Two-and-a-half pounds of gut-busting challenge
Place

Nicky Rottens Bar & Burger Joint

3773 Willow Glen Drive, El Cajon

‘Eat! Eat! Eat!” yells this guy down the bar.

One or two others join in. Everybody else laughs and sits there looking, waiting for me to take my first bite.

Me, I’m looking long and hard at this thirty-buck burger, this challenge to my gastro-manhood. It’s so big my Bud Light looks like a kiddy-sized soda-pop.

My burger: This is one giant bite for man, one suicidal mission for mankind

To look through the windows, we’re kinda out in the boonies here. Trees and dry pastures and beyond them, drought-stressed hills. It’s Nicky Rotten’s outpost on the edge of Rancho San Diego. Place is a palace with a porte-cochère for dropping granny off at the main door before you go park.

You walk through the cavernous entrance and into a space with tables, a long gallery, and a curvy bar. I sit me down at one end and get a menu and a Bud Light for $3. Hey hey. Just made happy hour (3-6, Monday to Friday). The bar guy, Thor, leaves me with a menu. I mean, name of the game is boigers. I’ve already tried one of their “stinky” burgers (“da one thata smells like Nana Tutu’s feet,” says the menu) the other day (not so cheap at $14.95, but extra lush with good chunky bacon and, specially, gobs of strong bleu cheese).

And they have quite a range of choices. All of them $14.95. Like the “Bacavo” (bacon and avo), the chili “chooch” burger, the “Maui Wowi pineapple burger, a pastrami burger, on and on. But gotta say, the one that catches my eye is the black and red sign at the bottom. “Da Ultimate Burga Challenge! $27.95. You have one hour to clean your plate. If you finish in 30 minutes, we’ll buy it for you! This friggin’ huge burger weighs in at 2-1/2 pounds, leaving grown men crying for mercy!”

It comes with 2 lbs beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and Rotten sauce, all in a super-size bun, with fries on the side. “No substitutions. Don’t even ask!”

Raspberries all round: (from left) Roberta, Denise, Mona (with burger remains), Dana, Laura, Cathann

It promises you immortality with your name, city and state “forever engraved in the world’s #1 burger joint,” plus a free tee shirt. But a warning: “Remember, there is a ‘No Upchuck’ rule. Don’t even think about leaving your seat until your plate is clean!”

It’s not the first big-burger challenge I’ve seen, but somehow today I’m feeling just hollow enough that I’m tempted. Besides, I tell myself, this’d be fridge food for weeks, on the rare chance that I don’t win the tee shirt.

But come on, is this crazy? For starters, the cost. At $27.95 for a single burger, it sounds outrageous. Even if you get 2lbs of meat plus a mountain of fries? I make myself slow down to work it out. Lessee. The average burger patty is ¼-lb, right? Hmm. So this is the equivalent of eight burgers. Hey. That’s — drum roll, please — $3.50 per burger! Deal! But okay, maybe they’re half-pound patties. So, four complete burgers. Still only $7 each. Whereas each regular burger here goes for $14.95. Cost, twice as much! So, this will come in at half-price. What’s not to love?

I give Thor the fateful nod.

“Good luck,” he says 20 minutes later, when he brings the monster out. Good God. It miniaturizes my Bud Light. Almost creates its own weather system, it’s so high.

A laugh goes around the bar. I notice a rack of ladies by the window whipping out their phones. “Here, this might help,” says one of them, Mona. She’s raced across and plonked a huge tomato on my plate. “I grew it myself. Far more flavor than store-bought.”

Then she brings out a cookie. “Baked it this morning. Good luck!”

Stinky Burger: standard size, but super stinky-delicious

“Eat! Eat! Eat!” yells the guy down the bar.

Two and a half pounds, when you’re trying to hoist it to your mouth, is like lifting a dumbbell. Specially when you’re trying to stop it squishing out sideways at the same time. I get one bite in with some meat. But when I pull my face back it’s a total mess of cheese, tomato, bread, onion, whatever. I’m going through napkins like I’m hemorrhaging mayonnaise.

About three bites in and I’ve had to drink most of my Bud to slick everything down. And still it just looks like some rat has taken three nibbles out of it.

“Eat! Eat! Eat!”

I can see the fries are going to be the killers. They are pretty herby-delish, but they’re the gift that keeps on giving. And giving. I can feel that tee shirt slipping away. Have to say, the meat has plenty of flavor, and the bun’s nice and crisp. But the room is falling silent. “Come on! You can do it!” yells Mona from where she and her buddies are celebrating the birthday of a lady named Denise.

So, I don’t throw in the towel, but I do grab a knife and cut up half of what’s left (which is like three-quarters, honestly), and then I take the whole pile of remains over to the ladies. “Help me out,” I say. And man, they do.

“He didn’t even get halfway,” says one of the guys in the peanut gallery. Boy, hero to zero in five minutes flat.

“The ones who finish these are all guys, for starters,” says Thor, “and they’re big. It’s a question of capacity.”

Sigh. Consolation is yes, the ladies leave me plenty of leftovers to fry up. That’ll take care of a week’s breakfasts.

I head out into the heat, ready for a forced march down to the 856 stop. Only one this hour. Last run from Cuyamaca College. It’s a half-mile. Good news: that should sweat some of this burger away.

The Place: Nicky Rottens, Rancho San Diego, 3773 Willow Glen Drive, El Cajon, 619-440-4204

Hours: 11:00am – 9pm, daily (till 10pm, Friday, Saturday; Sundays 9am – 9pm)

Prices: Brussels sprouts starter, $9.95 (half off during happy hour); chicken lettuce wraps, $12.95 (half off in HH); tomato soup, $4.95 cup; chili, $5.95 cup; warm spinach salad, $10.95; Thai chicken flatbread, $13.95; burgers, $14.95, including “Bacavo” (bacon and avo), chili “chooch” burger, “Maui Wowi” pineapple burger, pastrami burger; spaghetii alla marinara, $12.95

Buses: 816, 856

Nearest Bus Stop: Jamacha Road and Willow Glen Drive (816); Cuyamaca College Drive and Jamacha Road (856, nb ½-mile walk away)

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Matt Stonie would bankrupt this place.

Sept. 6, 2018

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