Don Bauder 3 p.m., Nov. 23
The Last Hamburger in America
The seal was probably attacked by a shark. There’s not much left of him.
Nearby, a seagull climbs vertically like a helicopter to 30 feet and drops a clam.
It splits on the hard sand.
Beyond, three actual helicopters circle, practicing take-off and landing from Ream Field.
And between, you’ve got a huge marshy savannah they call the Tijuana River sloughs.
Yes, folks, we're at the End of the Known World.
It’s also the location of the Last Restaurant in America.
And of good $3 tacos and (my opinion) maybe the best sourdough burger west of the Rockies. (OK, let’s say the best sourdough burger I’ve had all year.)
It’s the I.B. Forum at 1079 Seacoast Drive, Imperial Beach (at Imperial Beach Boulevard, just this side of the sloughs, 619-429-7507).
Friday nights, IBethans come here in droves for their All-U-Can Eat fish fry ($13).
IBethan regulars gather for lunch
Me, I’d hopped off the 934 bus just to take a run up that beautiful beach and watch the dolphins cavorting off the shore. Plus birds circling over a boiling circle of fish – anchovies I bet – who were freaking out, what with the dolphins and all.
That fresh air does you a power of good, body and mind, and sure tangs up your hunger buds.
So you come off the beach and just north of those vast sloughs is the Forum, and Sharon, running round taking orders from the lunch crowd. And it is a crowd.
The place has a big eating area, a dark bar area, a place where you can grill your own steaks, and an outside patio with a fire ring.
Sharon mentions they have their lunch special, a half-pound burger or chicken with fries and a Bud, or soda for just under $8. Or? The “gut-buster,” a one pound burger for $10.
But as soon as I see the sourdough burger ($8), with bacon and ranch, that’s it.
It’s more of a sandwich than a boiger, but the sourdough just gives it its kick.
Big group chowing down in the main eatin’ area say they’ve been coming for years. Sharon says she’s been working here 14 years, Benji the cook’s been at it 9 years.
Sharon and Benji
“It’s IB, family,” says Sharon. “April and Matt Morgan are the owners. Mother and son. Will be celebrating 20 years running this place next July.”
Very IB. I swear, this is one of the most settled communities on the coast. And still, kinda forgotten. Our own Shangri-La.
The sourdough burger?
Benji gets my burger together...
...hands it to Sharon. Time to eat!
It’s good. Moist, crispy outside, and more than a boy should take on in the middle of the day.
Dang, with a beer… but this afternoon I’m a working stiff.
Still, there’s always next time.
Maybe Friday night.
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