1246 Massachusetts Avenue
Subway: Harvard Station
Bus: MBTA 1, 68, 69
Visit: April 18, 2014
This year, I’ve had the chance to tackle my half completed burger bucket list in Philadelphia. When I think back to my first trip to the Boston area in 2013, there was one place that I was so close to trying, but it just wasn’t to be. This time around, I was more than thrilled to get the chance to sit down at Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage in Cambridge.
In 2013, I was really thankful to get the opportunity to travel to Boston for the very first time. During that trip, we got to tour the campus of one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Harvard. At the tail end of that stop, we had a little bit of shopping time in Harvard Square. At that moment, it was too early in the morning and all I could do was stare at the empty restaurant. I came to find out later that it was actually closed for Memorial Day weekend, so I never stood a chance.
Now that we fast forward to 2014 and the second day of our trip to Boston, we made our way for a tour of Boston. The weather was beautiful and the upcoming free time in Harvard Square was something I was salivating over. Even though I had a few backup restaurants in mind, my heart was set on Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage.
Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage has been dubbed as one of the best burgers in the entire United States. With credentials like that, who can turn down that opportunity? There burgers are so famous that they have been featured in so many television programs and specials that one can’t help but take notice. What’s a search for great burgers without including the possible champions?
On this particular afternoon, I was accompanied by two of my students, who happened to be some of the most loyal followers I’ve had over the last 5 years. It’s funny to note, but there were other students who made their way to Shake Shack, which just happens to be in the same neighborhood. This just goes to show you that the burger competition near Harvard is intense and that I could probably do an entire year’s worth right there.
One of the main concerns I had going into this visit was having to wait. On a busy day, the lines go out the door and well onto Massachusetts street. You could probably finish reading an entire book from the Harvard book store and the line wouldn’t move. Well, this must have been a sign of good luck, because when we got there, no line was to be found. We were even seated right away. That took a load off my mind right there.
The dining room at Mr. Bartley’s is fully decorated with all sorts of items from across Boston. Some of the most famous celebrities have eaten here and that’s impressive in itself. We were seated at a communal table at the center of it all. There are also a lot of smaller tables surrounding that communal table. In plain sight, there’s the grill, where the well oiled machine was churning out burgers at an impressive rate.
The service was also top notch. The servers knew how to make you feel at home, even if you were one of many. The questions were on the mark and the order taking process was simple. One of the things that impressed me was the fact that, even though it was really busy, the server told the other customers to take their time. That’s the kind of interaction that makes a place special.
Speaking of special, people come to Mr. Bartley’s for their burgers, plain and simple. The variety of burgers are just incredible and what’s even better is the fact that they are named after society’s most infamous names. From Justin Bieber to Viagra, you can bet there’s a burger named after it.
Before getting to the burger, I just have to share the following. The servers, when putting an order in, would shout it to the cook staff. Well, I can’t tell you how much I smiled when I heard one server ask for a mac & cheese meal with a side of mac & cheese. It was an incredible experience.
Hashtag Burger ($13.25)
This burger contains Boursin cheese and bacon.
Choosing a burger was not easy. Like I said before, there are so many choices and choosing one is like picking which child you like the most. Well, this particular burger, The Hashtag, appealed to me because of the cheese. Now, I’ll leave any hashtag jokes to your own imagination because there are plenty. But, the Boursin is what puts this over the top. While it’s a brand of cheese, the creamy feature is exactly what I like on a burger.
Like most of my other American burgers, the burger showed up to the table at the requested temperature. One bite in, you knew exactly that you were eating something special. The juices leaked and each bite of that burger was magical. There’s not really more to say about the meat, which happens to be ground in house daily.
As much as I was going gaga over the meat, the Boursin cheese is what puts it over the top. The Boursin, which is just like cream cheese, goes so well in combination with that meat and bacon. It might be a little bit messy, but it makes the burger exciting to eat.
After clearing the burger and the really good sweet potato fries, I was happy with the experience at Mr. Bartley’s. It was one of the first burgers to be placed on my burger bucket list and one that lived up to the hype I gave it. It might not meet the standards of others, but it met mine on that day.
If you’re ever in the Harvard Square area of Cambridge, you cannot go past Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage. For over 50 years, it has been the benchmark for burgers, much like Harvard is the benchmark for education. The food and service was met with much satisfaction by our entire group and for that, it was awesome.