Help Me Choose the Best Burger Joint in Des Moines

I’m crying “uncle.” I’m breaking my cheeseburger fast next week. Why this premediated act of weakness? Because I’m going to Des Moines.

It’s been awhile since I was in Des Moines. I got snowed in waiting in vain for Vice President Al Gore to arrive. He was supposed to unveil a brand new Internet initiative that was a partnership between MCI and the public library system. I was managing the check presentation event. It was a long, tedious day of standing around watching the snow storm roll across the plains. My companions were a few frustrated MCI staff, and a clatch of humorless Secret Service personnel. With no sign of Mr. Gore by nightfall, we packed it in. A local person invited us to thaw out in a restaurant. I remember asking the waitress to recommend something. “Steak, honey, have the steak. You’re in Iowa. Best beef you’ll ever have!” She was right.

This time I am going to Des Moines as part of the RenGen on the Road lecture series, sponsored by MetLife.Tuesday, June 3, I will be speaking at 9:30AM at the Iowa State Historical Building. Drop by. It’s a FREE lecture!

Now, where to do the deed? I mean, if I’m going to succumb, it’d better be a mind-blowingly good burger. I asked around and below are the options. Can you help me choose? Anyone out there been to any of these establishments? Cast your vote. I’ve got one shot at this. Then it’s back on the wagon.

Choices so far:

Michael Morain, arts reporter for the DesMoines Register votes for the Drake Diner Maytag Burger

His colleague, food writer Tom Perry, seconds this choice. As did a “secret burger guru” who wishes to remain anonymous.
My buddy Joe Butcher likes Be-Bop Drive-in.
My host in Des Moines, Mary Sundet Jones points me to an “under-the-radar burger served up at the Olympic Flame. She advises the grilled onions and “over-cooked” fries to round it out. She also likes Jesse’s Embers.

Des Moines radio personality John Busbee feels an entire burger tour is required to do this research right. That means hitting spots he likes such as Little Steamers in Garnavillo and the Gunder Burger in Gunder. But he tips his hat to the Maytag Burger, as well.

Okay, any votes out there? Iowans let’s hear from you!

photo courtesy of Memm74 at Flickr