Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published December 6th 2011
On 60 St Georges Road – up the other end from the Moroccan Soup Bar, that is – sits Danny's Burgers, an unassuming little place that might just offer the best burgers in Melbourne. That's a steep claim, considering the wealth of other burger joints in this city: Grill'd, Andrew's and Urban Burger, for instance, not to mention the many pop-up cafes that appear on weekends and Friday nights. Still, there it is, and judging by the continuous stream of regulars, many Melbournites would agree.
Danny's Burgers is probably as unpretentious a diner as you'll ever see. From the workmanlike name – it's a guy called Danny who owns a burger joint – to the cramped, bar-stool interior, nothing about this place seems forced. The servers are matter-of-fact without being fashionably rude, and the Australian flag makes an occasional appearance by the counter. Have you ever seen a pretentious cafe with an Australian flag as part of the decor? Of course you haven't. The only concession Danny's Burgers makes to the raggedy-hipster section of its patrons is a series of fifties-era posters along the back wall – which, given that Danny's was established in 1955, might not be an affectation at all.
This is how it works: you go in, pushing past the legions of hungry people on your way to the counter. Trying not to look at the suspicious bearded man in the corner with the crazy eyes, you mumble your order – steak sandwich with chips, please – to a bored-looking man who yells at you to speak up. He gives you a piece of paper with a number on it, and you wait until your food's ready. Don't hear your number when it's called? Heaven help you, then, since the staff at Danny's Burgers will brook no delay. If you're lucky, they'll leave your sandwich on the counter where you can shamefacedly pick it up later on.
It's worth it, though. The burgers and sandwiches are cheap – around seven dollars each – and very old school. The steak in the sandwiches, for instance, is more than a millimetre thick, and the beef patties are always juicy. By some black magic the buns are rarely soggy, and even the sandwiches only get soggy a little around the edges. Biting into a mouthful of egg, beef and bacon, it's easy to believe that Danny's Burgers is a Melbourne institution. What about the vegetarians? In a nod to those people, Danny's Burgers offers a vegetarian burger with egg and salad – basically the standard burger without any of the meat. It's only four dollars fifty, though (five dollars if you add another egg.) What about the vegans? They can eat salad.
Danny's Burgers will satisfy your cravings late into the night, closing at 2am even on weeknights. Expect the staff to become even less polite as the night goes on – if you desperately want your burger cut in two, arrive before 11pm or just bring your own knife. Danny's Burgers is a leftover from a better time: a time when greasy spoons cared about the quality of their food, and when people understood the proper ratio of meat-to-salad in a sandwich. Melbourne needs more places like this. When late-night burger fiends or drunken revellers are forced into places like McDonalds or Burger King, we all suffer.
To the author, I work at Danny's burgers and have for over a year, I agree with you when you say some of the staff there have short tempers and especially later at night, after a long 15 hour shift who wouldn't get a little bit temperamental. Next time you publish an "article" ensure your facts are correct. Thought that was a number one rule when creating an opinion piece? We have customers who love us and are there every week sometimes even more. For the small minority who dislike Danny's and is staff, well...I say each to their own.
Actually, elain54, I loved Danny's Burgers and plan to go back! The brusque staff are part of the charm, and I thought I expressed that in the article. If I gave the wrong impression, I apologize - just trying to warn people who might be expecting cafe-style service.
Hello, actually (as a frequent local visitir to Danny's) I think it was established in 1945, not 1955. I could be wrong, but if not it adds something even more to the establishment and I certainly like the thought.
Hello, actually (as a frequent local visitor to Danny's) I think it was established in 1945, not 1955. I could be wrong, but if not it adds something even more to the establishment and I certainly like the thought.