I've never made this a secret: The Original Tommy's cheeseburger, with it's decadent chili, is my all-time favorite burger. So what is an Arizona resident to do, when the nearest Tommy's outlet is 318 miles away in Henderson, NV? Improvise. First, it should be known that Tommy's will ship its chili to your door. But that's by the gallon, and I have no place to store that much chili. So on a recent trip to San Diego, I bought a pint to-go and kept it in my cooler on the drive back home, where I then froze it in ready-to-heat individual serving ZipLoc bags.
Next up, the burger. Thinking long and hard about what it is I like about Tommy's, sans chili, lead me to conclude that the chain that most closely honors the spirit and the flavor of my beloved burger is Five Guys.
I ordered the Little Cheeseburger with chopped onions, mustard, tomato, pickles, and took a little artistic license by adding lettuce (Tommy's doesn't serve lettuce on their standard burgers.) The flavor of each item is about right, except for the pickles. Five Guys' pickles are sweeter than Tommy's.
At home, my wife and I heated up a couple packets of chili and plopped it onto the burger. Voila!
The taste was fantastic. The mustard was right. The meat was right. The cheese was close. The pickles, not so much but still not bad. If I did it again, I would not add lettuce. That experiment didn't add anything to the experience.
With the extra chili that didn't fit onto the burger (can't waste any) we dumped some fries into the cardboard boat Five Guys gives out with their peanuts, poured chili on top, added a Kraft American Single, and applied heat for the melted look.
Now if this seems like a long way to go for this experience, you might be right. This isn't something I can do every week. But when that craving hits me, and until Tommy's finally gets to Arizona, this will keep me going.