Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena, California

I don’t think I appreciate where I live enough. It’s one thing to live in San Francisco and be constantly reminded of its coolness. It’s another thing to live about an hour north, in the center of Sonoma County, away from (but within reach of) the city’s hustle and bustle, a stone’s throw from Napa, minutes from the ocean, with access to some of the best food on earth. It’s almost a damn shame that I haven’t made it out to the French Laundry in Yountville yet. I mean c’mon it’s only an hour away.

How did I get so lucky?

Such as it’s been since last October when I first stumbled across a newspaper review (and later a blog) that said Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena has the best burger you can get. Anywhere. Period. St. Helena? Geez that’s like 40 minutes away, right over the mountains. I’m so there. Seven months passed before I finally made it out last Monday.

After our 10 mile hike up (and down) Mt. St. Helena, Stephanie and I felt that eating the best burger available was probably just what we needed. So we drove down highway 29/128 to the town of Saint Helena and stopped in at Taylor’s to see what all the fuss was about. First off, it’s pretty durn cute. No indoor seating, just a glassed in, well-lit service counter.

Taylor's Refresher in St. Helena, CA

Second thing that told me this place was special: their menu was seasonal! Printed out on landscape paper with just the faintest touch of design. There was quite a selection, but after scanning all the options, Stephanie and I both independently chose the classic: a bacon cheeseburger, with

American cheese & bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles & secret sauce on a toasted egg bun. 7.99

as well as a side of fries to share. I ordered a pint of beer from their list of 8 or so draught microbrews, and Stephanie had a glass of wine. Yeah, burger joint with no indoor seating and a decent beer and wine list. Nice. Doing a little searching around online, it turns out that Taylor’s is owned by winemaker Joel Gott, which helps explain why it’s so good. Anyway, on to the burger.

First, a picture.

A bacon cheeseburger from Taylor's Refresher

Need I say more? This burger was big. But not in an obscene, Hardees Thickburger™ kind of way. Between the crispy lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, thick cut bacon and a substantial hamburger patty, I felt like I had to dislocate my jaw to get it around the thing. Which was awesome. The special sauce was creamy white, dotted with herbs, reminded me of a Greek tzatziki sauce like we used to get at Hector’s in Chapel Hill. The fries were great.

I’m not sure if it was because of the hike or the size of the burgers, but Stephanie and I (and our fellow hamburger pilgrims) ate in relative (or was it reverent?) silence, save the occasional gasp of gustatory pleasure.

· Food