Living the High Life at Tangier

Burger Breakdown

Tangier - Map It!
$8.00
Cheese, bacon, grilled onions, tomato, lettuce.
Included, thick-cut, batter dipped.
3.5/10

Tangier is a midsize city in north Morocco, famous for its light, its spices and its international flair. Tangier is also a bar in on 18th street that shares little in common with the north African city, aside for the likelihood that you will pay too much for something bizarre. We'd been tipped off that Tangier had an ostrich burger, and were excited to expand the horizons of Burgerdelphia by eating another new animal. As is becoming the trend, we found the online menu, in addition to sporting a slick Geocities-inspired style, made no mention of the sandwich. A quick call to see if they serve ostrich (which was met with, "Uh... yeah. Why?") and we were on our way.

Tangier looks like Rick's from Casablanca, if Rick was from south Philly and the closest he ever came to Morocco was watching The Mummy Returns. A pseudo-Mediterranean chic haunts the old place, but it seems like everyone would prefer if you didn't mention it. It's hard to tell how the decor came about; either someone attempted to slap some vintage posters and broken camel statues into an old Irish pub, or they awkwardly hung some LCD TVs in an colonial Africa-themed restaurant. The result is like seeing someone complete their life's work, if their life's work was to do the least worthwhile thing possible.

Of all the burger joints, in all the towns, in all the world, this is one of them.The Classic burger at Tangier (listed on the menu under their "Soon-to-be-famous burgers" header) comes on a kaiser roll with your standard lettuce, tomato and choice of cheese (American, provolone, bleu cheese, cheddar, Swiss or feta). What threw us for a bit of a loop were the meat options: you can choose from an 8 oz. beef or turkey patty, or for a dollar more, ostrich or buffalo. Now, this bar was suggested to us as having an excellent ostrich burger, but it's damn hard to pass up buffalo, so Laurence and I opted to get one of each and split them. Yes, we also ordered one soda with two straws and he agreed to go to the homecoming dance with me. It was all very romantic.

In theory, there is buffalo meat somewhere in there.

Kyle: Presentation is important. If a chef puts something on a burger, I eat it (except mushrooms; I had a bad experience). Flavor decisions are deliberate, and I endeavor to experience a meal as the chef intended. As a result, I order my burgers exactly as they appear, generally adding and subtracting nothing. But this time, something told me to throw some bacon and fried onions on the buffalo burger.

It was a good thing I did, since the bacon was the only flavorful part of the sandwich. The meat was was extremely tough and chewy, and somehow managed to be simultaneously medium (to request) and completely overcooked, with a crunchy exterior. It isn't hard to see how this happened: both burgers were as thin as fast-food burgers, and could only pass as 8 oz. through bad metric conversions and magical realism. The patties weren't helped by the fact that the store-bought kaiser rolls dwarfed them. The buffalo had a dry, smoky flavor, but that seems to have come more from the onions, Swiss and bacon. The burger itself wasn't bad, just thoroughly plain, to the point where I wouldn't have known it was made of gamier buffalo meat based on taste alone.

The ostrich burger didn't fare any better. Chewy, tough and bland, like overcooked ground turkey. The texture was interesting; it alternated between being extremely fine and having large chunks of muscle coming out awkwardly with every bite. The meat was dry and the uniform color of burnt wallpaper paste. Everything bland about the buffalo burger is amplified here.

"Bland" really is the best description of the meal. The burgers weren't bad, but were so nondescript that I'm having a difficult time remembering the flavors. The fries were the only decent aspect of the dinner. Thick-cut steak fries, fried in what will surely be a contributing factor in my upcoming heart attack. Crunchy, greasy and salty, although hollow on the inside, presumably from spending too much time in the frier. Of the two burgers, I'd have to say the buffalo burger was slightly better, although it had the unfair advantage of bacon. Bacon is the burger equivalent of a performance-enhancing drug, so I'm going to judge the buffalo burger without it, giving both the same score. Rating: 3/10.

The fabled ostrich burger.

Laurence: Let's start with the ostrich. I've had ostrich before as a steak and was very pleased with it. It's a meaty bird, closer in taste and texture to beef than it is to poultry but still a flavor of its own. We ordered it medium to best get a sense of the flavors which we assumed would be subtle. It was cooked to order but had a taste approximating that of turkey, and was ground to more of a pulp than to general burger consistency. The tomato served with it had a taste as strong as water. Frankly the best part was the bun which was very crispy and fresh.

The buffalo was clearly the better burger, but once again for a meat as flavorful as buffalo I was disappointed. The patty, though cooked medium as requested, was thin and seemed overwhelmed by the thick bun. The Swiss cheese on it blended well with the onions and bacon. But here I'd say the bacon was the best part. Both burgers were served with a healthy quantity of fries but they weren't particularly notable either.

My favorite part of the meal occurred just after we finished eating, and inquired about the “mystery beer” listed as one of the drink specials. “It's a $3 bottle of beer in a brown paper bag,” the waitress informed us with the voice of lifelong smoker, she paused then continued, “You can't return it.” It seemed like a gamble but we were feeling lucky. I tasted the beer and knew instantly I'd lost. I didn't have to open the bag to know, contrary to the label, at Tangier, I wasn't living the high life. Rating: 4/10.

Verdict: 

Contrary to the tone of the review, neither of us hated Tangier. It seems like it would be a nice local bar if you lived in the area, and could make for a decent happy-hour hangout. It's a no-frills kind of place which we both enjoy, but if you're on a mission like ours, it isn't worth a stop.

3.5
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