There are many so-called "gourmet burger" restaurants in Tokyo, and The Great Burger is one of my favorites.
It is located a bit far from Harajuku, so better take a map with you. Despite of its location, it is always crowded.
I always have Avocado burger. My strongest impression is on the buns ("natural yeast bread"). It makes a perfect combination with the patty and vegetables. I also like this place because they have cherry cokes.
I would visit here again if I feel like having burgers in Harajuku.
Nestled in an enclave away from the hustle and bustle of Meiji-dori, we arrived at this seemingly inviting and upscale burger joint. Inside, the restaurant was near empty on this Saturday just shortly after noontime. We were directed to a small table, right next to some other patrons, and pleaded rather to be seated at one of the several available booths given the virtually empty room. After some unnecessary negotiating and asking for the manager, we were given the booth. Very similar to first impressions with new people, they say that you can define your dining experience in the first five minutes.
We ordered a Gorgonzola burger (1,150yen) and a cheddar cheeseburger (1,050yen) off the weekend menu (1,000yen lunch specials not available) scribed in English and Japanese. Our tiny, skimpy water glasses arrived, while our utensils and napkins arrived in a tall tumbler glass. While waiting for our burgers, our eyes feasted on the classic era posters from Kentucky Fried Chicken, Bob's Big Boy, Campbell's Soup, and McDonald's, as well as listened to the country music. This music experience can be best described as sitting inside a trucker restaurant, giving one the sense of stopping in a joint somewhere between LA and Las Vegas (think Barstow).
Our burgers had come in the meantime, and at this point the restaurant had gotten considerably smoky with several young Harajuku shoppers lighting up. We tucked into our burgers immediately. General comments on the burger: meat quality could be improved (we had some gristle in the meat), a grilled onion would be a nice option, as well as a pickle. Overall, the key takeaway here is a marginal tasting product with the condiments taking credit for giving it significant character. The "natural yeast bread" is one of the best we've had, while the Gorgonzola gave it an interesting bite and flavor.
Sadly however, we were already ticked off by our waiter. His lack of judgment in the beginning can be overlooked. However, as we studied the menu further, we found out one can "supersize" the paltry steak fries included with your order with one caveat - this is printed only in Japanese at the bottom of the menu. We tried our luck asking to perhaps get a fry refill (think additional bowl of rice), and the unthoughtful waiter replied that we should've stated "omori" at the time of order. This left us scratching our heads.
Needless to say, we wont be returning to this loquacious restaurant given the "nostalgic" dining experience is not worth the hassle. Also, I don't think this is a lady-friendly spot for a meal, given the smoky atmosphere (I'm sure they get enough second-hand smoke from their husband). In case you're still wondering, yes, the restaurant still had plenty of seats available. Oh, and in the uneventful case you do come, bring your goggles. It's a sea of smoke inside.
Great Burger is located on a sophisticated, quiet, Omotesando side street, away from the regular food traffic. An unusual place for an American restaurant. It's interior made me feel nostalgic for America, and I wasn't planning on missing it particularly. The walls are wood paneled, the tables look like they've been borrowed from a Texas bar, and the cooler that greets you in the doorway is full of Budweiser. A tasteful mix of Johnny Cash and similar music soothes the ear as you wait for your food.
The main menu item is a "lunch set," which, for 1,000yen includes a drink, chilled corn soup, steak fries, and the burger of your choice - turkey, garden, mozzarella - a decent selection. I ordered an avocado burger, and relaxed in the empty restaurant for 10 minutes until a wave of people arrived for lunch at the stroke of twelve.
My avocado burger was quite tasty - taller than a Big Mac, enclosed by a toasted dark bun. No complaints. The chef couldn't resist spreading on the mayonnaise though - if that's not your thing you might want to tell them before hand. I don't prefer steak fries, but they resembled what you'd get in the U.S.
I guess Great Burger did its job - I left satisfied and missing home.