On my trip to Santa Cruz a couple of weekends ago, Jess, Alex, and I decided to make a trip to The Counter, a burger restaurant founded in Santa Monica. Jess actually worked at the original Counter, before it was a chain, so it’s always fun to go with her because she’s tried everything on the menu. The menu itself is fun, as it is simply a clipboard with a checklist. Pick your meat, your bun (or lack thereof: the burger bowl), your toppings, your sauce…The Counter serves a seriously customizable burger.
Even though this burger is in a bowl, it still qualifies as a sandwich because the hamburger is probably among the most American of sandwiches. America is often criticized or demeaned for its lack of a national cuisine, but the hamburger as we know it has become a very American foodstuff. Thus, the hamburger is one of the most important sandwiches America has to offer, and it is almost impossible to find a burger outside of the States that could compete. Furthermore, The Counter is an embodiment of a very American eating characterization: customization. Outside of the US, changing a dish is very uncommon. Rarely does one hear “can you add cucumbers?” or “without mushrooms” or “can I have the sauce on the side?” Making a dish suited to the individual is something not often found in other countries, and so The Counter bases itself on one of the most American ideals.