You can eat all the Flamingo Grill burgers you want, but it can’t compare to a burger made in a real restaurant. No offense RPS food services. Luckily, Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream is the home of the best burgers in Bloomington, including the “Big Ugly Burger.”
Most places weigh the beef before cooking, so that quarter-pounder you picked up at Burger King IMU was actually an eighth-pounder—about two ounces.
The “Big Ugly” is a whole lot of food: it weighs 22 ounces before cooking, one full pound (16 ounces) after cooking.
What I noticed when I entered the place was that the walls were plastered with hundreds of photos. Consuming the “Big Ugly” in its entirety earns you a spot on Bub’s hall of fame. Your face will be immortalized and forever known as the conqueror of a really big burger.
Of course, not everybody who wants a burger in B-town wants their cause of death to be the “Big Ugly,” so they’ve enhanced the menu to suit the needs of less worthy folk, like me! Their other burger sizes include the “Not-So-Ugly,” (half-pound after cooking) and the “Settle-for-Less-Ugly” (quarter-pound after cooking) burgers, in your choice of beef or elk meat (if you’re really about that lean meat).
Our server seated me and my friend and set down a tray that held two “chili shooters,” a small sample of their hot and rich chili. It’s a nice way to get the appetite going.
Next, we picked our drinks; Bub’s carries Coke products and a large variety of brews for the 21-and-over crowd, including a massive 22 fluid ounce bottle of Fat Tire. One of their top selling selections is an ice-bucket of five bottles of domestic or imported beer, to share with your friends, of course. They also have milkshakes, but I figured I had quite the meal ahead of me and ordered something less-filling, a Coke.
I stuck with the “Settle-for-Less-Ugly” with bleu cheese crumbles and a basket of sloppy waffle fries to split with my friend. My friend got a “Settle-for-Less-Ugly” with American cheese and bacon.
While we waited for our food to arrive, I noticed something curious on the table.
Speaking of the meal, our food had arrived. The results were far from disappointing:
The burgers are cooked to order and all of the fixings are set aside, which pleased the picky eater in me. The meat is well-seasoned and hand-shaped, the bun is toasted and fresh, and the cheese is perfectly assembled on top. It’s truly a labor of love for Bub’s chefs.
The sloppy waffles basket could be a meal of its own: it’s a big pile of waffle fries coated with a fair amount of nacho cheese and bacon chunks and topped with a dollop of sour cream. It’s possible to get chili added to the sloppy waffle fries, but we didn’t indulge this time.
What would be a good burger without a mess? Not to mention the fries are literally described as “sloppy,” it’s hard to imagine not making a mess halfway through the meal. Fear not, the table is supplied with a roll of paper towels, so you never have to flag down a waitress to get more napkins.
The plates were essentially licked clean, and I sat there with a full stomach wondering how in the world that skinny little twerp ate four “Big Uglies.” I had no room for ice cream, or any kind of dessert for that matter, so I passed on visiting the separate-but-still connected ice cream shop.
All in all, this is a fairly new restaurant, but it has become a Bloomington classic for me. For me, Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream stands among the ranks of the B-town giants: Mother Bear’s, BuffaLouie’s, Kilroy’s, Nick’s, and Yogi’s.
Reviewed by: Matt Koskela