Long considered to be a Stockton institution, Chuck’s Hamburgers has been in the same location for more than 50 years.
It has survived over five decades of social change, economic recessions and recovery, multiple generations of family owners and a near-fatal lawsuit over handicap accessibility in 2009.
“Best burger and fries I’ve ever gotten,” said Justin Tristano, 22, of the restaurant’s lunch menu. “A half basket [of fries] is pretty much more than a large at all major food chains.”
But surely in bad economic times such as these, in a city as miserable as Stockton, no restaurant could live up to that kind of hype…could it?
If the parking lot at 10 a.m. on a recent Tuesday was any indication, the wait would be considerable.
The place was, quite literally, packed.
Not a single seat inside was available and there were a few people lingering outside.
While it was somewhat annoying to have to wait 15 minutes or so to get a seat, it spoke well of the quality to have a full dining area plus people waiting to get in.
Once seated, a waitress promptly took orders. It took another 22 minutes for the meal to arrive, an acceptable wait considering how busy the restaurant was and the fact there was just one cook.
A basic breakfast included: an egg, two slices of bacon, kitchen fries, and a pancake. Other options include hash browns, sausage and omelettes.
The hash browns and kitchen fries were both a perfectly cooked golden brown, with very little grease, which is very refreshing in any sort of fried potato dish.
The hash browns were soft and juicy, while the fries had a slightly crispy exterior with a soft interior. Both had a clear potato flavor, without the overpowering taste of grease or salt.
The fries tasted delicious when paired with the hot sauce, a somewhat spicy sauce with a delicious zesty tomato flavor.
The bacon was perfectly crisp, also with very little grease or fat. It was very salty, with a sweet maple aftertaste. Simply put, it was some of the best bacon I’ve ever had.
The pancake, unfortunately, was not manhole-sized. Regardless, it still ranked as one of the biggest pancakes in Stockton, dominating an entire full sized plate and almost dwarfing the plate with the egg and fries.
It was fluffy and light. It had a slightly moist, creamy and sweet flavor to it.
The omelette smelled fantastic, a peppery aroma with a slight onion tinge.
The eggs were light and fluffy, while the onions and peppers inside were well-cooked -soft, juicy and surprisingly sweet for what they were.
Lunch fare, included a King Burger with jack cheese and bacon. This 1/3 pound patty was monstrous, with too much content for the bun to fully contain.
The meat was rare, but fully cooked, and was very juicy.
The burger came with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions, with items like cheese, bacon, avocado, bell peppers and mushrooms able to be added separately, for a price.
Sadly, not quite.
Portion sizes have diminished over the years, so the pancakes aren’t quite the manhole covers of legend.
Portions are still quite large, though, with most meals having more than enough food for a single sitting.
And the portions are definitely worth the price. Each breakfast ordered was $6.75, and came with the entree, hash browns or kitchen fries, and a single pancake.
The King burger was priced at $4.25, with jack cheese and bacon added for $1.75 extra.
Chuck’s Hamburgers definitely lives up to its reputation, with large portions of delicious food available for a low price.
A wait is to be expected during the brunch and lunch rushes, but the food is worth the wait. Chuck’s is truly a restaurant worthy of being a local institution.
Where: 6034 Pacific Ave., Stockton
Hours: 5 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Information: (209) 473-9977 or chuckshamburgers.da.ru