A shout-out to Road Tips reader "R.A.B." who commented after my entry on Dinker's Bar in Omaha (click here to see my entry) that I really needed to try a newer place in town, Sinful Burger out in the suburb of Bellevue. I had it on my list to try for awhile and I finally got a chance to go there for lunch on a recent trip out to Omaha.
Sinful Burger is a family owned and operated business, started by the husband and wife team of Jim and Debbie Nearing. Much like people who start up barbecue joints, the Nearings would make homemade burgers in their backyard for their neighbors. It got to the point where the neighbors would pay for the burgers, they were so good. So good, their neighbors would say, that they were sinful. At the urging of their son, C.J., the Nearings took seven years experience of backyard burger barbecues and decided to start up their own restaurant. They opened Sinful Burger in May of 2011 using closely guarded family recipes to make their burgers.
It was around 12:30 when I got to Sinful Burger. Actually, it was pretty tough to find. It's located on Twin Creek Drive (which didn't register on my GPS) just east of S. 42nd St. and north of Nebraska Highway 370, about a mile west of the Kennedy Freeway. (see map) It's in the northeast corner of a strip mall in a space that looked like it possibly was a restaurant that had a drive up window. The place was about half full when I got there, taking a seat in a booth along the large glass windows facing west. My server, Alex (a 20-something young lady), came over, greeted me and asked me if I'd like something to drink. They have a handful of local craft beers and the usual domestics on tap and in bottles. I just ordered a water for the time being.
Actually, Sinful Burger is a sports bar/burger joint. It sort of looks like a 50's-era diner with heavy padded booth seats, padded chairs and diner-style tables. A number of flat screen televisions were on the normal sports channels and there were some pictures and other memorabilia from local teams on the walls. I'm guessing the red color that engulfed the decor at Sinful Burger had to do with the Nearing's love for University of Nebraska football.
There is a nice three-sided bar at Sinful Burger that I contemplated sitting at when I first came in and, I'll have to say, that the booths were a little tight. I'm not a small guy, but the booths at Sinful Burger were almost too small between the seats and table. If four people that had a little bit of girth on them had to sit in the booth, they'd be pretty uncomfortable. I noticed two large guys sitting at a table near me enjoying their burgers. They had the right idea.
And like at nearby Stella's (click here to see my entry on Stella's), Sinful Burger pulls in a wide array of people for their noon time crowd. There were airmen from nearby Offutt Air Force Base sitting in a booth next to me. The two guys I talked about earlier sitting at the table near me were construction workers. Two guys in dress shirts and ties were enjoying lunch in booth on the wall across from me, napkins as bibs guarding the front of their white shirts. And a family of three with a little girl were seated at a table near the door.
The menu at Sinful Burger has, of course, burgers, but they also have appetizers such as housemade reuben rolls, onion rings, chicken wings, fried pickle spears and mozzarella sticks. For people not looking for a burger, Sinful Burger also has something called Debbie's Infamous Indian Taco which pays homage to Debbie Nearing's Sioux Indian heritage. It consists of an Indian flat bread topped with chili, cheddar cheese, lettuce, onion and tomatoes. They also have a fried or grilled chicken finger sandwich that features a housemade chipotle sauce. And they also have a garden salad or a black bean veggie burger for the health conscious.
The main burgers at Sinful Burger are all named after the seven deadly sins. Most of the burgers start out with 1/2 lb. pressed patties and then they go from there. The "Lust" burger features a burger patty topped with basil pesto, bleu cheese crumbles, and housemade garlic mayo. The "Wrath" is topped with pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, and chipotle mayonnaise. The "Greed" is topped by two mozzarella sticks and smothered in Sinful Burgers homemade chili.
Outside of the seven deadly sin burgers, their signature burger is the Sinful Burger - the burger that got all the Nearing's neighbors hot and bothered. It's a "Juicy Lucy"-style burger with American cheese folded inside two 1/4 lb. burger patties and grilled to a medium. And if you want to jack up the heat for any of their burgers on the menu, Sinful Burger features a housemade "evil" sauce that is described as "sweet, tangy, and very warm".
And even though they have a "Gluttony Burger" - two 1/2 lbs burger patties - cooked "Juicy-Lucy" style - and topped with bacon and cheese, with two grilled cheese sandwiches as buns (that's over a pound of food!), Sinful Burger also has a "challenge" burger - the "Goliath" that features 5 lbs. of burger meat and fries. A local Bellevue lady - Molly Schuyler - actually holds the record for the devouring the Goliath in 17 minutes and 3 seconds. I've seen pictures of her and she's not a big gal at all. But she's been slamming back food challenges around the Omaha area including the "Stellanator" at Stellas - six 6.5 oz burger patties, 6 fried eggs, 12 pieces of bacon, 6 pieces of cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos, & Peanut Butter all on a bun served with a basket of fries. She did that one in 15 minutes. Whoa!
I was far from being THAT hungry when Alex came over to take my order. I thought about getting the Sinful Burger, but I'm so spoiled from the places in the Twin Cities that I feel make the best "Juicy Lucy" burgers that I knew that I'd be disappointed if I got one. I ended up getting the "Pride" - a burger patty topped with sauteed mushrooms, bacon and Swiss cheese. It also said that it was slathered in their housemade hot mustard. I asked Alex if I could get the mustard on the side.
About 20 minutes after I ordered, Alex brought my Pride burger out to me. It was served in a small plastic basket with thin cut fries. It featured a split-top bun crown and a small wooden "spear" to hold it all in place. Ring onion slices were on the burger.
The burger was thick and somewhat juicy. It was almost tough to hold with one hand to get the picture above to the right. The first bite was somewhat overpowered by the very fresh onions. But the burger was juicy and flavorful. The sauteed mushrooms were thick and tasty, and the bacon was crisp. The menu said that the burger would be covered with Swiss cheese, but it may have been just one little slab of cheese on the burger.
I dipped part of the burger into the spicy mustard that Alex brought out as a side. Let's just say I was glad that I didn't get it on the burger. It would have severely overpowered the overall taste of the burger. I even dipped a couple fries into the mustard to get the full effect. The spicy mustard was hot, definitely getting my attention. But it wouldn't have been good on the burger, in my opinion. Quite actually, looking back, I wish I would have gotten a side of the "evil" sauce instead of the spicy mustard. Maybe next time.
The fries were literally a throw-away for me. They were all right, but I was going to concentrate on the burger. But there was just something missing with the taste of the burger. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. It's not that the burger was bad - far from that. It's just that is wasn't this "great" burger that I thought it could or should be.
Maybe my expectations were a little high going into Sinful Burger. While the burger was good, it didn't particularly jump out at me, slap me in face and get my attention. I don't know if it was the "secret ingredients" that they use to season the burgers or what. It was a fine burger, but I thought it could have been much better for what it was. Still, I may be a tad critical for a burger that would beat 90% of the other burger joints in Omaha, but falls short - in my estimation - to three or four others in the area.