24134 Mission Blvd
Hayward, CA 94544
At first glance, the towering, old-fashioned neon sign that says 1/4 lb Giant Burgers might make you run off the road. It is perfectly nostalgic, still in remarkably good shape, and says everything you need to know about what will be on the menu.
At second glance, you may be a little intimidated to stroll in and set yourself at the small counter. Especially if it is 2 o’clock in the morning. The building is a little worn from the years, and it’s certainly not fancy. But get in there!
1/4 lb Giant Burgers has been there a long time. You can tell by the cracked, orange vinyl stools and the small jukebox that sits atop the counter. You can tell by the old menu signs advertising homemade pie, grilled onions, and hot chocolate. Not the stuff you see in most burger joints. And then there is the sign that reads “The Hamburger You Grew Up With…Since 1966.” That gives it away for sure.
For reasons I wish someone would explain, 1/4 lb Giant Burgers is open 24 hours. It always has been. Because the 9-seat counter sits directly behind the front window, you can see exactly how full the place is at any moment. And no matter how late it is, there is usually a person or two munching down one of the big burgers or enjoying a slice of pie.
The menu is simple. Burgers ($3.00), grilled onions ($0.65), shakes ($3.00), and pie. Homemade pie. There are a few other items like a chicken sandwich and hot dogs (with or without chili), but the sign says burgers, darn it! And burgers are why you go there.
The burgers are big, and come standard with loads of lettuce, onion, tomato, mustard, and mayonnaise. A pile of fries is served hot out of the oil and is big enough for 3 or more eaters. And they will cook your burger to order. If you want it pink, they will make it pink. Just ask. How cool is that? Shakes are either red, white, or brown.
Sitting there at the counter takes one back a lot of years. While you watch the ladies working up your burger, it’s fun to take in the shiny chrome pie safe hanging on the wall, the old glass-front freezers in the back, the long out-of-date tunes on the jukebox.
They don’t make burger joints like this anymore, and it’s fun to see how it was before the chains came along. Last time I was in, an old guy sitting at the counter very cordially invited me to take a swig from his paper bag-wrapped bottle. Pretty sure that wasn’t on the menu! But isn’t that all part of the charm? These kinds of places are few and far between, and closing down faster than they should be. Go while you still can!
Just Good Eats © 2007