Coastal cities are meant for tourists. Look at the usual food offerings, it makes no sense to serve crab meat, clam chowder and lobster rolls when fishing boats have not docked nearby for decades. These ingredients are probably airlifted from Louisville and Memphis. Both cities are major Fedex/UPS hubs, thus theoretically have some of the freshest items in the United States and in the world. Yes, nobody would think that better seafood might actually be found inland, rather than on the coast. Yet, businesses are still built to cater to eager sun burnt customers looking for traditional seaside offerings, rather than around quality meals. Don’t get me wrong – many of the best clam chowders are still found in port cities. Our original plan in Astoria is to try the famous fish and chips, made from tuna for some reason, but they were closed before we arrive. I guess odd meals require odd timings. Some random searches later, we walk a block out towards Custard King.
No expectations at all. I was thinking that this is another scam for tourists dollars. Think about it, only the very hungry and somewhat naive Americans would eat burgers and shakes by the beach. I’ve also had enough bad burgers in and around Portland. I happen to disagree with many online reviewers, as delicious burgers does not seem to be as common as what the interweb is suggesting.. This shop looks cute enough though, a small retro food stand by the side of a major road. I would probably have stop at this drive in, had I been driving down the main street. Custard King might have some rich history (established in 1951), but it has been updated with glass= windows, The architecture is also geared for the rainy weather, as the ordering counter has a little shelter that blocks wind, but nothing more. Menu-wise, it is pretty standard for a diner, offering burgers and shakes; with an coastal flair by offering fish and chips (addition by the latest owners). I got my usual order of cheeseburgers and fried onion, with a side of chocolate dipped custard, and fish and chips. (it is Custard King, after all)
Since it is not fast food, as much as it seems like one, we have to wait. The line never stop forming, and this is not even 5 in the afternoon. The promised time is pretty reasonable, and we are back in the car after 15 minutes. The cheeseburgers are stacked, very good looking and thick. The burgers came as 1/3 lbs, rather than the more common 1/8lbs or less common 1/4lbs found in the PNW. I love smashed burger, but I don’t get it why smashed burgers is the only thing available in town. 1/3lbs are more my comfort size, and that could explain why this burger is excellent. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but this is very slightly better than Burger Steven’s, which was my previous choice of best burger I’ve eaten in 2020. Other contributing factors could have been the caramelized onion, the fresh vegetables, or even the secret thousand island sauce. Whatever it is, the combination is hypnotic. The fries are pretty fresh and delicious, and the fish and chips are good too. Oh, did I mentioned about the clam chowder? It is also very creamy and flavorful, but all these are noise as my mind is still blown away by the burger.
If there needs to be a point deducted from Custard King, it is ironically, the custard. I ordered one that is chocolate dipped. The coating is okay, and the custard is also okay. It did not impress me, but did not disgusts me. Next time though, I’ll try the milkshake, or even just get another entree. Yes, there will be a next time. The meal sizes here are huge, and the prices are reasonable. That’s not even talking about the most delicious burger I’ve had in a long while (but only by a very slight margin). Astoria, you are starting to look much more interesting than I’ve imagined. I can’t wait to come back!
Visited: January 16, 2021 at 4pm for dinner.
Address: 1597 Commercial St