Hamburger heavens: The dedicated burger menus of Merica and Angus

Angus has been making a name for itself in the big city since the Galilee steakhouse chain expanded to Tel Aviv nearly a year ago.

The dedicated burger menus at Merica and Angus will please any carnivore. (photo credit: MERICA ANATOLY MICHAELO)
The dedicated burger menus at Merica and Angus will please any carnivore.
The ZOA House in Tel Aviv has been home to a number of restaurants over the years, but none quite like the present tenant – America Tel Aviv, a sprawling compound comprising three eateries: Merica soul food; Gringos Tacos Mexican kitchen; and Johnson, a large al fresco bar.
The menu at Merica may say soul food, but it actually encompasses a whole range of comfort food, including American classics like macaroni and cheese. But you can’t miss the Burger section of the menu, which takes pride of place right in the center.
With five full-size burgers (NIS 54-84), one “monster” sized and three sliders, there is a burger for every appetite. Each burger has its own name, reflecting its ingredients, except for the monster, whose special toppings vary, rotating every few weeks.
The “fine dining” burger of the bunch bears a name that has a lot less class than its components: the Porn burger. Singularly served on brioche halla bread moistened with truffle aioli, the beef patty is topped with cheddar cheese, a fried egg over easy, a crunchy battered and fried onion ring, and – best of all – foie gras. At least you can see why Merica settled on this burger’s unfortunate name, as it is definitely decadent.
The Big Kahuna burger is a nod more to its heritage than its size. Standard toppings like cheddar cheese and caramelized onions are joined by caramelized pineapple, which gives the burger a touch of sweetness. Two kinds of sauces – the house sauce and BBQ sauce – add even more flavor. This burger will appeal to the kind of people who like Hawaiian pizza.
The Juicy Lucy burger is a cheeseburger of a different ilk: the cheese is inside the burger rather than on top. It also comes with an egg over easy and Merica sauce (a zesty version of Thousand Island dressing), plus cherry tomato jam, which lends this burger a distinctive taste.
Burgers are served on white sesame buns, with a choice of a side of French fries or a salad. Merica’s special fries – French fries coated with a buttermilk batter, rendering them extra crispy – are available for NIS 10 extra.
Merica’s burgers can be accompanied by not only cold beer, wine or soft drinks but also a choice of 11 creative specialty cocktails (NIS 38 or NIS 88 for a full shaker) – five with Mexican pedigrees and six American.
The six desserts (NIS 38-48), meanwhile, are quintessentially American – from the corn flakes ice cream to the crack pie and ice cream, both flavored with authentic butterscotch, not the more common caramel in Israel that is similar to dulce de leche. These two are also Texas-sized and over-the-top sweet.
In addition to burgers, Merica offers some vegetarian and even vegan options (including a Portobello mushroom burger), besides bar food favorites like chicken wings (alert: the hot wings are more like the Buffalo wings served in the US, while the wings called “Buffalo” are served with mellower dips). There are also some good meal deals: three-course business lunches on weekdays, and “all you can eat” on Sundays for NIS 100.
Steakhouse-quality burgers at Angus/Anguserie
Angus has been making a name for itself in the big city since the Galilee steakhouse chain expanded to Tel Aviv nearly a year ago, its reputation built primarily on superior steaks and good value. A bit under the radar has been its burger menu – or, to be more precise, its two burger menus.
One comprises five burgers, served in the full-service restaurant, and the other consists of nine burgers, offered by Anguserie, the attached retail butcher outlet cum casual snack bar that does a brisk lunch business.
The five burgers at Angus (NIS 48-52), including one vegetarian Portobello mushroom burger, come with choices of four toppings – fried egg, mushrooms, cheddar cheese and/or a campfire onion – for an extra NIS 5 to NIS 8. A choice of one of five side dishes accompanies the burger at no extra charge: French fries, home fries, mashed potatoes, Asian coleslaw or pico de gallo, a truly excellent salsa.
The nine Anguserie burgers cost a little less (NIS 30-46), as the surroundings are not quite as comfortable: backless bar stools at high tables. The same side dishes are available here as well, for a charge of NIS 10 each. Anguserie also promotes a lunch deal: a burger, a side and a drink for NIS 55.
We sampled one burger from each menu: the Mixburger and the Bistro Burger, both of which feature the two meats at which Angus excels: beef and lamb. The former – a combination of ground beef and ground lamb – has a more delicate flavor than the boldness of all beef. The latter – all beef, topped with lamb bacon – is as juicy and succulent as a burger can be.
For a change of pace from ordinary burgers without upgrading to steaks, the restaurant serves up interesting sandwiches, as well as variations on the theme of ground meat or chicken: meatballs and mini-kebabs. Angus also provides as wide a range of condiments as can be imagined: ketchup, mustard, aioli, BBQ sauce, spicy sriracha, fiery red skhoug, and a spread called Philadelphia, similar to Thousand Island dressing.
Beverages include draft imported or domestic beer, shots or specialty cocktails (not listed on any menu – just on the blackboard, in Hebrew only). There is also an international selection of wines, including the Angus red, a private label blend.
Similarly, desserts at Angus appear nowhere in English, either.
The wait staff will explain the Western and Middle Eastern choices and invariably recommend the two that originate in Arab cuisine. The malabi was soupy and cloyingly sweet, but the kanafeh was superb: mild cheese covered in flaky kadaif strands drizzled with rosewater and covered with a generous layer of pistachios.
The writer was a guest of the restaurants.
Not kosher
26 Ibn Gvirol, Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 688-4884
Not kosher
21 Ha’arba’a, Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 771-5733