After 32 years of plying his trade at one of the finest BBQ joints in the nation, Robin Salzer knows his way around a cheeseburgerâ€”especially a BBQ version.
First, some backstory: Salzer first visited the Golden State 32 years ago, during a Christmas week when the wind chill factor was officially -Too Many Below Zero back in his home town of Milwaukee. It was 50 here, in the deep dark heart of a Southern California winter.
Salzer thought it was a heat wave. You can all figure out what happened next.
Formerly the youngest IHOP franchise owner ever, Salzer said goodbye to Wisconsin, and took his lifelong love of smoke, wood, fire and meat to the next level, opening his bbq restaurant out at Hastings Ranch. Now itâ€™s one of the most popular and influential BBQ joints out there in the BBQ Universe, from Portland to Portland.
â€œI kinda missed breakfast when I converted this place to BBQ,â€ he told us recently, and his customers kinda missed their Chinese Chicken Salad, but he never looked back. Most recently he catered the National Barbeque Association Convention in San Diego.
The best BBQ dudes in America, and he is doing the catering. Are you feeling me?
He is also the official BBQ Guy for the Rose Bowl. You get the idea.
Robinâ€™s entry in Cheeseburger week is, frankly, impressive. Chef Armando Perez, a 20-year veteran, served us up a delicious fresh-ground beef patty on an oversized bun, topped with tomatoes, crispy lettuce, cheddar cheese and pulled pork. Itâ€™s a perfect equation. The cheeseburger actually tasted fresher than a lot our burgers this past week. Chalk that up to our hunger, but it was significant.
The race gets tighter.
Robinâ€™s Wood Fire BBQ is at 395 N Rosemead Blvd, Pasadena. (626) 351-8885. www.robinsbbq.com