In March, 2014, the first Otto’s Burger location opened its doors. It was the brainchild of a young burger entrepreneur named Daniel MacGowan Von Holstein; the most German-ly named person ever….
…Appropriate for a Hamburger opening a Hamburger joint in Hamburg. Editor’s note: he may not be from Hamburg, thus meaning he may not be a Hamburger.
MacGowan Von Holstein named Otto’s Burger for Otto Krause, the German chef that American chain White Castle credits (arguably) with inventing the hamburger, way back in 1891. It’s one of the many burger-origin theories that are kicked about, some of which I discussed in the last Hamburg Hamburger Files.
The Otto Krause story goes; that after some experimentation, Krause (who was from Hamburg) created a dish which consisted of a ground beef patty fried in butter, topped with a fried egg, served in a toasted bun/bread. German sailors would later omit the egg as they got further out to sea and ran out of eggs. Though who doesn’t love a good fried egg on a burger?!
The sandwich was called the “Deutsches Beefsteak,” and many of the sailors traveling on ships between Hamburg and New York began to request this “Hamburg style” sandwich at American steakhouses when they reached port.
Fast forward to 2017 and Otto’s Burger has three locations – going on four – across Hamburg and is thriving in the gourmet burger market. I ate at the Grindlehof location, which takes shabby, grimy-chic to Spuntino-esque levels. Exposed copper pipes, unfinished walls with partial tiling, exposed brick pillars and industrial lighting set the mood for the ultimate hipster burger experience.
The old-timey diner-style seating and tables fit perfectly with the small bar and the location, yet the place is surprisingly large once you get inside. Otto’s burgers will run you between €7.70-9.50 before any extras that you may add.
I went for the bacon burger, coming in at €8.50 and topped with bacon, red cheddar, pickled onions, lettuce, BBQ sauce and chipotle chili sauce. Ordered with a undersized side of onion rings (€4.50 and totally not worth it), the burger was nevertheless a really delicious revelation – especially when sparingly smeared with truffle mayo.
Otto’s Burger has since reduced the cost of their sides – the onion rings now cost €4.00, but I would say to stick with the fries or coleslaw for €3.00 or perhaps the sweet-potato fries for €4.00 would be worth it.
The basic Otto’s Cheeseburger starts from €7.70 and their offerings go on up to the Trüffel Burger at €9.50: topped with a portobello mushroom, red cheddar cheese, baby spinach leaves and their truffle mayo. As always, the obligatory chicken burger, and two types of veggie burger (Quinoa and Mushroom) are available, but why are you even reading this website if you’d go for those?!
They also offer a variety of sauces – the aforementioned truffle mayo is excellent. Ranging from €0.50 to €1.50, Otto’s Burger offers smokey mayo, chipotle chili sauce, BBQ sauce, parmesan mayo, honey-peanut mayo, jerk mayo, and fresh guacamole.
While the portion of onion rings was really disappointing, I was nonetheless very happy with my burger. I’d say that it easily outpaces the Frankfurt burger joints that I’ve tested thus far, though perhaps comes up short when compared to Hamburg’s Dulf’s Burger.
However, I can’t let one bad onion ring experience overshadow my overall satisfaction. I will definitely be back soon to test out Otto’s Mr. T Burger (€8.50 encrusted in mustard, topped with melted cheese, caramelized onions, pickles, salad hearts and truffle mayo). The servers’ friendliness, grimed-chic vibe, and cool-crowd-customers make Otto’s Burger really endearing.
Otto’s Burger Grindelhof is located at Grindelhof 33, 20146 Hamburg; and you can visit their website here to see their other locations.