The Indy Burger Guy visited Teddy’s Burger Guy on Saturday, November 26, 2016.
It was an honest mistake. The menu board at Teddy’s Burger Joint on Indy’s south side s a sprawling chalkboard with dozens of menu items in various colors and seemingly little in the way of order. It was late in the afternoon on a Saturday and, with no one in front of me in line, I had no time to really study the board before making my way the smiling and friendly cashier. Not wanting to keep her waiting longer than necessary, I ordered what I perceived to be the signature burger at Teddy’s.
What I should have ordered was the Teddy Burger with Cheese, which would have satisfied both the ‘signature burger’ and ‘standard cheeseburger’ requirements I usually employ. What I ended up ordering was the Teddy Bear Burger which, despite sharing the name of the restaurant, is not Teddy’s signature. I’m not complaining, mind you, but next time, I’m certainly going to be doing my research before I get to the restaurant.
Teddy’s Burger Joint is a fairly large restaurant on Indy’s south side (just off of I-37 off of Southport Road) with a great deal of down-home charm. Most of the tables are wooden picnic tables set with a roll of paper towels in lieu of napkins and a bottle of ketchup. There are wood accents just about everywhere and pop country music playing on the Muzak. It’s an ideal family spot with an arcade game, play room, and small performance space on site. There’s even a centrally-located fire pit when the days start to get cold.
The Teddy Bear Burger is a pretty standard ‘Western’ burger that I’ve seen on a number of menus over the years. The toppings are fairly normal – bacon, barbecue sauce, and an onion ring, topped with melted cheddar cheese. (I was personally impressed with the way the cheese was melted. Cheddar doesn’t tend to melt as well as other cheeses on a burger.) What I didn’t get on the burger – which was more than a bit disappointing – was any veggies. No tomato. No lettuce. No onion. No pickles. What makes that particularly odd is that the menu online clearly states: “All burgers come with fries, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle.” Did I need to ask for the veggies? Did Teddy’s forget them altogether? Either way, I think they definitely could have enhanced my burger experience and I was disappointed to be without them.
But let’s focus on what I did get. The beef patty at Teddy’s isn’t terribly thick, but it is very well-seasoned. I was personally pleasantly surprised by how well I was able to taste the beef through the onslaught of big flavors coming through the other toppings. The burger was practically swimming in a sea of smoky-sweet barbecue sauce, making for a rather messy burger eating experience. The onion ring provided a nice crunch, while the bacon acted as a perfect salty counterpoint.
And then there was the bun. I tend to be overly critical of hamburger buns, I know, but I maintain that the bun is one of the most important, yet criminally underthought aspects of putting together a burger. Too soft, it can fall apart from getting soaked through by grease and sauces. Too dense and it becomes too difficult to eat. Like the crust of a pizza, a bun can make or break a specific burger experience.
Teddy’s Burger Joint offers a choice of three buns – white, wheat, or pretzel – for all its burgers. I personally tend to find pretzel buns to be overly dense and chewy, so I opted for the white bun. It was… huge. It had to have been either housemade or obtained from a local bakery. This was a high-quality, thick bun with ample girth to carry the weight of this messy burger and its toppings. What it did, however, was throw off the balance of the MTB (meat-toppings-bun) ratio (which might’ve been aided a bit by the addition of some veggies). The bun was also untoasted, which is unfortunate, because I think that could’ve made for a nice accompaniment to this burger.
The Teddy Bear Burger is not a bad burger, not by a long shot. The well-seasoned beef and nicely balanced flavors are the beginnings of a truly great burger, but the lack of veggies, untoasted bun, and overwhelming amount of barbecue sauce make for a burger that feels a bit… incomplete. I’d be up for giving Teddy’s another go and, if you get the chance, you could do a lot worse than the great atmosphere and tasty burger at Teddy’s.
FINAL RANKING: 7.8/10
Teddy’s Burger Joint
2222 W. Southport Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46217
Cost Range: $$–$$$ ($7-$12; $13 and up)