Burger Review

Gilley's PM Lunch


category: Portsmouth burgers, New Hampshire burgers

175 Fleet Street

Portsmouth, NH 03801

(603) 431-6343




Other Opinion





The Place


Gilley's is a Portsmouth institution that's been slinging burgers for four decades and hotdogs for nearly a centrury. The one-time mobile operation is now permanently anchored in downtown Portsmouth in a well maintained 1940s Worcester Dining Company car. The cramped environswhich were also stiflingly hot, at least on my visitafford a view into the kitchen where burgers and burger buns griddle away with no need for timers. Ordering is from a compact wall menu focused on burgers, dogs, fries, a limited arsenal of toppings and no need for gourmet deviation from the classics. There are two dining options: the classic stool and counter setup inside or picnic tables outside. A sign warns you not to ask for water, as there's a machine out back.




The Bun


The simple whitebread bun is the same time tested standard also found at McDonald's on their smaller hamburgers, cheeseburgers and doubles. Unlike McDonald's, Gilley's griddles the buns rather than toasting them.




The Meat


The beef is as simple as the bun: straightforward ground chuck, again similar to McDonald's but fresher and with a seemingly higher fat content. Just as at McDonald's, the patties are griddled. The edges on my burger got a little crunchy while retaining a pink and reasonably juicy interiora pleasant surprise given the thinness of the patty.




The Toppings


I'm not sure if this is a plus or a minus, but besides the cheese and bacon, they ask you whether you want ketchup, mustard, etc., and apply it for you. There are no squeeze bottles on the counter, which I would have wanted for the fries. Same with salt.


The white American cheese melted into a thick blob atop the burger. Bacon was crisp but otherwise a minor player.




The Fries


Fries appear to be handcut and appear to be double fried to get some extra crisp texture without losing the fluffy interior. What I received was an upgrade from the generic fries pictured in the must-have burger book Hamburger America by George Motz. (On the downside, the Gilley's burger pictured in that book looks far more delicious than the one I received.)



The Bottom Line


Overall, the Gilley's burger didn't disappoint but didn't knock my socks off.


This is a much-written-about place whose reputation and historical context can easily overshadow the burger itself. If you go in expecting burger nirvana, you'll set yourself up for a letdown. Think McDonald's style burger, with most of the same ingredients, only made with a little more precision and carenothing more, nothing less. Go in with that mindset and Gilley's will come through.





Other Opinion/Info

Yelp reviews of Gilley's PM Lunch

Urbanspoon reviews of Gilley's PM Lunch


Gilley's PM Lunch on Urbanspoon


A diner car for eating with an additional structure for cooking.


Old time feel with stools and counters.


click to view larger image

Burger and fries.



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