Tour de HamDel: Burgers

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In which free food aficionado Christopher Morris-Lent evaluates the bewildering array of options at everyone’s favorite deli.

kMoving into East Campus sophomore year is hell on the stomach. Having been robbed of the breadbasket of John Jay and being too lazy and ur-masculine to really cook for myself on a regular basis, I found myself having to strike out in search of sustenance on the culinary bazaar known as Amsterdam Avenue.  Fortunately, deliverance was little more than a block or two away: Hamilton Delicatessen.  For the next few weeks, I was like the Morgan Spurlock of HamDel, relentlessly searching for the most delicious and unhealthy hamburger my parents’ measly largesse could buy.  I therefore present to you the fruits of my month-long binge: a comparative analysis of what the deli modestly calls “Hamilton’s Famous Burgers.”  (Next month: Ham’s Famous Combination Heroes!)

Uncle Sam

With its jingoistic name and quixotic mixture of ingredients (dill pickles, coleslaw, American cheese), I was surprised to find that the Uncle Sam is actually delicious.  The whole – a sweet, savory burger with nuanced textures – is far greater than the sum of its parts, which is pretty much what HamDel is like in general: the cramped space, unadorned food, and unpleasant crowds somehow combine to create a dining experience that is as addictive as it is psychologically soothing.  The other day, I walked into HamDel while in the midst of mental tumult and found myself vacillating as to which burger to get.  The sandwich artist read my mind and said, “Uncle Sam, regular?”  The intimacy of the service and sweetness of the coleslaw warmed my heart and belly for the rest of the afternoon.  (Rating: 3.5 / 5)

The Don

The Don is undoubtedly HamDel’s worst burger.  Its accoutrements (tomato sauce, mozzarella) are comparatively meager and blend poorly together.  When I was pitching this article to the Blue and White editors, I waved a half-eaten Don in the air to illustrate the urgency of my project.  Then I promptly dumped the rest of it into the garbage.  Any potential for rage towards the establishment that made it was quelled by the stamp I got on my gold card, bringing me one step closer to the summit of Mount Parnassus. (Rating: 0.5 / 5)

Mona Lisa

There is nothing feminine or delicate about the Mona Lisa; rather, it’s the most manly sandwich HamDel has to offer, topped with bacon, melted with mozzarella, and dripping with barbeque sauce.  The flavors are gloriously lacking in subtlety, and the certainty of future coronary blockage only makes the instant gratification all the more delightful.  I would have completed this project much earlier if not for the titillation it produced within the deepest bowels of my alimentary canal to say: “I’ll get a Mona Lisa, please.”  Textural note: sometimes the barbeque sauce can be a trifle unwieldy.  (Rating: 4 / 5)


One of the more enigmatic selections on the HamDel smorgasbord, the E-Mail comes with cheddar cheese, raw onions, and guacamole.  At this point I would like to present the following two ideas: raw onions are far better (crisper, zestier) than cooked onions; and guacamole is pretty much always delicious.  Accordingly, the E-mail is a gustatory delight but somewhat of a textural disaster, as the guac has an unfortunate tendency to soften and perforate the lower bun, creating fissures that bleed green onto the top of your fashionably faded jeans and the nether regions of your new Lacoste polo.  (Rating: 3 / 5)

The Insult

The aptly named Insult’s defining characteristic is the carpet of hot peppers that streches across the top of the burger, cloying the tastebuds and setting the mouth ablaze.  Proponents of snorting wasabi might enjoy the Insult; I did not.  (Rating: 1.5 / 5)

sfThe Manhattan Project

The combination of feta cheese, tomatoes, and vinaigrette makes the Manhattan Project a most novel and rewarding taste experience.  The mild and savory flavors of the tomato and patty intermingle sublimely with the sharp scintillas of cheese and tangy dollops of dressing.  (Rating: 3.5 / 5)

The Judge

The Judge, on the other hand, is not only a culinary peroration both tastewise and texturewise, it’s an affirmation of everything I cherish about HamDel.  Intellectualizing the deliciousness of The Judge would be antithetical to the spirit of HamDel, but I will do it anyway: three varieties of mediocre yet delicious meats are piled atop one another and accentuated with a nationalistic layer of American cheese and a brigade of fried onions that practically explode with flavor and thrombosis.  Whoever said America hasn’t developed its own distinctive and orgasmic food culture?  (Rating: 4.5 / 5)

Hamburger/Cheeseburger/Make Your Own

Thinking like this is dangerous. The burger and cheeseburger themselves are far too understated, and all of my own creations have lacked the synergistic quality and convenience of the preconceived sandwiches.  (Rating: 2.5 / 5)  (Rating: 2.5 / 5)

Deluxe or Regular?

This harmless-looking question is HamDelese for “would you like fries with that?”  At first, I was taken in by the gluttony of it all and assented.  I quickly found the fries to be flaccid, bready, and dry, which is a most unpleasant contrast to the juicy, tumescent, savory flesh of the burgers themselves.  The only time it’s worth getting deluxe is when your gold card is paying for the entire sandwich anyway; otherwise, if a hamburger alone won’t suffice to satiate your Taft-like hunger, I recommend spending the extra two bucks on a bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips instead.

Anything to drink with that?

I suggest Peach Ice Tea Snapple.



  1. I sincerely  

    hate Christopher Morris-Lent. I bet half of the borderline racist shit that appears on Bwog comments is from him, seeing similar comments in Facebook events and groups. Just because you can look at things with a critical eye doesn't make your viewpoint any less despicable.

  2. or you should

    replace the regular fries with their awesome curly fries

  3. also  

    even though i usually avoid veggie burgers at all costs, theirs are really good.

  4. yea  

    cmon at least reading the menu would have told you the mona lisa doesnt have mozzarella on it. also i second the curly fries substitution, theyre regular fries (and onion rings for that matter) are hella weak. however having to pay 2.25 for the fries hurts when m2m makes your burger a deluxe for 1 dolla

  5. ...  

    in terms of coronary blockage, i see your mona lisa and raise you a subsconscious "Lifeguard." For the uninitiated, that's a philly cheese-steak, with chicken breast, and a BLT thrown on top.

    My theory: they call it a lifeguard because you really should have someone nearby to call 911 in case your heart stops.

    Unrelated note: M2M fries and cheeseburgers are the shit.

  6. paninis  

    tuscan panini ftw!

  7. Curly fries  

    really are the way to go.

  8. EAL  

    Only the legendary Rob Trump has completed the grueling Tour de HamDel. Few mortals have the strength or endurance to match him. Eating every burger on the menu does NOT mark the completion of the Tour de HamDel. You must eat everything they have, including the elusive Philly Cheesesteak.

  9. mgh  

    Reading a CML article is painful. He injects so many needless words into his work, it seems like someone just took a regular article and filtered it through Roget's Thesaurus. Twice.

    Here are some words CML has used:


    • Don't forget  


    • style  

      You forgot:





    • rrgh  

      not to quibble with word choices, but I use "cloying" and "accoutrement" all the time, and this wasn't an offensive article, but I think chris really needs to swallow his pride and listen to an editor once in awhile. I doubt he's like this in real life, but on paper he acts like he's god's gift to the written word - which could be funny if he didn't take himself as seriously as he does.

      • ALC

        Mr. Rrgh,

        CML actually is "like this in real life". This is why he gets away with his word spew, and wonderfully so. The first time I edited one of his football recaps last year, I thought my head would explode from word overkill. But now I´m just glad someone in the world tries to do his own thing. Let the boy have his niche.

  10. hamdel regular

    If you don't know enough to switch out the shit fries for the curly fries, can I really trust you to grade anything else in the store?

  11. CML Fan Club  

    CML, I liked your article. I enjoyed it. You are lovely.

  12. ARR

    You're a fucking idiot. The E-Mail is culinary perfection embodied.

  13. ...  

    CML has pretty hair.

  14. Sprinkles

    Isn't "measly largesse" an oxymoron?

  15. cpd  

    i wish rjt had written this post.

  16. Spanky  

    Isn't there a massive protest going on outside? Come on BWOG get with it!

  17. umm

    you are amazing! if you use the words "cloying" and "accoutrement" all the time. i dont think i've used them once since school started (but i probably will once winter starts, when i have more accoutrements to keep track of and the sometimes cloying smell of pine wafts down broadway).

  18. actually

    the "big" words this kid is using fit in pretty well with the piece and don't seem forced at all. additionally, the piece was hilarious. i look forward to a ranking of the sandwiches. nypd is king.

  19. CML'S Article  

    While the ideas of the article themselves are quite simple, the manner in which they are expressed can be deemed nothing less than absurdly prolix. A haphazard jumble of unnecessary vocabulary, combined with a sprawlingly labyrinthine syntax and esoteric references to mountains, render this article cipheresque in its unreadability. This cacophonous jumble of letters and punctuation
    will leave the dear reader with little else than a gaping bald spot due to the volumes of hair pulled out in frustration while attempting to parse said verbiage. (Rating: 0.5 / 5)

  20. CML  

    Hehe, I don't take myself seriously at all. I just write so I can enjoy the process and other people can enjoy the article. Apologies for the shoddy reporting - this wasn't the first time I've screwed up.

    Oh, and my diction is monstropolous.


    • alexw  

      What do you call the combination of October, November, December, and January?

      A behemonth.


      • DHI  

        Congratulations, that was a Tyrannosaurous response, Mr. Weinberg.

        Yes that's right, it's a goddamn adjective that's a homophone for Tyrannosaurus.

        But do you know what's even more dangerous than the most Tyrannosaurous disaster imaginable? The impending velocirapture.

        • alexw  

          David Iscoe, it appears that your love of fine cognacs is getting the better of you. I fear that someday that the sweet auburn elixir you enjoy so much will clog your liver with toxins, leading to your untimely passing.

          On your tombstone it will say, "David Iscoe, Victim of the Alcoholocaust."

  21. anti-anti-rjt

    Rob Trump may have done it first, but Peter Mende-Siedlecki did it better. That is, after he did it, he went out and bragged about to fucking everyone.

  22. why  

    would you have someone like CML report on taste when he obviously has none?

    cmon bwog




  24. dshfjg  

    rob trump wasnt the first to do this.
    im a senior this year and i did it my freshman year. i had everything on th emenu. so did my entire wallach suite (ok like two other guys did it with me). so ha rob trump, suck it
    (you probably know who i am so remember: im better than you)

  25. can  

    people who live in Wallach truly be better than anyone who doesnt?

  26. i love this post  

    ... if only for the hilarious comments it has spawned. Also, can the Don really be the worst burger at HamDel? Indeed, the "accoutrements" make the burger soggy rather quickly, but I have enjoyed it anyway, and my opinions > CML's.

  27. expert  

    i stand by the manhattan project and am glad CML saw its beauty. the salty feta is amazing with the burger and the balsamic gets absorbed by the bun (which while soggy is amazing). The combination of tastes is euphoric to put it mildly and has spawned many a food coma when combined with curly fries. However never eat the coleslaw that they serve you when you get a deluxe. It's just crap.
    Also for sandwiches, either the godfather or the stallone. the lewinsky's not bad though

  28. cheese fries  

    with lots of ketchup

  29. come on  

    Manhattan project is God.

  30. DHI  

    Many of the burgers are tasty, and but why is nobody here supporting the Grilled Chicken #8? Spicy, big sandwich, with whole chicken pieces and mozzarella. It doesn't take a genius to know that's a good sandwich and but you all must be geniuses because it would take some powerful thinking to find anything wrong with it.

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