Midwest Living Review
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and ended up getting interrogated? What size? How do you want it cooked? What would you like on it? Do you want wild rice, fries, onion rings, potato salad, potato wedges, salad or soup? Vegetable beef, creamy tomato, tomato bisque, cream of mushroom? When you settle into a stool at Nick's Hamburger Shop in Brookings, South Dakota, the process is much simpler. The waiter lays down a piece of waxed paper that will serve as your plate and asks, "How many?" The usual rules of restaurant reviewing don't apply at Nick's. How big are the portions? Small. Ambience? Sparse. Selection? Not really. But on any given weekend, the 30-some seats at this downtown lunch counter teem with smiling diners. Behind them, more people stand, waiting for a seat or waiting for a takeout order to eat at one of the picnic tables outside. Nick's Hamburgers has been serving up these little gems since 1929, and there's no sign its popularity is waning. The small, roundish burgers on amazingly fresh buns are more like White Castle -- but without the grilled onions -- than anything with the "Mc" prefix. And at $1.59 a burger, it's hard to go wrong. We ordered two, and finished the small burgers in about six bites. But they were delicious bites -- an explosion of beef, grease and American cheese in our mouths. We asked our neighbor if we'd look like gluttons ordering two more. He turned to his teenage son at the next stool. "What's your record?" Without hesitating, the son said, "Eight." Our neighbor turned back, "Go ahead." We absolutely did.