The arrival of Tommi’s Burger Joint has been much anticipated. Since we first heard they were coming to Berlin we had been waiting patiently – but after their planned November opening was postponed and they’d been battling red-tape issues since, our patience began to run out. Then, last Friday, their grand opening surprised us all. Offering free burgers all day, we finally got to sample what Tommi’s Burger Joint is all about. Two days later, we went back for more.
Tommi’s Burger Joint sells very simple burgers made to a very high standard. Their menu is sparse and just sticks to the important things in life – hamburgers, fries and a drink. It reminds us of how McDonald’s might have been when it first opened 60 years ago, before the greed took over, when it was just a restaurant that offered a hamburger, a cheeseburger, fries, drinks and shakes that were so good they took over the world.
We’ve all seen those online gags where people compare the McDonald’s hamburgers they receive with the picture on the menu and they look nothing alike… well at Tommi’s Burger Joint, once you’ve unwrapped your burger, you notice that it looks like the picture on the McDonald’s menu but much, much better. Now, you might think we’re taking this comparison with McDonald’s too far (and how can anything resembling McDonald’s be good?) but stick with it. It’ll make sense.
For starters, the seedless buns have that sheen to them, that familiar softness and slight sweetness. The cheese they use isn’t blue cheese, or Monterey Jack, or Swiss cheese, it’s an American cheese single. The buns aren’t over-stuffed with a mix of salad including rocket and lamb’s lettuce, they just use a minimal amount of lettuce, tomato and onion. The fries are even cut, fried and seasoned like McDonald’s fries.
But the difference is: when we think of McDonald’s, it’s a convoluted memory of some weird shared childhood – of being treated to a Happy Meal by our parents, or at a classmate’s birthday party after going to the cinema. One taste, however, and the dream is gone. In stark contrast, Tommi’s burgers are absolutely worth getting nostalgic about.
The reason for their no-frills approach is simple: their patties are just that good. Sourced and shipped fresh from Scotland, these choice lumps of meat are flame-grilled for seconds on an ultra-high heat before being allowed to be cooked more gradually over a lower heat. The results are a criss-cross of char-grilled black and a cooked outer crust which gives the whole burger a deliciously-smoky flavour, with an amazingly pink, tender, and juicy centre. It’s the patty which makes a burger great. Tommi’s Burger Joint knows this, and that’s why their burgers are great.
Tommi’s Burger Joint is an Icelandic export. The original Tommi’s opened in 1981 and is credited as being the first burger joint in Iceland. They have since opened five more branches in Iceland and two in the UK. Their formula of simple burgers made quickly, honestly, and to a high standard is certainly a hit and you can expect to see more Tommi’s Burger Joints opening up around the world soon.
BLY’s top tips for eating at Tommi’s Burger Joint
- Their shakes use Icelandic ice cream and are especially thick, sweet, creamy and delicious.
- There’s a filling bar which holds loads of extra burger toppings including pickles, jalapeños and a butt-load of sauces which is free to use after you’ve received your burger.
- Tommi’s Burger Joint offers a take away service.
- This place is going to get really popular really fast so try to beat the daily rushes to ensure fast service and a place to sit.
Andy says: “This place sets the standard for what a classic cheeseburger should be like. It has a great, relaxed, ‘get in, eat, get out’ vibe to it and I love watching the frenetic activity in the open kitchen as the staff wrestle with that flame-griller, and that resultant smell of charring meat.”
Phil says: “Tommi’s is the most honest burger in Berlin. Nothing fancy, just a bun and awesome Scottish organic beef. It’d be a 9/10 if they would have beer on tap and a little more extras but hey, loving the burger and loving the place just the way it is!”
Berlin Loves You Rating: 8.5/10
This review is part of our series on Berlin’s best burger joints. Read our opinion on what makes a good burger.
Tommi’s Burger Joint