Forget Mississippi's status as the chicken capital and consider this startling fact: Americans consume close to 50 billion hamburgers a year, or roughly three burgers a week for every person in the U.S. There’s even a Hamburger Hall of Fame in Seymour, Wisconsin. There, America’s beloved meat patties encased in golden buns are paid proper homage. To help satisfy Mississippians' burger cravings, Ed’s Burger Joint in Hattiesburg began serving unique and, in some cases, gourmet burgers in 2016. Ed’s is doing its part to satisfy burger lovers in south Mississippi and more than a few area visitors.
The brainchild of Hattiesburg restaurateur Robert St. John, Ed’s was added to the Hardy Street lineup of eateries for one simple reason: his love of burgers.
"The one culinary constant that has endured my entire life is hamburgers," St. John told the Hattiesburg American following the opening two years ago. "I loved and ate them as a child and I love and eat them today. I love fries, onion rings, and tots, too."
It’s rare to find a burger these days that doesn’t resemble a flat, preformed sphere, but St. John has managed to create not just one, but 14 made-from-scratch specialty burgers composed of fresh, “real” beef, freshly baked buns, and homemade sauces that take each burger to a new level.
At my first Ed’s experience, I deliberated long and hard and finally chose the Jam Burger ($7.50), primarily because of the promised addition of bacon jam. I wasn’t disappointed with the thick grilled burger topped with grilled onions, shredded cheddar, and the promised layering of tangy bacon jam. I needed several napkins to finish the burger, a sure sign that a burger is worth its salt.
On my next visit, I decided to try something new. Ed’s Deluxe ($8.25) was an all-American version of a deluxe cheeseburger, made even more special by the addition of grilled onions, bacon, and perhaps one of the best homemade sauces I’ve ever sampled, one simply named Ed’s Grill Sauce.
Besides burgers and cheeseburgers that are anything but “regular,” just a few of Ed’s best-selling burgers include the Comeback ($7.95), a juicy burger topped with pepperjack, mushrooms, onion rings, jalapeños, and delicious Comeback Sauce; Chili-Cheeseburger ($7.50) a burger smothered in Texas-style chili, cheese, and grilled onions; El Magooey ($7.50) another three-napkin burger due to its stuffing of savory pimento cheese; Ed’s Melt ($8.50), an old-school take on a classic courtesy of melted Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and Ed’s Grill Sauce on Texas toast; Heavy Eddie ($11.45) consisting of a double stack of beef patties topped with cheese and here’s the kicker: a bun made from two grilled cheese sandwiches. As if that’s not enough goodness, crisp bacon, grilled onions, and Ed’s Grill Sauce complete the massive burger.
Last, and certainly not least, if Heavy Eddie isn’t heavy enough for you, upgrade to a Fat Ed ($13.75). It contains the same delicious ingredients of the Heavy, except there’s a triple serving of beef instead of a double.
To complement juicy, made-to-order burgers, the menu contains a number of tempting sides and appetizers that make perfect accompaniments. These include onion rings ($2.25), Ed’s fries or tots ($5) topped with nacho cheese, bacon, cheddar cheese, and ranch dressing; Buffalo chicken nachos ($8.75), jumbo chili cheese fries or tots ($7.95), and my personal pick, bacon jam and pimento cheese with crackers ($6.50).
Those looking for sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, and related items leave happy. Menu choices include the chicken tender basket and fries ($8.50), chicken jam sandwich ($7.75), grilled ham and cheese sandwich ($5.50); bowl of chili ($5.25), small or big chopped salad ($4.75-$7.25), and Hub City dog ($7.75).
The perfect topping for any meal is a hand-dipped shake ($4.50-$5.50), Barq’s root beer float ($3.25), and my personal pick, house made frozen pops ($2.75). Made with real fruit, it’s a can’t-miss treat no matter the time of year.
The eclectic restaurant features a bright yellow and red metal exterior and an airy, equally colorful interior with a vintage vibe. Diners can sit inside at a cozy table or counter or move outdoors to patio tables and a spacious deck overlooking a game area and Hardy Street just a few feet away.
Ed’s is located at 3800 Hardy St. in Hattiesburg. Hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
I didn’t get the recipe for Ed’s bacon jam, but here’s one that’s almost as good. Even better, it lasts in the refrigerator for up to four weeks in an airtight container. It’s delicious on burgers, chicken, fish, or as an appetizer with crackers.
Crock-pot Bacon Jam
1-1/2 pounds sliced bacon, diced into small pieces
1 cup yellow onions, finely diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup brewed coffee
Cook bacon until browned, about 20 minutes. Drain fat (leave 1 tablespoon in pan) and transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Add onions and garlic to bacon fat in pan and cook until onions are translucent. Add apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet with a wooden spoon for a few minutes. Place bacon pieces back in pan and stir to combine.
Transfer mixture to a 6-quart Crock-pot and cook on high, uncovered, about 3.5 to 4 hours. Transfer to a food processor or blender and pulse until coarsely chopped. Let cool, then refrigerate in sealed container. Keeps up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.