It’s no wonder that a lot of Filipinos who migrate to the States choose Hawaii (or California) as their new home. It’s not surprising, as Native Hawaiians also share a somewhat similar ethnic background, have that same openness and hospitality which they call the “Aloha Spirit”, appreciate the traditional values of having a close knit ohana, and our unhealthy fascination with Spam. We also share a love for good food in general, which is probably how Teddy’s Bigger Burgers ended up on our shores.
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers got its start in the backyard cookouts of owners Ted Tsakiris and Rich Stula in Hawaii. The mates had a passion for enjoying good burgers, but couldn’t understand why there weren’t any fast food restaurants that offered the same quality of food like theirs in a quick service environment. And so, the two teamed up to reinvent the burger joint, which started with a simple menu of burgers, shakes, and fries.
You can find Teddy’s on the third floor of Greenbelt 3, right across from Bollywood. You can’t miss it with the bright neon lights and smell of grilled meat wafting out from the kitchen.
I haven’t had a burger in a long while, so I thought I’d ease into it by decimating an order of their Waikiki Tuna Salad (₱298/Solo, ₱468/To Share) to start. The refreshing salad is a combination of mixed greens, chunks of watermelon and sweet beets, chopped tomatoes, pineapple tidbits and olive dust and cracked pepper, served with a tangy vinaigrette and a fillet of honey glazed pepper crusted seared tuna on top. Yes. That portion to share? All me.
The “Hawaiian Steak” is also a staple in every Filipino home, with varieties ranging from original to oven-roasted turkey, to tocino. Meat-in-a-can is a no-no in my household (self-imposed), so the Spam Fries (₱268) were a treat! Served in the tin can it came in, Spam-frites and fries are deep-fried and presented with three kinds of dip: sweet honey mustard, spiced ketchup (which has a curry flavor to it), and a spicy sriracha aioli. Mix and match the Spam-frites and fries with the different dipping condiments and come up with your favorite combination – I find the spiced ketchup and spicy sriracha aioli to be pretty spot on.
Teddy’s milkshakes sure bring all the boys (and girls!) to the yard – seriously, I won’t be surprised if that’s all people order there this summer. This stuff is really thick and goopy – it’s a challenge to get at this through a straw!
You can skip dessert after having a taste of Teddy’s Salted Caramel Cheesecake Milkshake (₱258). Give everything a good mix to get the salted caramel off the bottom, break up the chunks of cheesecake hanging in suspended animation, and mix in the whipped cream, cheesecake crumble, and rainbow sprinkles on top! This drink is a little too sweet for my taste, but hey, if you’re a salted caramel fan – go have at it!
My milkshake of choice is the simpler Thick Chocolate Shake (₱188), with it’s soft ice cream consistency and just the right amount of sweetness. Bring your sweetheart, get two straws, and split a burger and fries like how they did in the ’50s, similar to what you’d read in the classic Archie comics.
When I initially ordered the burgers, so casual-like, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. They are serious when they say they’re big. All of Teddy’s burgers come in three sizes – Big, Bigger, and Biggest – and here I was thinking I could probably eat half of two Bigger burgers. I couldn’t even make a dent. All of the Original and Specialty burgers use fluffy potato buns and 100% ground chuck steep proprietary ground patties with Teddy’s Gourmet Burger Seasoning that are cooked medium well and stacked with special sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles, unless you request otherwise.
The most popular Specialty burger at Teddy’s is their Bacon Me Crazy (₱347/Big, ₱427/Bigger, ₱467/Biggest), using double-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, cream cheese and honey in addition to all the other seasonings and vegetables. Even getting your mouth around the monstrosity for a bite takes work. Delicious, delicious work.
The messier burger was the Bleu Cheese Bacon (₱324/Big, ₱404/Bigger; ₱444/Biggest), which had your stacked veg, rashers of double-smoked bacon, and bleu cheese – each bite sent a thin stream of special sauce and bleu cheese juice dribbling down my chin and hands… wait, what are we talking about again?
Another favorite at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers are their Hawaiian BBQ Spareribs (₱298/3 pieces, ₱498/6 pieces, ₱698/9 pieces). Sticky, smokey, and sweet, these tender baby back ribs are braised then grilled before being drizzled with homemade BBQ sauce. The meat falls away from the fat with just a little nudge of a fork – this is my definition of finger licking good!
Walking in and ordering a meal at Teddy’s feels like stepping into an episode of Hawaii Five-O (the classic 1960’s version not the annoying remake). I like how their patties are big, but not too thick, so you aren’t left with a dislocated jaw or deconstructing your meal into manageable pieces, and just how the flavors and sizes are so American (read: BIG) that this has now become my new standard for what constitutes a good burger.
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers is located on the 3rd Floor of Greenbelt 3, Esperanza St, Ayala Center, Makati and open daily from 11am to 9pm.