There’s some kind of ever-present warmth at Kuby’s. The lighting comforts; the people glow; potato salad simmers. Sweater vests, once thought to be extinct, still keep patrons warm and cozy. As a whole, there’s a feeling when you’re inside Kuby's that you’ve stepped inside a painting of a restaurant. In a post-Christmas Kuby’s, stockings, tiny Christmas trees and Nutrcrackery-decor still hang out with the beer steins. As I look closely at the ice box, where German Chocolate and Nutella pies are quietly encased, part of me expects to see brush strokes.
Of course, the comforting aspect at Kuby’s extends to their food. Most of the menu is luminescent with the feeling of a myriad of grandmas’ (Omas, in this case) cooking. Speaking of: I’ve been going to Kuby’s for years, and, for some very stupid reason, I’ve never ordered the Fridkadellen. The Frikadellen is the German-style hamburger, and it will send churning locomotives of comfort through you, from your big toe to your hair. The sensation of eating Kuby's version of a burger is akin to:
- A hug from Santa Claus
- Putting on plush socks after a shower
- The bear skin Leonardo DiCaprio wears in The Revenant
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On a borderline-chilly weekday in Snider Plaza, I order the Frikadellen, adding cheese and bacon because it’s the holidays. The place moves fast around me: A pastrami sandwich is dropped in front of the gentleman on my right at the counter, another one to my left. Save for the holiday decor, it could be any year, time or place. For my burger, I chose potato salad over fries, too, because, dammit, we’re at Kuby’s. It shows up with a squishy bun that’s been lightly toasted, crinkle cut pickles, lettuce and a couple of tomato slices. Baby Swiss, melted perfectly, curtains the burger.
A first bite will provide that warmth I keep going on about: It has the flavor profile of a damn good meatloaf. Softened onions grace the patty, and it’s juicy. The seasonings are akin to smelling the steam coming off a homemade meat stew. Crisp bacon, not-too-thin, brings the meatloafiness together, which means it’s a must-add to the burger. I may or may not have dipped a small corner of a Frikadellen cross-section into my personal Heinz ketchup tub. Don’t judge, OK? I’m in a painting, remember. You might be convinced, halfway through this burger, that a relative of yours is in the kitchen making sandwiches of leftover meatloaf.
Kuby's is the beautiful place with the cuckoo clock in the dining room at 6601 Snider Plaza.