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Hudson's Hamburgers

207 E Sherman Ave, Coeur d'Alene, ID - (208) 664-5444
Posted By Michael Stern on May 21, 2008 11:33 AM
“Pickle and onion?” the counter man will ask when you order a hamburger, a double hamburger, or a double cheeseburger at Hudson’s, a counter-only diner that has been a Coeur d’Alene institution since 1907 when Harley Hudson opened a quick-eats lunch tent on the town’s main drag.

Your garnish selection is called out to grill man Todd Hudson, Harley’s great-grandson, who slices the raw onion to order, using his knife blade to hoist the thin, crisp disk from the cutting board to the bun bottom; then, deft as a Benihana chef, he cuts eight small circles from a pickle and arrays them in two neat rows atop the onion. When not wielding his knife, Todd hand-forms each burger, as it is ordered, from a heap of lean ground beef piled in a gleaming silver pan adjacent to his griddle. All this happens at warp speed as customers enjoy the mesmerizing show from the sixteen seats at Hudson’s long counter and from the small standing area at the front of the restaurant where new arrivals await stool vacancies.

Each patty is cooked until it develops a light crust from the griddle but retains a high amount of juicyness inside. One in a bun makes a balanced sandwich. Two verge on overwhelming beefyness. Chef Hudson sprinkles on a dash of salt, and when the hamburger is presented, you have one more choice to make: which condiment? Three squeeze bottles are deployed adjacent to each napkin dispenser along the counter. One is hot mustard, the other is normal ketchup, the third is Hudson’s very spicy ketchup, a thin orange potion for which the recipe is a guarded secret. “All I can tell you is that there is no horseradish in it,” the counterman reveals to an inquisitive customer.

There are no side dishes at all: no French fries, no chips, no slaw, not a leaf of lettuce in the house. And other than the fact that a glass case holds slices of pie for dessert, there is nothing more to say about Hudson’s. In nine decades, it has honed a simple perfection.
5 star rating
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Posted By D Nic on January 15, 2012 4:53 PM
First off: I have no vested interest in or relation to either of the burger joints I'm about to discuss. I'm simply a shameless burger fiend and want to toss in my opinion.
Like some of you, I'm always (ALWAYS) on the prowl for an excellent burger. When I moved to the Post Falls area, it was one of the first non-urgent things I looked for. Many of the locals up here recommended Hudson's so my family and I gave it several tries. Bottom line: they serve a consistently decent burger (I've eaten there 10 or 12 times over the last year and it's been the same pretty much every time). While the burgers have been consistent, they're NOT great and definitely not the "best burger in Coeur d'Alene". Hudson's is a long-standing tradition operated by a local family - and they're all very nice folks who present a DECENT burger. But that's about it--the burgers are decent. Here's why I say this: #1 - While the meat may be ground fresh each day, the patties are very small. #2 - They tend to overload the incredibly small grill, which produces a steamed burger - meaning, you don't get that tasty meat-crust that is so desirable on a great burger - this results in a bland burger (unless you add a copious amount of their sauces). Good burgers don't have to have a lot of sauce, IMHO. #3 - Onions and pickles are the only options they offer. #4 - the buns are oh-so-run-of-the-mill buns and they don't heat or toast them. Now. . . Unrelated to the burgers themselves, but still a factor for me, is that they don't offer french fries. Pie, yes. Fries, no. :-/
We've tried burgers at 5 or 6 places up here -- out of all of them, we prefer Roger's Burgers. They're plenty big, cooked properly, and come with all the goop/fixin's most folks want on a burger (Hudson's only offers pickles or onions). Plus, the fries at Roger's are pretty great, too. (Disclaimer: I don't know anyone personally at Roger's and no one in my family works there - this is just the opinion of a foodie family). Anyway, I'm not saying to stop going to Hudson's or that their burgers are bad. . . their burgers are okay and I think it's always good to support our small business owners. If you haven't been to Hudson's, then I'd recommend giving them a try at least once and decide for yourself. But if you're looking for a GREAT burger, I personally recommend Roger's Burgers. (FWIW: I still haven't found an earth-shatteringly excellent burger joint up here yet - but I'm gonna keep hunting for one. . .)
2 star rating
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Hamburgers
Cheeseburgers

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Posted By Dennis on August 31, 2011 2:35 PM
It's been 20 years since I was there but I've never had a better hamburger. It's 300 miles from here but I'm tempted to go to Coeur d'Alene just to visit Hudson's.
5 star rating
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hamburger

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Posted By Jon Erler on June 10, 2011 8:49 PM
I followed this Roadfood tip after a hiking trip. Sure enough, it's right there, downtown and easy to find. There was standing room only at 2PM. Still, it was well worth the trip. Despite a line, service came quickly and there were plenty of spots for sitting in the park across the road.

Best of all: a burger with great quality, at a price less than the fast-food places. If you're traveling through the area, get off the interstate and get to downtown.
4 star rating
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hamburger

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Posted By Robert Harris on April 16, 2007 2:20 PM
My family and I went skiing up in the Coeur d'Alene area last winter and one day while taking a break from the slopes we decided to visit downtown. We were in the little shopping mall across the street from Hudson's, unbeknownst to me! We walked out of the mall and that picture from across the street says it all... I could see "BURGERS Since 1907", had no idea what it was. I told my wife, anyone who has been making hamburgers for 100 years is making one DANG good burger!

And I am very happy to say, I was not disappointed. I loved it so much, I had to make a special trip BACK to Hudson's just for another burger before leaving town. The melted cheese, spicy ketchup and mustard are all this burger needs. Oh, except the extra napkins! I try my best to emulate that burger at home and have come close, but it's still not the same. If you are ever in Coeur d'Alene, you must visit Hudson's!
5 star rating
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Posted By Don Nelson on January 15, 2007 11:18 AM
I've gone to Hudson's now and then for about 65 years. They have the best hamburgers in the world. There is no fluffery. Pickle, onion, or cheese are all that they put on them. The meat is locally raised lean beef especially prepared for them. I'm not sure if it is salt they put on it; we always thought it was some kind of secret stuff. A lot of locals are in there, and half of the fun is the chatting about local stuff that goes on.

I went to high school with Roger Hudson, the father of Todd Hudson, who runs it now, and I ate there when Roger's father Howard ran it. A few years ago a McDonalds was put in half a block away. It lasted about a year. Hudson's would be packed and one person would be in McDonalds. Shows you how savvy the people are in Coeur d'Alene.

By the way, you can buy a container of the magic sauce. I don't remember how much it costs. I recall that when I was a youth we would watch in great anticipation when a tourist would load up his burger with the sauce thinking it was ketchup. It was quite sporting when the steam came out of his ears!
5 star rating
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