Restaurant Name: City Diner
Ambiance: College Late Night
Name of the Burger Ordered: DIY Burger
Price of the Burger(s): $8.95 (inludes fries and a soda); beer is $3!
Size of the Burger: 8 oz
The Boot. Tulane Stadium. Der Rathskeller aka "The Rat." Institutions that are deep in Tulane lore. You'll be hard pressed to find a Tulane alum who doesn't have fond memories of late night pitchers, chicken fingers, and mozzarella sticks at The Rat. It was with great anticipation that we (mostly) Tulane alums returned to the mothership to rate The Rat's burger with two current undergrads as our guest raters (yes, we can still hang with the kids!). The look of The Rat (now called Der Rathskeller featuring City Diner) has changed significantly since a renovation of the University Center building after Hurricane Katrina. What was a dive-y watering hole is now a legit, nicely polished diner. Regardless of the name, the vibe still screams FUN, with live music, $3 20oz Andygator on tap (no, not a typo), and a packed house even at the "early" hour of 7 pm (when us olds we were there).
That said, Burger Meet has a strictly enforced 2-drink limit when rating burgers (Otherwise Krystal and Camellia Grill might just top our list). As one can imagine, very few people have actually HAD food at The Rat while under the 2-drink limit, and it brings into clarity why we may have had some fuzzy late-night memories of "delicious" Rat cuisine. The burger was...er....um...(we really wanted to love it)...not the best we've had. In all fairness, the burger isn't a Rat specialty, as most opt for the aforementioned cheese sticks, chicken tenders, or just some beers. But free live music, $3 beers, and cheese sticks in a college atmosphere is a pretty great way to spend a Thursday night. And at 3 am when nothing else is open after a night at The Boot, the burger probably would taste better too.
Note: City Diner is open 7 pm - 7 am, making it a great option for those nights (and late nights) where you just don't want to go to bed hungry.
DIY Burger: 4.39
It's soft and squishy, which are probably its two best qualities. It also has a sweet taste to it, which we actually quite enjoyed. One of the current students said it is the same bun used on the Diner's breakfast sandwich (which he said was an excellent sandwich, btw). All in all, not bad -- but it certainly seems like the bun would be a better fit for sausage and egg than ground chuck and tomato.
Simply put: the patty is grilled meat. We mention this because even if all you do is take meat right out of the grocery store wrapper and put it on the grill, it still has SOME value. At 8 oz's there is a lot of it too. But any (and we do mean ANY) seasoning would be welcome.
Bun to Meat Ratio: 4.2
The meat was huge! The bun was huge! But when combined, it was tough to get an ideal bite.
Standard Toppings: 6.5
This was our highest (food-based) rating and the best part of the burger. You get to pick any two toppings and we picked bacon and cheddar cheese. The bacon was everyone's favorite topping, and the highlight of a relatively average burger. The lettuce and tomato held their own as well (which as we've seen from our other adventures, can be a hard thing to do).
We think that we got two different batches of fries here, so there was a wide range of opinion (for our nerdy math majors, standard deviation was a soaring 2.3). One group got cold/limp fries (sad face), while other raters got a crispy, piping hot batch. Definitely plain-Jane fries, but they were thick with plenty of potato in each bite.
We mentioned the mozzarella sticks, right? And the $3 beers? And the live music and fun crowd? Let's just move on then.
We think you'll get what you're expecting.
The Rat is definitely suited for a college budget. Pretty much anything on the menu is under $10, which includes the burger with fries + drink. Man do we miss college prices. That said, you get what you pay for.
Our food came out quickly, though the students said that's not typically the case late night. The manager was fantastic and when we didn't grab cups for our soft drink (we didn't know it came with a drink), he walked over to our table with them when he could have gotten away without us even knowing about it. It's a service counter, and the cashier was annoyed when one rater didn't understand a question that was asked, so the cashier comically just decided what she wanted the answer to be and put that in the order. But would you be patient when dealing with drunk Tulane kids all night? We'll cut her some slack. But debbie downer points for NOT humoring us when we asked if we still look like the pictures from our student ID (from 10+ years ago).
You should definitely come back here for the beers and vibe! Unfortunately this category only applies to the burger itself. While we may not make a return trip in the near future, if you're 19 years old, it's 3 am, you're paying with Greenbucks your parents bought, and the place was out of everything on the menu EXCEPT the burger -- it probably gets you through 'til morning (when we hope they've got some of those delicious breakfast sandy's on the grill!)
Want to see how City Diner ranks? Check out our overall Burger Meet rankings.
Want to see how these rank overall? Check out our RANKINGS.