September 3, 2021
It’s been a while since I last visited Mr. Bartley’s and a long, long time since my first visit. But I’m pleased to report it is still going strong. The normally overly crowded dining room with communal tables isn’t particularly pandemic-friendly. But they have adapted adding a number of outdoor tables right on Mass Ave. So now you can comfortably enjoy one of Boston’s favorite burgers.
Today I went with the Kamala Harris burger. I am pretty sure this used to be named for Mayor Menino, but the names change with the times. I’m left wondering how long the Ted Kennedy burger has been off the menu. The burger formerly named for Mayor Menino is a basic burger topped with bacon, egg, and cheese. I’ve been eating it for a decade or two, long before “brunch burgers” were a common thing, and I still always enjoy it.
The named burgers come with a large side of fries, or you can upgrade to very excellent onion rings for a little more. If you build your own burger, you just get chips, but of course you can upgrade to fries or rings and you really should. To wash it down you can’t go wrong with a frappe. For those of you not from New England this is what you call a milk shape and is pronounced FRAP not FRAP-A. (I’m talking to you here mom.)
Today I went with the Boston Cream Pie frappe. I’m not sure why they call it this since the only thing it has in common with a Boston cream pie is chocolate, but really who cares because it is awesome. They start with their basic chocolate frappe and blend in banana and graham crackers. Then they top it with whipped cream and a cherry. It is sooo good.
Bartley’s isn’t cheap. A burger, fries, and a small frappe that’s actually quite big, will run you about $25. But you will not leave hungry. Six hours and a desperately needed nap later, I’m still full. More importantly, as the sign says, it’s a “Harvard landmark since 1960” and has won plenty of awards for best burger in Boston over the years. In recent years, it’s taken a back seat to some of the great restaurant burgers like Alden and Harlow or Craigie, but in my mind it remains Boston’s most iconic burger and definitely worth a visit.