Reading an article by Errol Laborde , editor of New Orleans Magazine brought back memories of my favorite hamburger place, Bud's Broiler.
I had my first Bud's Broiler hamburger at their Pelopidas St. location in Gentilly. My parents had just rented a house at 4206 Pauger St, second house from the corner of Pauger and Pelopidas. Bud's Broiler was just a half block from my home. I probably ate there several times a month. My favorite burger was their #4, with chili, chopped onions and grated fresh cheddar cheese about 1/2 inch thick, along with a chocolate shake and one of their fried pies for desert. Errol Laborde rated the #4 as the #1 burger of choice, though he preferred it with their special hickory sauce instead of chili.
As the years passed, I graduated from high school and joined the Navy, but whenever I was home on leave the first "fast food" restaurant I visited was Bud's. I eventually moved to Hawaii, and the Bud's Broiler on Pelopidas eventually closed. I would have liked to think it was because I was no longer a regular customer, but I believe the actual reason was the increase in crime in the neighborhood resulting in several robberies at the restaurant.
Bud's Broiler and the #4 burger were never out of my memory though. I would extol the virtues of the restaurant and the #4 to Sharon, my girlfriend, just about every time we ate a burger at a restaurant in Hawaii. On one of our trips to New Orleans, while visiting my mom and sister in Chalmette, we passed a Bud's Broiler that I believed had recently opened on Judge Perez Drive. Taking her there, for me, was probably equivalent to someone who had grown up in a more affluent neighborhood and lifestyle taking an out of state visitor to Galatoire's in the French Quarter for the first time.
My last visit to a Bud's Broiler was a few years before Katrina, at their original location on City Park Ave, near Delgado Community College. I had gone with my son Taylor, to the school to pick up some transcripts. Since it was around lunch time he suggested we go to the Burger King near the college. On the way, I saw the Bud's Broiler and told him we HAD to go there instead. I was dumbfounded when he told me he'd never eaten there the whole time he attended Delgado (in the culinary arts program no less). Taking him there for the first time, was just about as memorable for me as when he took his first steps or riding his bike without training wheels for the first time. Only in New Orleans can a meal evoke that kind of emotional experience.