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Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Nugget's Awful Awful Burger

For my birthday in 2009 I decided to take a quick trip to Reno to photograph vintage neon signs--my favorite pastime. I also wanted a classic dining experience, so I used Google and found out about the Awful Awful Burger.

The chain of Nugget casinos started by Dick Graves and his general manager John Ascuaga have been serving up the Awful Awful Burger since 1955. On that trip I tried the Awful Awful at Rosie's Cafe deep inside the massive John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks. The restaurant is large and quite nice, other than the usual garish casino carpets. According to a comment on Chowhound, the burger is served there the way it was originally served, as a double with two 1/4 pound patties. It comes with a choice of sides.

20090927 The Awful Awful Burger

I returned to Reno less than a month later, and this time had the Awful Awful at the little diner in the back of the small Nugget on the main strip of downtown Reno, Virginia St. Unlike Rosie's Cafe, this place had the classic feel I was looking for, with a small counter and stools. The diner is open 24 hours a day. The Awful Awful there is served as one large 1/2 pound patty, and served on top of an enormous basket of French fries. I saw several baskets of fries on the counter that looked untouched when I went up to the cash register to order. I ate quite a few fries with my burger, but also left my basket looking as though I hadn't had any at all. They must throw away hundreds of pounds of French fries every week at the greasy spoon.

20091021 The Nugget Diner

20091021 The Awful Awful Burger

I definitely preferred the burger at the little Nugget. It was very satisfying, although I wouldn't go as far as some people have in saying it's the best burger I've ever had--no way would I rank a well-done burger that high. But it was very good. The atmosphere was great too, and would be even more so had I gone late at night after a few beers, rather than for lunch. If you're looking for a family atmosphere, then Rosie's Cafe is the better bet, but if you want the feel of old Reno, then the little Nugget diner is the way to go.


walterworld said...

Nice post, you covered the Reno signage very well!

Thanks for the tour :)

Kelly said...

I love the Nugget in downtown Reno! This place and CalNeva across the street are my favorite places to gamble! I've seen the Awful Awful advertised, but I have yet to try it - will have to do so next time I am in town. The "Ass Kicker" served in the bar in the plastic sip jugs are decently priced, mediocre in taste, but not bad :)

Jake said...

I'm thinking of getting an Awful Awful this Friday when I'm in the area. I've had one before. They are cheap, awful big and awful good. YUM!

DennisCMyers said...

According to Dwayne Kling's encyclopedia of gambling in Reno, the Nugget was opened by an investment group headed by John Hickok. In 1953 partners Jim Kelly and Dick Graves bought the place and they began selling the Awful Awful Sandwich. John Asquaga was not involved. In 1955 Graves and Kelly ended their partnership, with Kelly keeping the Reno Nugget and Graves building the Sparks Nugget, which he eventually developed in a much more elaborate property. The Sandwich was sold at both locations. Today the Reno Nugget is owned by Rick Heaney, who also owns the Wolf Den near UNR and the Sandwich is sold at all three properties.