Stress Relief 2.0

The enduring appeal of the Herfy's burger.

Back before I grew pubes, there was a Herfy's hamburger restaurant on 35th Avenue Northeast, Wedgwood's main thoroughfare. It was later replaced by a Godfather's Pizza. Now, a strip mall containing a Starbucks occupies its footprint. Like Dick's, Dag's, and Kidd Valley, Herfy's used to be something of an iconic local burger joint, back before McDonald's all but gutted neighborhoods of homegrown patty flippers (and Starbucks began killing the local coffeehouse). Dag's and Herfy's eventually folded, leaving Kidd Valley, Dick's, and a few Johnny-come-latelies to put Seattle's signature on the round ground. Now Herfy's is back, in a handful of locations around town, though the current incarnation is in no way related to its predecessor. As Fred Schmidt, who closed the last of the original Herfy's on Evergreen Way in Everett, puts it: "The only thing they've got is the name." Call 'em Herfy's 2.0 Although the International District outpost I visited makes its home in the Uwajimaya food court, rest assured, Herfy's 2.0 doesn't serve Far Eastern fare. It still serves very affordable burgers, nowhere near as good as Kidd Valley or Red Mill, but definitely a notch up from Burger King or Mickey D's. And Herfy's 2.0 distinguishes itself from the chain gang–bangers by serving crinkle-cut french fries, which will always represent a significant step up from their skinnier, oilier brethren. (Though these crinkle-cuts were a bit bland—those little white packets of iodized salt came in mighty handy.) OK, so I wasn't blown away by Herfy's 2.0. But that's not to say the ID outpost didn't redeem itself in three very critical ways. One, the counter staff blasted radio-friendly hip-hop, loudly and unapologetically—Destiny's Child, Lil Wayne, and such. In any city but the Caucasian indie-rock capital of the world, this might be a tad annoying. Here, it's refreshing Ditto Herfy's peanut-butter milk shake. Peanut butter's not a glamorous substance—far from it. Unless, of course, it's swirled in a blender with ice cream, at which point it comes off as positively divine. Whatever was lacking in my sourdough bacon burger was made up for tenfold by that luscious peanut-butter shake. I'll never forget it: It was the shake of my dreams. But what ultimately made my Herfy's 2.0 experience a positive one was that it contained enough of the original Herfy's nostalgia to take me back to a happier place in life: childhood. I have a great deal of sympathy for people who had shitty childhoods; mine just so happened to be pleasant and virtually carefree—my most stressful moments coming on a Little League diamond or when someone complained that the paper I tried to hurl under their porch awning ended up in rainfall's way. In those moments, Herfy's was but a short walk away. Still is. Sort of.

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