Hook and Ladder Fire Station No. 13
1313 California Ave Salt Lake City, UT 84104
Ordered: mushroom & bacon cheeseburger with English fries.
As you know, I have had many a burger in my day. But only rarely have I had an “experience” when eating burgers. But when my wife and I went to Hook and Ladder we had an experience.
I recently found a new store called NPS where they sell dented boxes of cereal and random things I don’t need at discount prices. Obviously this is my kind of store. After not spending nearly enough time there my wife and I were hungry so we decided to have dinner at a burger place I’d heard of called Hook and Ladder Fire Station No. 13 (I think everyone just calls it hook and ladder). We immediately loved the vibe; an old diner feel, but with history. The walls are plastered with black and white photos of fire fighters and the seating is all old antique benches that I could imagine in an old fire station. I don’t claim to know the whole story but this location apparently used to be a fire station, thus the name. However, all that resides in this location today is a burger place and a floral shop. It was a bit quiet in the restaurant so I put a dollar in the jukebox and enjoyed some Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The staff was grateful, singing along and tapping their feet. I had a good burger with a thick slice of ham on it and fries and my wife had some really amazing fish and chips. Serious, really amazing. We left with a “bye hon,” from one of the women behind the bar.
Let me just say that I enjoy a middle aged woman calling me ‘hon’. I do, I just like it. When the hipster 25 year old waiter with half his head shaved calls my wife ‘hon’ it just doesn’t strike home like they think it does, it comes off as creepy. The lovely staff at Hook and Ladder are NOT creepy and they welcome everyone happily and gratefully. This is becoming a relic of the past and is almost never seen anymore. I’m so glad it still exists in some corners.
Yes, I know I breezed past my burger review, I know. That’s because my story isn’t over.
The next day I somehow convinced my wife into checking out the NPS store again. Like I said, I didn’t spend nearly enough time there. When we were done there it was around lunch time and wouldn’t you know it we found ourselves at Hook and Ladder again. We walked in, only the 2nd time ever being there and the woman behind the bar say “Oh hey!” like we were old friends. “I’m so glad you’re back, hon. What’ll you have?” I felt like a regular after my second visit, so of course as per tradition I put another dollar in the jukebox and we all tapped our feet and sang along.
This time I had a bacon mushroom cheeseburger with English fries, which I think us Yank’s call hushpuppies. The burger was really good, about what you should expect from a greasy diner burger. Always good, and never good for you. Especially for the price, this is a very good value. My wife refuses to be an adult so she got a grilled cheese with lattice fries, which she loved.
Halfway through our meal an older gentleman, apparently the owner of the shop, came to our table and told us: “before you leave, I have something I want to give you.” . . . . . ok. I had no idea what to expect. So after our meal, we went to the bar. I expected to get a free soft serve ice cream cone. But the man took us outside and across the parking lot to the floral shop. Wasn’t expecting that at all! Apparently he runs the diner as well as the floral/antique shop. He walked us up to the rotating flower display, turned to my wife and said “pick one, it’s yours”. Completely stunned, she chose a pink bouquet and we spent a half hour looking at all the knick knacks in the shop. Admittedly, I don’t spend much time in antique shops but this shop has really cool stuff, most of which is fire station related.
It goes without saying that we were floored by this experience. For that reason alone, I will be back. Valentines date anyone? I hear there’s a great floral shop right next door. Are there better burgers out there? Of course, but Hook and Ladder isn’t trying to be anything other than what they are. They have no desire to compete with the $15 burgers out there. They just want to give you a great experience and a good burger at a good price, and that’s exactly what you get. Thank you Hook and Ladder for the great food and even better experience. We will be back soon!