It’s a noble quest to attempt to chomp the entire lineup of “best” burgers found in the Chester County area, and together, our Town Dish team is aiming to do just that.
The newest hot spot to grab your burger on-the-go is West Chester University’s food truck row, found situated along Church Street. Around lunchtime on any given weekday during the calendar school year, you’ll spy a hefty lineup of mobile food trucks lining the street (typically 7–10 on-wheels restaurants) — all of which are itching to serve up their signature (addictive) specials to you in a matter of minutes out their makeshift store fronts.
One of the newest burger-slinging kids on the block is the LJ’s Burger Shack, a sizeable, four-wheeled kitchen box that specializes in a Grilled Cheese Burger (plus, much more). Owned and operated by 24-year-old Lawrence J. Dunlap Jr. (nicknamed “LJ”), he crafts a deep roundup of fine-tuned comfort foods each day, many of which are styled after his family’s best recipes.
“I love experimenting with food, cooking and making up recipes,” shared LJ, when discussing the idea behind his Stuffed Burger — a third-pound beef patty stuffed in the center with mozzarella. As for his interestingly-topped hot dogs, some of those were conceptualized from when he was a kid.
“My great grandmother always made mashed potatoes, and the one time my sister [Heather Kimble, who also assists on the burger truck] put some on her hot dog — and, it was great,” shared LJ. Mashed potato-topped hot dogs are just one of the many options on the beefy dog roster. You can also spy homemade meat sauce, mac n’ cheese, and even mozzarella, marinara and pepperoni atop his franks.
But it’s his signature burger — the Cheese’s Prime — that we predict will develop a cult following; it’s a hybrid of his Stuffed Burger sandwiched between two grilled cheeses. All of LJ’s ingredients are fresh — he’s sculpting the ground beef into patties on-site, as he builds a beefy pocket around the exterior a glorious hunk of mozzarella. He’s grilling up each grilled cheese sandwich and burger solo, and then, crafting a perfectly-gluttonous sandwich tower for our enjoyment.
Biting into the LJ’s special is undeniably satisfying. The grilled cheese ‘wiches hold their own against the juicy and flavorful burger, with each component not becoming lost in the sea of cheese, beef and bread. The pocketed glob of cheese oozes out as your gobble your way through, and we can’t help but recall that there were some satisfactory moans let loose as we chomped our way through our tasting.
Before we called it a day (and sped home for nap), we asked the burger maverick about his favorite menu item: cheesesteak-topped french fries, he confessed. He grills up the meat, cheese and onions while frying up the fresh-cut fries, and as soon as the toppings are cooked to perfection, he loads the fried potatoes to the brims — no need for a sandwich bun here, folks.
Follow LJ’s Burger Shack on Facebook (by clicking here) and on Twitter (by clicking here). He posts daily updates on his whereabouts, so be sure to catch him in action — in the near future. LJ’s full menu is also available online at ljsburgershack.com.