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Quest for the Best: B-Bop's

One of Des Moines' favorite home-grown burgers is first up on my Iowa list.

"Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?"

The Platters were in the middle of asking me this question as I pulled up to one of B-Bop's two drive-thru remote ordering stations on a cold and wet Iowa afternoon. With no indoor seating at all but two of its seven central Iowa locations, those hungry for nostalgia and beef must choose between grabbing your to-go bag from the driver's side window, or having your passenger take care of the honor. This could pose a serious dilemma to a single driver, hungry in line with multiple other single drivers. Does he choose the shorter passenger side lane and awkwardly lean across his lonely cabin to pay for and receive his dinner for one, or wait a few minutes longer and save himself some embarrassment?

Thankfully, I did not have to make this choice as my wife, still searching for employment in our new home state, took this journey with me on this day. And there wasn't much of a line, but I chose to let my wife receive the order because she does not eat cheeseburgers and finds my quest unhealthy and responsible for 15 pounds of recent weight gain. This was punishment for her negativity. A penalty I would regret, as I always do, for weeks to come.

The menu was a little more extensive than I expected for a burger stand. Along with seven different meat and cheese combinations (some including BBQ and bacon), one could also choose chicken, chili, fish or, as I would expect in Iowa, a pork fritter. I knew what I was going for, so I didn't have to spend much time deciding.

Seemingly, since the day it opened in 1988, B-Bop's has been voted Cityview's Best Of award for best local burger. This is fairly impressive, especially if you consider it continues to earn the public's praise even after newer, trendier establishments like Zombie Burger have entered the scene in recent years.

So, who put the Bop in B-Bop's (do-wop-she-bop)? According to their website, the 50s themed restaurant was founded by Bob Johnson, a successful fast-food franchise for Mr. Quick (insert TWSS joke here) who was fascinated by the double drive-thru trend gaining popularity in portions of the Sun-Belt and felt he could be successful with the concept in Des Moines. The first B-Bop's location was opened at 1500 E Euclid Avenue in 1988 and you can still drive through there to this day.

After receiving my order, and a few harshly worded reprimands from my wife, I merged into traffic coming from the other side of the building and exited as Bobby Day began telling those still in line about a little robin who rocked in the tree tops, all the day long.

Could this Des Moines institution live up to my high standards or fulfil my criteria for a quality cheeseburger? Let's find out.

This is B-Bop's

The Order

As tempting as the other items on B-Bop's varied menu were, and I may come back at one point to test the pork fritter, I remained true to the Quest and ordered their ½ pound (Double) Cheeseburger with all the fixins and fries.

Meat -€” The first bite was a disappointing one for me, who had no memory of my first visit almost 17 years ago but high hopes for such a popular local burger chain. Although you could detect a hint of open flame cooking, not much else about the meat was very memorable. In fact, the sandwich lacked any of the qualities I outlined last week, instead delivering two dry and flavorless ¼ pound patties.

Sorry, Cityview readers. I'm not feeling you on this one.

Meat Score -€” 5/10

Cheese -€” The cheese was...well, it was there. They did adhere to the proper meat-to-cheese ratio I look for in a dual patty burger, but the American slices didn't really add anything more than calories in my sandwich. I've learned a cheese bonds with meat better when more grease is present, which is most likely the problem here, but it was disappointing to me. Which is strange as I am rarely disappointed by cheese.

Cheese Score -€” 5/10

Bun -€” The third item in review was just as bland and boring as the first two. I don't ask much from the starches on this list, but somehow it also failed to impress me even a little.

Bun Score -€” 5/10

Toppings and Sauce -€” If this were an actual category in my burger reviews, B-Bop's score would be elevated by their abundant use of fresh vegetables and tangy sauce, as they were the star of the sandwich. But I do not, as it is in direct conflict of my burger directive that states, "...salad items shall adorn a burger in a complimentary, non-dominant fashion only."



Mediocre scoring and sour notes aside, I actually didn't hate this burger and could even see myself eating it again if I were hungry and it was convenient. But I just couldn't find anything special about it. I wanted to, and it took me longer to write this review than any in the past as I searched for something redeeming to write about, but if I am not honest to you, then what good is my opinion?

If you are a fan of B-Bop's, please, tell me what I'm missing.