The Ranger burger is a feat of meat engineering.
How a person could make something of its magnitude and still have it taste delicious is beyond me. And yet, it exists.
Ranger Burger, 464 Highway 26, Cusseta, is the latest iteration of a restaurant that’s held a special place in the stomachs and memories of Fort Benning’s soldiers for generations.
The old place was Four Winds, and Susan and Donald Cox opened that restaurant in 1979, moving to the Hwy. 26 location in 1992. Its feature attraction: the Ranger burger.
Over the years, it’d become a tradition for Army Rangers to consume one of those massive burgers when they made their transition into the Special Operations ranks. Attempts to revive and lease the property since 2013 haven’t stuck, but Army veterans Joey Hancock and Ryan Sikes are hoping it’s different this time.
Benning soldiers were holding a meeting in a partially walled off dining and bar area when we arrived. A small group of diners came through the doors just as the Ledger-Enquirer’s video extraordinaire Mike Haskey and I took our seats at a long table in the main dining room near the window. It’s a beautiful place.
We placed our orders: two Ranger burgers and six wings. It was 50 cent Wing Wednesday, so we figured why not.
There are a few differences between this version of the Ranger burger and the old. Previously, the old burger featured two 8-ounce ground beef patties, two slices of cheese and two strips of bacon on a large bun. This newer version has four 4-ounce ground beef patties, four pieces of cheese and the bacon.
The new version comes served on a massive brioche bun that is branded with the Ranger Burger logo before it comes to the table. It is a massive, shiny and pretty burger. You’ll see heads turn as a server brings it from the kitchen to your table. You’ll want to snap a photo or two of this behemoth.
After you take your pictures, you now have to solve your next problem — how on earth are you going to take a bite? It barely fit in my hands. My burger was even larger than normal because I opted for sauteed onions rather than raw.
A less self-conscious person might have dived headlong into a bite. But I really didn’t want my nose poking into one of those patties or end up with mustard on my mustache or even worse — beef juice in my beard.
With some quick calculus and directional nibbling, I began. After a while, you’re able to get a bite of everything. I never had an old burger, so I can’t compare the two. But this one is delicious. The
four-ounce patties were constructed thinly enough to prevent any undercooking. It also gives the beef a bit of a crispy crust. It’s a meat sweet spot. There’s no pink in the middle, but it’s not dry or overcooked. It’s juicy.
The gooey cheese-to-meat ratio is excellent. The lettuce is crisp. The tomatoes were fresh, and the bacon is crunchy. The bun is able to withstand all the holding and moving and biting. This big burger didn’t fall apart into a disassembled mess.
With all that meat and cheese, you might forget the hand-cut fries that come with it — you shouldn’t. They were large, well-seasoned and just slightly crisp. You don’t need ketchup.
If you find yourself there and don’t want a hamburger, the wings might be your move. You won’t end up with massive amounts of sauce on your finger, so wet wing fans might not be pleased. But they were a little spicy and the ranch served with them is creamy.
I eventually surrendered to the burger. I’d eaten about half, I think. It was hard to tell with a burger that big. I ate the rest of it later that night. Even with veggies removed and after a microwave reheating, that burger was still good.
For the two burgers, fries, drinks and wings, we spent about $36. Next time I visit, I might just go with the Jr. Ranger burger. Maybe I could finish that one.
Address: 464 Highway 26, Cusseta, Georgia
Hours: Wednesday-Thursday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – Midnight; Sunday: Noon – 5p.m.