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Back for More: The Big H Burger at Harold’s Diner

By • Jan 19th, 2011 • Category: Burger Blog

Regular readers may recall that I found one of my all-time Top 3 burgers at a 21-seat diner in Hilton Head Island, SC. That was June 2009, and I had waited an awfully long time for the stars to align once again for a return visit. It finally happened, and let me tell you, my burger brothers and sisters, Harold’s did not disappoint.


Now, I don’t have all that much to say about The Big H that I didn’t say before. It’s still in my all-time Top 3. It’s still griddled to perfection. The vibe at Harold’s is still a blast: the “cranky” owner who slings razor-sharp barbs at his customers as deftly as the top-notch diner grub. But, after 150+ articles here at cheese-burger.net, I seem to be unable to eat a burg without whipping out my camera, so think of this post as food porn: read the copy if you’re so inclined, but really, this one’s about the hot, steamy visuals.

I did overhear a few gems from Chuck during the lunchtime rush. As a couple of firefighters next to me settled up their bill, Chuck must have made a snarky comment. One of the smoke-eaters laughed and said, “I’ve been coming here too long.” Without skipping a beat, Chuck fired back, “I was thinking the same thing.”

Later, with a plate of hot food ready to serve, Chuck called out the name of a patron at one of the two-top tables. She simply signaled her presence and waited for her order to arrive. Chuck barked, “Don’t just stare at me, come get your damn food!”

One customer asked about Harold’s exceptional breakfast menu as the clock approached noon. “Breakfast?!? If you want breakfast, get your ass out of bed earlier!” was the delicate reply.

Chuck’s teaching his crew well, too. I caught the young lady working behind the bar with Chuck (who clearly has some serious cajones, to put up with that kind of work environment) giving the fill-out-your-own-order-and-check-the-appropriate-boxes speech to a newbie. She wrapped it up with a curt Harold’s-esque, “You don’t mark it, you don’t get it.”

And my favorite moment of this visit was a detail I noticed but didn’t have the stones to actually ask about, lest I become a target for Chuck’s wrath. Check this out:

That is a take-out order. Nothing unusual. Except that this one was scrawled in pencil. On a paper towel. And stuck to the mirror behind the bar… with half a slice of American cheese. Read it again. It’s from a family apparently calling from Knoxville, Tennessee!  I’ll wait while you look up how far away that is from Hilton Head, South Carolina.  Harold’s burger is so good that someone in the Ryan family phoned in their lunch order from 7 hours away.

By the way, here’s what it sounds like when they pick up the phone at Harold’s.

“Hello?”

“Oh, hi,  Is this Harold’s?”

“Harold’s dead.  Whaddya want?”

It’s like getting a comedy routine with a kick-ass burger.

As Chuck handed me my Big H (two half-pounders topped with American cheese, bacon, lettuce, onions, and mayo… on a truly world-class bun), I got a sneering, “Good luck with that.”

And good luck trying to find a burger that’s much better than the Big H at Harold’s. If you’re anywhere near the Carolina Lowcountry (or even not at all near… I’m talking to you, Ryan Family), do yourself a favor and hit Harold’s Diner. And maybe call ahead with your order. It’ll give those of us inside a good laugh.

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