As we dig deeper into our favorite spots for our list of the best hamburgers in Sapporo, we bring you to Route Nine, here in Sapporo – the best city in the world.
As an semi-illiterate foreigner, I often find my favorite restaurants in Sapporo by happenstance. And my love affair with Route Nine started just like that; I was riding toward Susukino one day in a taxi, and I spotted this place out the passenger window.
Even in the daytime (it was afternoon when I rode by), all of the familiar American logos on the neon signs called to me. I looked it up on my phone and I made a mental note to come explore this place – and I did.
Route Nine is about a five or 10 minute walk from Nakajima Koen station. But the first time I came here (and many times after), I took the tram from Odori station. The tram brings you even closer to Route Nine than the subway, and since it cold (and really snowing) the first time I came here, that shorter walk made a difference.
Route Nine is basically a tribute to American diners. And I assume Route Nine is a reference to Route 66, or some equivalently famous American road way.
A proper American diner off of Route 66 would be a one story building, likely with a big dusty parking lot. This Route Nine here in Sapporo is in some typical, somewhat beat-up, low-rise building. The setting does not remind me of home, and yet, I admire the spirit of this place. And I find it a charming (if not a little ironic) place to hang out.
Is it really an American diner? No. It is a kitchy send up of that kind of that American vision (which is also essential kitchy). But it is not a bad imitation. And… the food is very good.
Route Nine does a basic hamburger, if that is your thing. Sure. But they make our list not just because of the basics and the Ebay-sourced American signaling, but because they do some original burgers that are totally satisfying.
I think I have been here 10 or 20 times. And tonight when I rolled in, there were some changes to the menu. They used to do “mini-burgers,” so you could try two or three little ones. I did that mini thing the first few times, but then I quickly settled on the Route Nine burger, which is (of course) a burger with spaghetti sauce on it. Is that typical American? No, it is not. But it is always an amazing combination, and it was again tonight.
I used to get a plate of onion rings, along with a beer and my favorite saucy burger, but alas, the rings did not make the cut in the latest version of the menu. Am I disappointed? Maybe a little. Who wouldn’t be? I don’t even like onion rings that much, but Route Nine is the kind of place where they go down easy. So tonight I unceramonously switched to french fries. And as you can see, they were wedge cut (which everyone knows is a superior way to eat French fries) and I managed to really enjoy myself once again.
Route Nine also has a big screen TV behind the counter. Typically when I would arrive, some extremely mainstream American movie would be playing. Usually “Pirates of the Caribbean” (Part II???) or “Back to the Future.” I don’t even like TVs in restaurants (not usually), but I like the cheesy familiarity of having those movies on the background while I eat; it takes the “American” thing completely over the top. And to be Frank, I appreciate it.
Tonight as I came in the screen was black. I am obnoxious enough to ask about the movie situation, and the nice lady making the burgers flipped on Amazon Prime and handed me the remote. I put on some Minions movie I’d never seen before. I wasn’t overly interested, but it serves it’s purpose.
I like this place. I have brought a lot of friends here. It’s fun and delicious. You should try it.
And… it’s open late; so you can swing thru at 10 or 11 PM and still get a burger fix.
And if you really know what you’re doing, you’ll get it started here, and then roll over to Beer Inn Mugishutei (which is about five minutes away) for the second part of the night. I am on my way, right, now.