Hudson’s Hamburgers

Review by: Jane & Michael Stern

“Pickle and onion?” the counter man will ask when you order a hamburger, a double hamburger, or a double cheeseburger at Hudson’s. Those are the options at this counter-only diner that has been a Coeur d’Alene institution since 1907 when Harley Hudson opened a quick-eats lunch tent on the town’s main drag.

Your garnish selection is called out to the 5th-generation Hudson chef, who slices the raw onion to order, using his knife blade to hoist the thin, crisp disk from the cutting board to the bun bottom; then, deft as a Benihana chef, he cuts eight small circles from a pickle and arrays them in two neat rows atop the onion. When not wielding his knife, the chef hand-forms each burger, as it is ordered, from a heap of lean ground beef piled in a gleaming silver pan adjacent to his griddle. All this happens at warp speed as customers enjoy the mesmerizing show from the sixteen seats at Hudson’s long counter and from the small standing area at the front of the restaurant where new arrivals await stool vacancies. Hudson’s is always crowded.

Each patty is cooked until it develops a light crust from the griddle but retains a high amount of juiciness. One in a bun makes a balanced sandwich. Two verge on beef overload. Chef Hudson sprinkles on a dash of salt, and when the hamburger is presented, you have one more choice to make: which condiment? Three squeeze bottles are deployed adjacent to each napkin dispenser along the counter. One is hot mustard, the other is normal ketchup, the third is Hudson’s very spicy ketchup, a thin orange potion for which the recipe is a guarded secret. “All I can tell you is that there is no horseradish in it,” the counterman reveals to an inquisitive customer.

There are no side dishes: no French fries, no chips, no slaw, not a leaf of lettuce in the house. Other than the fact that a glass case holds slices of pie for dessert, there is nothing more to say about Hudson’s. In nine decades, it has honed a simple perfection.

Directions & Hours

9:30am - 5:45pm
  • Monday: 9:30 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Tuesday: 9:30 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Wednesday: 9:30 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Thursday: 9:30 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Friday: 9:30 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Saturday: 9:30 AM – 5:15 PM
  • Sunday: Closed

What To Eat

Hamburger

DISH

Hudson’s Hamburgers Recipes

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What do you think of Hudson’s Hamburgers?

2 Responses to “Hudson’s Hamburgers”

Robert Harris

April 16th, 2007

My family and I went skiing up in the Coeur d’Alene area last winter and one day while taking a break from the slopes we decided to visit downtown. We were in the little shopping mall across the street from Hudson’s, unbeknownst to me! We walked out of the mall and that picture from across the street says it all… I could see “BURGERS Since 1907”, had no idea what it was. I told my wife, anyone who has been making hamburgers for 100 years is making one DANG good burger!

And I am very happy to say, I was not disappointed. I loved it so much, I had to make a special trip BACK to Hudson’s just for another burger before leaving town. The melted cheese, spicy ketchup and mustard are all this burger needs. Oh, except the extra napkins! I try my best to emulate that burger at home and have come close, but it’s still not the same. If you are ever in Coeur d’Alene, you must visit Hudson’s!

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Don Nelson

January 15th, 2007

I’ve gone to Hudson’s now and then for about 65 years. They have the best hamburgers in the world. There is no fluffery. Pickle, onion, or cheese are all that they put on them. The meat is locally raised lean beef especially prepared for them. I’m not sure if it is salt they put on it; we always thought it was some kind of secret stuff. A lot of locals are in there, and half of the fun is the chatting about local stuff that goes on.

I went to high school with Roger Hudson, the father of Todd Hudson, who runs it now, and I ate there when Roger’s father Howard ran it. A few years ago a McDonalds was put in half a block away. It lasted about a year. Hudson’s would be packed and one person would be in McDonalds. Shows you how savvy the people are in Coeur d’Alene.

By the way, you can buy a container of the magic sauce. I don’t remember how much it costs. I recall that when I was a youth we would watch in great anticipation when a tourist would load up his burger with the sauce thinking it was ketchup. It was quite sporting when the steam came out of his ears!

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