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Grill of My Dreams 

Five reasons to fall in love with Proper Burger Company

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To borrow a turn of phrase from John Green's The Fault in or Stars, I fell in love with Proper Burger Company (865 S. Main Street, 801-906-8604, properburgerslc.com) the way you fall asleep—slowly, and then all at once. Much like a tumultuous young adult love story, the relationship I've built with Proper Burger was an unexpected mix of serendipitous-but-charming interactions and tearful confrontations with commitment. This whirlwind romance concluded with the realization that even though I remain a career burger slut, I'll always find my way back to Proper.

My feelings for Proper Burger stem from their well-rounded menu and consistent technique. Every facet of classic burger cuisine can be found by perusing their 14 offerings, which include culinary references to four cultures outside the U.S. Basically, this expertly curated and crafted menu ensures that Proper Burger has something for you, regardless of whatever craving is rumbling around in your stomach. I've tried every one of their burgers at this point, and I can safely say that there's not a bad one on the menu. Since I don't have space to extol the virtues of each one, here are the top five.

The Johnny Utah ($8.49): Proper's take on the iconic pastrami burger is always a crowd-pleaser. They make their own turkey pastrami—which might seem like a slight against the pastrami gods, but hear me out. As much as I love pastrami burgers, the double team of ground beef and pastrami can be a bit of a gut bomb. Using turkey pastrami instead of beef lightens the load a little bit, and the addition of coleslaw and homemade zucchini pickles provides just the right amount of sweetness and acid to the burger. Outside of its technical merits, the Johnny Utah bears the name of cinema's greatest action hero, which only adds to its appeal. As always, gimme two.

Proper Style ($6.99): Though this burger is much more modest than the others on the list, it sets the gold standard for what Proper Burger is. When other entries on the menu feel a bit too extravagant for a quick lunchtime jaunt, the Proper Style is always a safe bet. It consists of your basic cheeseburger fare—lettuce, tomato, American cheese and zucchini pickles—so there's nothing not to like about this one. The Proper Style also showcases the foundational techniques behind Proper's large assortment—this is the "subject zero" of the mad experiments found on their menu.

Sundance Kid ($7.99): Though we tend to think of pastrami burgers as the quintessential Utah burger, the barbecue bacon cheeseburger is just as entwined with Utah history. Proper Burger's variation of this classic number has all the basics—barbecue sauce, bacon, cheese and a couple golden fried onion rings—but they've added a Frito crumble that somehow makes this version feel even more at home to the Utah palate. The sauce perfectly complements the burger and bacon, and it's got a welcome spicy kick that lingers after each bite.

Rising Sun ($8.49): Adding a fried egg to a burger is a lot like adding bacon: You do so at the risk of letting the addition overwhelm the thing's basic construction. Proper Burger has solved this dilemma with the Rising Sun by adopting a "more is more" approach. In addition to a fried egg, this burger comes at you with an Asian-inspired arsenal that consists of kimchi, miso aioli, cilantro, cucumber pickles and Sriracha for something that's one part burger, one part bulgogi and one part bahn mi. The heat of the kimchi and Sriracha pair very well with the fried egg, and the cilantro is there to ground the whole thing with a bit of herbaceous balance. If you're careful, most of Proper's burgers can be eaten without the aid of a napkin, but just forget about that once you dive into this spicy delight.

Flyin' Hawaiian ($8.99): Sometimes I crave a burger that swaps the savory acidity of pickles for something sweet and citrus, which is when I turn to the Flyin' Hawaiian. It's a burger equipped with sliced ham—made in-house, by the way—and a pineapple ring, along with some pickled jalapeños, Swiss cheese and whole-grain mustard. The combination of ham and pineapple alone is a fantastic burger elevator, but as is the case for most burgers on Proper's menu, it's the small details that really make this tropical flower sing. The jalapeños are there to make sure things don't get too sweet, and the mustard does some heavy flavor mediation to make sure nothing hijacks the ride.

I also have good news for anyone sticking to a plant-based diet. Not only can Proper Burger's menu be made entirely vegan—their vegan burger patty is extremely tasty—but they have the best vegan chili I've ever had. Hell, it might be the best chili that I've ever had, period. So whether you're eating meat or not, pursuing a relationship with Proper Burger will never do you wrong.

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