what: Big Time Burger
where: Boomer’s, 9 Medical Park, Suite 120, 803-771-7600
This spot, tucked away on the side of 9 Medical Park, may be Columbia’s actual best kept secret. In 1998, I learned about it from my father-in-law, when I was in then-named Richland Memorial Hospital waiting for my first son to be born. Due to a couple of aggravating factors, or maybe just a desire to catch up on 90210 reruns, I was in the hospital for a month before he was born. And hospital food isn’t the best. My father-in-law, a doctor there, visited me daily, and extolled the wonders of the lunch spot he called “The Armenian’s.”
Boomer’s, as I learned recently, is the real name of the place where my husband would occasionally buy me a delicious cheeseburger, smothered in cheese and grilled mushrooms, onions and peppers. The bun is warm, slightly crispy on the outside, and soft enough on the inside to soak up all the goodness that might otherwise fall to the plate. The name of this glorious creation is “The Big Time Burger,” and I’m a believer. Order it all the way, because why skimp? Twenty-one years later, without the mitigating factors of pregnancy and limited hospital food options, that burger remains world-class.
The low-key spot is still owned and operated by people from Armenia, including Jenya, who made my burger the other day. She guessed I might have a sweet tooth and encouraged me to take home a piece of baklava cheesecake, in spite of my claims that I would be full for the rest of the day, maybe the week. (She’s a wise woman. That cheesecake was delightful.)
Boomer’s does more than burgers. Though many of the customers are hospital personnel, I also saw people breaking for lunch who were there for family visits, treatments, or doctor’s appointments. Orders varied, and a lot of people seemed to have favorites, including pasta, sandwiches, loaded salads and gyros. (One nurse on the eighth floor of the hospital nearby swears by the gyro, so that’s next on my list.)