Kingston, NY: The R.B.K. (Real Burger King) from Joe Beez

Well before Carl’s Jr. introduced their “foot long cheeseburger,” and certainly centuries before our bodies will have evolved to the point where we actually need a foot long cheeseburger, the folks at Joe Beez in Kingston, NY have been serving up these stunners to the joy and wonderment of locals and bleary-eyed burger blogging tourists alike.

“Conveniently” located amidst one of Kingston’s many commercial districts (Have metal fabrication needs or perhaps you are looking for a cap for your pickup truck? You can scratch that itch and more all within a stone’s throw of this joint), Joe Beez is a throwback to another time and place where manly men who bend metal with their bare hands (see above reference to nearby metal fabricator) would come each day for their requisite hectares of lunch meats.

Nearly 100 different sandwich options literally scream for your attention, leaping off handwritten, multi-colored construction paper signs tacked to the joint’s walls.  They’ve adopted Carnegie Deli’s schtick of paying homage to celebrities by naming subs after them – Jerry Garcia, Bobby Flay, Heavy D, Winnie The Pooh and Dustin Pedroia are just a few of the notables.  Whittling down the list of burgers wasn’t easy, but if they are going to make a claim with one called the “Real Burger King” then I felt I should see for myself how they hoped to ride to the title.

The bar stool-lined dining room is small and crowds up quickly during lunch time so we took our sandwiches to-go and cracked them open at a picnic pavilion outside the Kingston Zoo (which was surprisingly good and free to boot!).  Splayed out on the table with it’s wrappings torn asunder, the R.B.K. revealed its true self – a gloriously freakish lovefest of burgers, bacon, “veggies” and cheese, all served on a darn nice sub/hoagie roll (which I didn’t expect outside of Philly) – without guilt or remorse.

Here is your shopping list if you care to to recreate this one at home:

(2) 1/4 lb. beef patties, each patty sliced in half (cooked up perfectly on a flat top by the way)
Cheddar cheese, blue cheese and Swiss cheese
A rasher of bacon
Grilled onions
Grilled peppers
Frank’s style hot sauce
Hot peppers

And, if you are in Philly you might want to try and grab a Wawa foot long sub roll. The Joe Beez version, produced by Kingston’s own Deising’s Bakery, is squishy just like Wawa’s hoagie rolls.

Slap all of that together and you’ve got yourself a mammoth sandwich which,  weighing in at well over a pound.  The drive to the zoo took just long enough for all of the ingredients to truly combine and congeal and the heat trapped inside the wrapper actually steamed the roll a bit, meaning all parts of the sandwich were texturally similar – more harmonious than homogeneous.  After several days of near forced vegetarianism on our vacation to Woodstock, NY, this sandwich satisfied all of my meat cravings and actually proved too much to eat, at least in the presence of my children who may (or may not) wish for me to be present at their future graduations and weddings.

So does it deserve the title of “The Real Burger King?”  Probably not. That bar is just way too high and at a minimum would require a more focused approach to the burgers, which when separated from the pack and eaten alone were only about pub grade, due I think more to cooking skill than quality or heritage of the beef.  Where this burger does excel though is in delivering a heaping amount of food without sacrificing taste.  This is no easy task and maybe there should be some title in the monarchy reserved for the rare few that can achieve this feat.  If I lived in Upstate New York this would be a routine stop (mercifully they do offer smaller versions of their sandwiches, too) and it is easy to see why Joe Beez consistently earns rave reviews for being way more than your average sub shop.

Additional thoughts:

Joe Beez stands staunchly counter to the whims of popular opinion in our country by continuing to offer a burger called the “Big Ben Rothlisberger” (ingredients roll call: burgers, ham, bacon, capicola, 4 kinds of cheese, peppers, onions, ad infinitum).  This absolute clusterf**k of a sandwich seems even more fitting now as its impact on your body is akin to crashing a motorcycle if not clearly identifying yourself as someone with incredibly poor judgment (nutritional or, ahem – otherwise).

Now here is the dilemma…under what possible circumstances would you ever find yourself in Kingston, NY (if going to Joe Beez is not enough to convince your wife)?  Let me offer you some suggestions torn straight from our recent vacation itinerary.  The Saugerties Lighthouse is incredibly cool and the 1/2 mile hike through the marshlands is the perfect balance of effort and payoff.  Bard College, just across the very bridge that breathes life into Kingston, has a Frank Gehry designed theater and a huge piece of modern art by Olafur Eliasson called “The Parliament of Reality” which alone may be worth the trip upstate.  Big Pink, the namesake of The Band’s 1968 debut album “Music From Big Pink” is less than 1/2 hour from Joe Beez and with the benefit of GPS and a favorable tail wind you may actually find this house.  Stop by and spend a moment wondering how Bob Dylan and the boys ever found this place while even mildly impaired.

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Joe Beez
40 South Manor Avenue
Kingston, NY 12401-3628
(845) 334-9501
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4 thoughts on “Kingston, NY: The R.B.K. (Real Burger King) from Joe Beez

  1. As a native Kingstonian it’s nice to see a local eatery getting some love. I have been going here since 2003 and remember during the summer of ’05 I ate here every single day. I now live in Brooklyn so I don’t get the chance to return often but I know it’s reputation still lives on. I know the younger generation fervently adheres to it’s mighty sandwiches. Cheers for exalting this fine establishment!

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Ryan. Kingston seemed like an interesting place. Very cool downtown, with the old-school City Hall set up on a square (with a hot dog cart!). Joe Beez was legit and I hope to get back there someday. A funky little joint worthy of every bit of praise lavished on it.

  2. Pingback: Brewster, NY: Red Rooster Drive-In’s Cheeseburger « Blog Archive « burgatory.com

  3. Excellent review. I own Keegan Ales, a brewery a few blocks away. Joe, being Kingston’s Sub King and I, being the city’s beer king, have naturally become fast friends. My crew and I eat there more than my doctor recommends. Next time, try some of his breakfast breakfast too – equally outrageous. Try the Mona Lisa. With both chicken and eggs (plus tons more), who cares which came first…but a nap is surely next!

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