"I’m pretty obsessed with hamburgers and fast food as a symbol of American greatness and simultaneously the degrading, default assembly-line garbage food. The way they represent multitudes. Like anything that interests me, in my books, it tends to mean more than one thing in a confusing way. I love a really great hamburger, myself. It’s one of the things that pulls me back from the brink from a full commitment to vegetarianism. I really don’t eat a whole lot of meat anymore, but when I do, it tends to be In-N-Out burger. Mine is on Foothill Boulevard. There’s some street cred there in a weird way, since it’s on Route 66. It’s the burger joint that Steinbeck’s Okies didn’t get to stop in on the way to LA from the Dust Bowl."I'm a huge fan of Lethem's novels (haven't read the new one though). So it's no great shock to me that he has great taste in burgers. If In-N-Out ever makes it to Korea I will gladly step over any ajumma who get in my way for a Double-Double and Animal Style Fries, mark my words.
Meanwhile, speaking of burgers, Shake Shack has made it to South Korea but alas, not to lurvely little Daegu as of yet. It's in Gangnam of course, the "Hollywood" of Seoul.
I lived there for a year. It's over-rated to say the least, but not a bad place to find decent non-Korean grub. (Expect to pay through the nose for it though, and more than likely have to wait in line for the better options.)
My two favorite Daegu burger joints have shut down. (Whither Gorilla Burger?, and while Traveler's was kind of a cliche of an ex-pat drinking joint, their food wasn't half bad.) I'm kind of surprised that this specific void for English teachers and GI's in Daegu (there are tons of both) hasn't been filled properly as of yet.
Anyhow, these days when I'm craving Western food I'll go to Etoh's for pizza and good draft beers. In fact, pizza is the only thing on their menu in addition to sandwiches which aren't nearly as good.
Lazy Diner is another option I guess, but despite their very cool interior furnishings and excellent people-watching views I think their food is pretty mediocre. (They definitely use frozen beef and french fries. Boo.) They do the all-day breakfast thing that some ex-pats love but, like Lethem, I've never been much of a pancakes-waffles-morning sugar coma guy (great minds, natch).
Even Dos Tacos is gone for those times I craved extremely fake but kind-of-satisfying Mexican food.
What can I say? There's a critical shortage of ESL bros coming over to Daegu, marrying Koreans, discovering they're terrible at teaching, and opening burger and wing joints that serve Guinness on tap, while Seoul and Busan or drowning in those kinds of places. (And Hoegaarden for some strange reason. Hoegaarden is vile, but it's everywhere in South Korea. It tastes like rancid bubblegum.)