Gordie's: Stand by me inspired American-style burgers at Sunabe

Gordie's: Stand by me inspired American-style burgers at Sunabe

by Michael Flemming

Gordie's Hamburger is a locally popular eatery in Chatan Cho festooned with castaway decor, kitschy 1950s and 1960s memorabilia, and roadside diner in the middle of nowhere appeal. It’s tucked away on a side street near the scuba dive culture hub of the Sunabe Seawall. This small burger shack smacks of Americana with Okinawan influences and pledges its food is, “Homemade in Sincerity”.

Everything exudes vintage Americana at Gordie’s. The property itself rests on land that was once part of a nearby United States military base. The structure is a former on-base home that has been converted via partial demolition of interior walls. The furnishings largely consist of mismatched American style kitchen table sets from yesteryear. Think of your parents photo albums of their own childhood growing up at grandma and grandpas house – Gordie’s looks like those old Chroma color prints. The walls and shelves contain pop culture of a distinct era closely tied to the source of the establishment’s name.

This restaurant is inspired by a scene in the 1986 movie Stand By Me. In that film 13 year old Gordie LaChance becomes highly agitated when his burger falls into a fire. Gordie’s Hamburger captures the era of Stand By Me and redeems its namesake’s desire for a fire grilled meal.

I visited Gordie’s hamburger in the early afternoon with my wife. We both ordered cheeseburgers, hers a single and mine a double. Her cheeseburger came with lettuce and tomato. My double came without lettuce and tomato but had the house’s homemade barbecue sauce pasted on the top patty. Both orders came with freshly cut and seasoned french fries and a pickle slice. The buns are made fresh on the premesis each evening.

I could taste the uniqueness of Gordie’s process in the first bite. All burgers are cooked on an open flame charcoal grill that gives a pleasant smoky taste to the meat. The burger patties are handmade from coarsely ground 100% beef, so coarse that it tastes like a steak burger. I washed my meal down with a glass of soda. The meal was satisfying to the point that I ended up skipping dinner as I was still full hours later.

Gordie’s Hamburger is priced higher than fast food chains but offers sizable portions cooked homemade in its nicely decorated homage to Stand By Me. The restaurant sells a variety of beef and chicken burgers, hot dogs, milkshakes, salads, onion rings, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, sodas, beer and homemade pastries, as well as American style breakfast in the morning. Prices range from 850 yen to 1,600 yen for combinations, 380 yen to 1,450 yen for salads depending on size, and individual selections priced between 250 yen to 850 yen. American dollars are also accepted.

Gordie’s Hamburger is less than five minutes away from the Sunabe Seawall in northern Chatan Cho, Okinawa. Get there by going west from Route 58 on the first road just south of the Kadena Air Base gate in Sunabe, go right at the second street, then left at the third street where the restaurant will be on the left. Parking is available along the street. Gordie’s Hamburger is open from 08:00 ~ 11:00 for breakfast and 11:00 ~ 21:30 for lunch and dinner.



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