Burger Haus: A Review

When I go to a restaurant, I love to feel that I got my money's worth, in terms of quantity, variety, and food quality. The restaurants that succeed in that feeling, and also in terms of cleanliness and employee friendliness, usually get my business again. However, there are those restaurants that fall a little short of entirely fulfilling those wants, or failing completely. Enter the Burger Haus.

I've only been to California a couple times before, and my extent is typically driving through the town as Highway 179 is closed, and taking 50 to California makes better sense for a detour. I'm excluding the times I've been to California High School, home of the Pintos, for basketball games and tournaments, since their high school is located right on the edge of town, and is another experience. (California is also former home to the Pintomobile.)

The Story

When I was younger, my grandparents would often take me on "mystery trips." This often was to museums and points of interest, but one time they drove to California to dine on this buffet. My grandfather claimed it was an excellent buffet.

I was younger, and my memory of the place was faded, but from what I can remember I didn't have too good of an experience there. I decided to give the place a second chance, in an attempt to redeem themselves.

This is how I ended up going back. When I visited, it was probably one of the hottest weeks of the summer, and I decided to wash my hands. The restrooms are in an awkward location, where you have to exit the restaurant and enter the restrooms.

I went back in, and bought the buffet and my drink. The total for the meal was around $10, and I was the only person in my party.

Due to the lack of air conditioning (or air conditioning that does not work), the dining area was fairly warm. I got my drink and sat everything down. I then went to the buffet. I got chicken, mashed potatoes, and mac-and-cheese. The scoops for the items such as mac-and-cheese and mashed potatoes were too small, in my personal opinion.

Once returning to my seat, I bit into a piece of chicken and almost immediately spat it back out. It turned out to be fish, dressed up in a chicken disguise. I like fish, but I also like to know what I'm biting into, so that I know what to expect.

macaroni/cheeseI then tried a piece of chicken. The chicken was okay, nothing fancy. The chicken, however, tasted as if it was a couple days old, and I'm almost sure that the chicken was not up to the proper temperature. It felt fairly lukewarm, and not steaming hot like usual buffet chicken.

The mashed potatoes were nothing fancy, and was actually a little on the disgusting side. When taking a bite of the mashed potatoes, there was an okay taste, then the awful aftertaste hit. There is no way these potatoes are made from real potatoes. (Instead, "box" mashed potatoes.)

The mac-and-cheese was another thing. Only Golden Corral, and only on a couple times, has got mac-and-cheese right. Mac-and-cheese is one of those things that everyone enjoys differently, and there are so many variables while making. No one batch is like the next. Burger Haus, on the other hand, got it right. This place has gotten ONE thing correct so far. I'm so happy.

I didn't try the taco bar as the taco meat looked disgusting. I, instead, went for a fairly safe choice. Ice cream. The soft-serve ice cream machine is very noisy, and the ice cream it produced was like other soft-serve vanillas. Nothing special. However, when you buy the buffet, you get ice cream included. You can either get soft-serve (only vanilla) or come to the counter and request a bowl of Central Dairy ice cream.

moose tracksI also forgot about the ice cream topping bar. But I also requested some Moose Tracks ice cream, my favorite type of ice cream. It was excellent, but then again, how can you ruin ice cream as long as you keep it cold? And if it was bad, it typically wouldn't be their fault.

This place boasts offering "30 different sandwiches." I've never tried any of their sandwiches (or burgers, their namesake.) While their buffet is definitely not worth the money, their sandwiches may be.


The first thing about this place is the decor. If you didn't know any better, you'd be time traveling back to the 1970s. This place looks like it hasn't changed since the 1970s, with the wood grain seats and paneling on some of the walls and counters, and ugly yellow tables.

The place is fairly noisy. The ice machine makes loud racket when it turns on, but other than that the ice cream machine is fairly noisy. As long as you dine somewhere far away from those machines (in either the "front" part, farthest away from the ice cream and soda fountains) you should be good. Sadly, those areas don't have air conditioning. (As if the rest of the place has "air conditioning.")

InteriorCleanliness - I like going to a restaurant which is fairly clean. I can understand simple things such as splatter on salad bars and buffets, especially if there are children present. However, this place is a prime example of what NOT to do. The bathrooms were disgusting, and looked as if they never been cleaned. The dining area was much better.

Friendliness is another thing I like to see when I eat at a restaurant. The employees at Burger Haus were friendly, but didn't interact much with their customers. I'm not sure if this place is a real restaurant with real "waiters" or "bussers", or just a restaurant where you help yourself. Sure, you have to get your own drink and food, but I'd expect the table busser to collect dirty plates. I'm a waiter myself, and I like to at least ask my customers how the food is.

As for the customers, it was California. I can't safely have high hopes for this place. There was one family whose father stared at me as if I was a most-wanted criminal on the run. In reality, he may have been trying to see the TV behind me, but even from my angle I couldn't see it. He could've moved in there to watch it.

There was another family who wasn't bad or anything, but just rather "out of place." When I walked in, I saw an amish lady waiting on her son in the bathroom. Once again, it's California, there are amish communities in that area. I later found out these people were not amish, maybe Mennonite. They were dressed very basic and casually. The mother wore her hair into a bun, covered by a white cap which most amish women do. The father, on the other hand, was dressed casually, in a green button-up shirt. There were three kids. The oldest daughter wore a pink "John Deere" dress, with pictures of the John Deere logo and tractors on it. The middle child, a boy, wore a button-up John Deere shirt with tractors and John Deere logos all over it. The younget boy looked as if he stepped from a time traveling machine from the 1940s or 1950s into 2016. He was wearing a button-up red plaid shirt, and blue jeans. It was cute, but just out-of-place. Definitely not strange, just "out of place."

Variety- This place offers some variety, at least on their buffet. They offer ham, chicken, fish, and a taco bar. However, the food quality of those items are more important. 3/5
Food Quality- The food quality is okay in some cases, better than average in others, and lacking in others. It is very hit-and-miss with this place, depending on the item you want to eat. 2/5
Employee Friendliness- The employees were friendly, but did not do a good job of pre-bussing tables. The majority of the employees are high school students. 4/5
Cleanliness- The restrooms were dirty, and the kitchen was also somewhat unorganized. The dining area, however, was fairly clean. 3/5
Interior (decor and comfort)-The restaurant was fairly warm, and the inside was noisy. The decor hasn't been updated since at least the 1980s. I understand this place is a "mom-and-pop" style restaurant, which means there are less room for renovations and improvements, but doing some simple painting and such when the restaurant is not open could help somewhat. 1/5
Value- My meal cost $10 by the time I had one adult buffet plus one drink (soda.) This rating is for the buffet/drink combo, and not for the various other menu items this place sells. 2/5

Overall Rating (15/30) - 50%

This place is one of very few restaurants (especially "sit-down" restaurants) in California. Everyone who lives in California, and the surrounding area enjoys Burger Haus. My grandfather enjoys it, and was the one who persuaded me to give this place a second chance.

To sum up the few good things this restaurant has down (note that this place didn't get a perfect "5" on anything), the variety is okay and the employees are friendly. The ice cream was superb, and the macaroni and cheese was superior than many other restaurants I've visited, especially for buffet mac-and-cheese.

This restaurant is a let-down, as I was really hoping this place would be a "hidden treasure." Sadly, nope. The food quality is below average, and the overall value is poor.

Will I be back? For the buffet, no. However, these ratings were mostly pertaining to the buffet. This place boasts offering up to 30 different sandwiches, and has a full menu that customers can order from. I haven't tried these sandwiches, but I've heard they're fairly good, and are made-to-order. If you live in California, or are moving there, or visiting - this and McDonalds are (from what I understand) are your only two options.

Burger Haus
1001 W. Buchanan Street,
California, Missouri 65018
(573) 796-2916


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Last updated 7-23-2016; T420 (visited 7-21-2016)