Chuckwagon Cafe, Turner Valley, Alberta

One of the prettiest drives on a sunny day is part of the Cowboy Trail between Calgary and Turner Valley/Black Diamond. It’s an even worthier trip when the end goal is the declared winner of the “search for the perfect burger.”

Last summer, Gwendolyn and her sister — for the sake of research of course — visited five burger joints in four days in the Calgary area. The Chuckwagon Cafe was deemed the hands-down winner.

Chuckwagon Cafe, Turner Valley, AlbertaLocated in a red barn on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Turner Valley, the cafe is packed on the weekends. Customers line up not only for the Chuckwagon’s homemade burgers but also for its steak benedicts — a flat iron steak ($15.75) or tenderloin ($18.75) with poached eggs and hollandaise served on a fresh-baked croissant!

Owner Terry Myhre serves beef raised in nearby Longview with no growth hormones or steroids. Each table has a card that proudly outlines the background of the Murray Grey Angus cross cattle, who are fed a 150-day finishing diet of barley, flax and grass hay, and then later dry aged for 24 to 28 days.

So how are the burgers? Pretty damn fine.

The 6-oz. patty is juicy and flavoured with just enough spices. For me, the house burger ($10.75) shines with a near-perfect ensemble performance: grilled mushrooms, onion, bacon, relish, mayo, mustard, lettuce (not iceberg, thank goodness) and tomato. Each plays its role without overwhelming the other.

It doesn’t hurt that the homemade fries are cut, fried and salted to an addictive level.

My only, tiny, minor quibble is that the bun is TOO fresh. It’s delicious and soft but by the time I finished half of the burger, the bun on the other half was borderline soggy.

Colette had a good suggestion that next time I should ask for a toasted bun. Or I could eat faster, I suppose.

Chuckwagon Cafe, 105 Sunset Blvd., Turner Valley, Alberta, (403) 933-0003. Open weekdays 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m., weekends 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Chuckwagon Cafe, Turner Valley, Alberta