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They are often the star of backyard cookouts, but sometimes you want to give the grill a rest and go out to a restaurant to satisfy a burger craving.
Flagstaff’s dining scene offers a bevy of burger options that will make you want to place your grill on a permanent hiatus.
At Diablo Burger, located in the heart of downtown Flagstaff, their motto is “All About Local,” and the delicious results will turn anyone into a dedicated locavore. The story of an amazing burger never starts with mediocre beef, and Diablo Burger’s tale is one that begins with 100 percent local, grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef from the Diablo Trust ranches southwest of Flagstaff. Beef this good should take center stage and not be overshadowed by a starchy bun, which is why these burgers are served on English muffins. Knowing that you’re starting with a stellar burger almost makes it easier to choose between the delectable options. Almost. The Blake is a spice-lover’s heaven, topped with hatch chile mayo, roasted green chiles, and sharp cheddar. Any calories saved on the bun should immediately be applied to the Belgian-style fries, double-fried and sprinkled with herbes de provence.
Burgers were never in Bernadette Chavez’s plan, but loyal Mama Burger followers are forever grateful that she found this calling when the restaurant first opened in 2009. Harkening back to her days in San Diego, Bernadette created the original Mama Burger as a throwback to the west coast Highway 101 burger shacks. Each burger is cooked to order, starting with over a quarter of a pound of beef, smashed on a hot grill. Since moving to a bigger location on the outskirts of downtown, the Mama Burger menu has grown, which made room for the M-O-A-B (Mother of All Burgers). It’s the biggest burger in the joint, topped with everything they can find in the restaurant, including a handful of fries. Sometimes you just need the comfort of the original, and the Mama Burger never disappoints. Topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, American cheese, and house sauce, it is best consumed with a hand-blended shake on the patio with a view of the San Francisco Peaks.
When it comes to iconic Flagstaff patios, Flagstaff Brewing Company, or Flag Brew as it’s more affectionately known, is hard to beat. There’s a little bit of sun, a little bit of shade, and a whole lot of Flagstaff character. There’s often live music, and plastic water bowls line the gate, hydrating the dogs who feel as at home on the Flag Brew patio as their owners. Flag Brew’s hand-crafted beers are best accompanied by a juicy burger, and when it comes to the options on this menu, the smellier the better. The Black & Bleu burger is topped with tangy bleu cheese, onion rings, and chipotle mayo. It doesn’t do wonders for the breath, but your taste buds won’t care. It’s a good excuse to try another pint of Flag Brew’s craft beer.
What’s better than one burger? How about three burgers? The sliders at the Gopher Hole Pubinside the historic Weatherford Hotel pack a lot of punch into the (slightly larger than) bite-size morsels. Three handmade, charbroiled, mini burgers are piled high with grilled onions and cheddar cheese and nestled into a pint-size roll. Small on size definitely doesn’t mean small on flavor when it comes to the Gopher Hole sliders. The accompanying basket of fries rounds it all out, creating the perfectly satisfying mini-burger meal.
A beef burger isn’t for everyone, but some veggie burgers just don’t make the grade. Not the case with the Flagstaff-made Tepa Burger, a Tepary bean-based alternative to meat. Restaurants around town put their own twist on the Tepa Burger. The Toasted Owl in historic southside features the Tepa Mac – two patties and all the toppings you could imagine. With that much flavor, you won’t miss the meat.
Jacki Lenners is 11 short years away from being an Arizona native, but considers the Grand Canyon State her home turf. She has slowly made her way north, starting out in Tucson, moving to Phoenix, and after living in Flagstaff for the past seven years, she's finally found her perfect Arizona home. When she's not at her day job marketing Flagstaff's fabulous public transit system, Jacki can be found skiing or hiking in the San Francisco Peaks, trying to keep up with Flagstaff's very speedy runners, or completely counteracting all of that exercise by checking out the newest restaurants in town.