Written by Adam, GrubGrade Contributor
Utah’s Burger Bar
I’ll admit it; I’m a sucker for anything on Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. From small town bars featuring only a handful of tables to well-known and nostalgic looking American diners, Food Network’s latest hit is sure to satisfy both the appetites and curiosity of travelers from the east coast, west coast, and everywhere in between. And while it’s true that I may not share host Guy Fieri‘s appetite for a seemingly endless array of fried regional specialties, overstuffed south-of-the-border classics, or even such All-American standbys as biscuits and gravy, I nevertheless try to follow in his footsteps whenever possible.
Recently I had one such opportunity, as a spring break ski trip took me just north of Salt Lake City, Utah to the suburb of Roy. Literally situated beneath the backdrop of roaring F-18 fighter jets from nearby Hill Air Force base, the Burger Bar has a serious reputation amongst local servicemen and women (as well as college students from nearby Weber State) for juicy beef burgers, can’t-miss fries, and classic milk shakes which are sure to please any day of the week or hour of the day.
Yet I didn’t detour the hour from Salt Lake just to get just any burger. In fact, I came specifically to try one of the Bar’s signature specialties. Ever since I had seen the road-side restaurant featured on “Triple D” I knew I had wanted one of their Elk Burgers. A longtime fan of Elk’s similarly lean cousin the Bison, I nevertheless couldn’t remember ever having a burger made from elk despite my longtime practice of ordering Bison burgers every chance I’ve had. This being the case I approached the Burger Bar with a good deal of excitement, a feeling only reinforced when I pulled up on an overcast afternoon.
My first impressions of the place was that it had a very expansive menu for its size. Not only can you get all kinds of beef burgers, but you can also get hot dogs, chicken sandwiches (breaded or grilled), steak sandwiches, fish sandwiches, ‘exotic’ meats like Bison or Elk, as well as a whole compliment of shakes, malts, and freezes. Heck, they even have non-fat frozen yogurt, BBQ sandwiches, veggie burgers, and chili if you’re game.
Intrigued as I was, I came for the Elk and was resolute to stick to my choice as I approached the window. One thing to mention is that the burgers are not cooked to order. In fact, you have to specify “no sauce” if you want to skip the fry sauce, which as Guy points out on his show is actually akin to Thousand Island salad dressing. Having specified that I wanted only the standard lettuce and tomato on my burger, I anxiously awaited its arrival despite being somewhat weary of not getting to specify the degree of doneness to the lady at the window.
The wait seemed to take forever, and it does not help that there is no indoor seating at the Burger Bar or that the staff seemed exceptionally slow in filling my family’s order. Once the food arrived however all was forgotten, as my Elk Burger came dressed in a firm but soft potato bun with tomatoes and shredded lettuce. A healthy dose of ketchup came with the meal in the form of those tiny plastic containers everyone loves, as did extra “fry sauce” and a side order of crispy french fries which comes with your order.
So how did the burger taste exactly? And was my trip to Roy a success? Once more, could the ‘lean and mean’ Elk really matchup to the fattier beef burger as the segment on Triple D suggested? Not to worry, as I’ve got your review covered. Here are the essentials…
The Burger Bar: Elk Burger
Taste: 9.00/10. This was not a dry burger despite my worry, and it had a good “beefy” taste despite not being beef. It was somewhat bland on its own though, and depending on your tolerance for condiments may benefit from some fixings. The lettuce and tomato work well with it, as did my ketchup/mustard combo administered separately. I’m sure “fry sauce” probably makes it great if you’re into that sort of thing, but I’m not and still found the burger to really hit the spot. Personally I find most burgers (beef or otherwise) bland without ketchup and mustard, so relatively speaking this burger had great taste when handled the way I like it.
Value: 7.50/10. At $5.25 you’re getting a decent sized burger of a premium meat that you usually don’t get the opportunity to experience. The fact that you get fries and extra condiments along with that makes this a good deal. Other menu items seem to be well priced as well. Still, I can’t afford to be paying $5.25 for a burger everyday, especially when getting it without fries is not an option.
Nutrition: 8.00/10. Is the Elk burger really less than “two grams of fat” as described on the show? Well, considering your average-sized and horribly dry chicken breast has about that much fat I’d probably guess no, but undoubtedly elk is still leaner and a better healthy eating option than its ground beef counterpart. And with a great taste and good value what more could you want?
GrubGrade: I’m giving this burger an 8.50/10 overall. I really liked it, and if given the chance would easily buy it again. I thought it tasted just as good, if not better, than any classic beef burger you could get at a place like this, and definitely benefited from its status as an “exotic meat” attraction. The fact that it’s healthier than beef but still has that unmistakable “red meat taste” only makes it all the more awesome in my mind, as does its relative value. My only issue was with the lack of customization the customer has over its cooking, as well as the relatively long-wait on an otherwise slow day. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spoiled by sit-down style Bison Burgers which typically come medium, but I just felt like the burger could have gone from “great” to “freaking amazing” if cooked differently. That and it would benefit from char-grilling as opposed to being cooked over a flattop.
If you’re not feeling too adventurous, the menu is big enough to cater to those looking for something less exotic. If you’re up for a challenge, take a shot at the huge burger called simply “Big Ben”. The Burger Bar is a must see whenever you’re around Salt Lake City, with the restaurant’s Elk burger making my short list of foods to try while in Utah.
Check them out:
5291 S 1900 W
Roy, UT 84067