Possessing no powerful craving for beef, I wasn't particularly drawn to the The Burger Cafe when it opened during the summer of 2011 at 141 S. Central Ave., Medford, in the row of storefronts that cater to Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University students.
I had heard good things about the burgers, and on a recent day, my husband thought the simple menu and home-grown approach looked worth a try.
When we stopped in for lunch, I quickly discovered there is more to The Burger Cafe than just burgers. And there are lots of burgers.
While there might not be quite the array found at Jasper's in Medford, there are plenty of options to keep carnivores happy.
The deluxe burger, which actually is the base model, comes with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayonnaise. Plenty of other classics — cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, jalapeno burger, mushroom-Swiss burger, a Hawaiian burger with a slice of pineapple, a West Coast burger with barbecue sauce and onion rings — are available. Or go a little bit nuts adding salsa, a fried egg, french fries, onion rings and more.
The quarter-pound burgers are priced at $4 or add fries and a fountain drink for $6.
Try an inside-out burger with your choice of cheese stuffed inside a half-pound patty for $6, or really beef it up with the 1-pound T. rex burger for $10.
Some of the specialty burgers come with musically inspired names, so my husband had to try the Led Zeppelin, which piled pepper jack and pepperoncini on top of a deluxe burger. A burger combo featuring this specialty burger with fresh-cut fries and a fountain drink is just $7, but he upgraded to feta-garlic fries for $1 more. The upgrade definitely was worth it as the cheese, garlic and sprinkling of parsley perfectly accented the deeply browned fries.
The hand-formed patty had a nice crust, with a hint of char adding flavor.
Beyond burgers, I liked the look of the specialty sandwiches, including a BLT and a club, both properly prepared on crispy toast, and the Philly cheesesteak, French dip and turkey sandwiches on plump pub rolls. This clearly is a place for meat eaters, as no vegetarian items are listed on the menu.
I chose a turkey-bacon-avocado sandwich. A pile of deli turkey was accented with shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, crisp bacon and a few slices of creamy avocado. I got a whole sandwich, served in combination with fries and a soda for $8. Next time, I'll order a half sandwich, a generous serving priced at just $4, and just steal a few of my husband's fries.
With freshly prepared food at prices comparable with restaurants that rely on frozen and mass-produced meals, The Burger Cafe is a good, downtown, lunchtime alternative to fast food.
The Burger Cafe is open from 10 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is closed weekends. Call 541-734-9996.
— Anita Burke