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MailTribune.com
  • Carts and cars at Digger's

  • It should be no secret that on Central Avenue near the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center in Medford, a hotbed of quality dining spots offer hearty, unique lunches for well below $10.
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    • Word of Mouth
      Dining out with
      the Mail Tribune
      Digger's Good Year Tavern Food Court
      101 S. Riverside Ave., Medford
      541-776-2886
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      Word of Mouth
      Dining out with

      the Mail Tribune

      Digger's Good Year Tavern Food Court

      101 S. Riverside Ave., Medford

      541-776-2886
  • It should be no secret that on Central Avenue near the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center in Medford, a hotbed of quality dining spots offer hearty, unique lunches for well below $10.
    But after the soft opening of Digger's Good Year Tavern and its outdoor food court, I traveled a block off my beaten path to 101 S. Riverside Ave. My take: Students and working stiffs have even more choices for a great meal at fast-food prices.
    I realized I hadn't had barbecue in quite a while, and Dem Bones Smokehouse in the pavilion fit the bill perfectly. After looking over the simple menu of barbecue and traditional sandwiches with a smokehouse twist, I went with the tri-tip sandwich ($8), which came with a side of "OMG Chili" and a bottle of water.
    The chili was a good mix of beans and fresh, tender beef. The sandwich was a simple combination of tender, smoked tri-tip cut into thin slices and served with barbecue sauce and provolone cheese. The meat portion was generous, more than many would be able to finish, and I liked how well the stadium roll was grilled.
    On my second visit I tried the beer brat with onions ($6.50), which also came with a side of the chili. The meal combined grilled brats topped with onions that had been simmering in pilsner beer from Southern Oregon Brewing and a honey mustard sauce on a grilled stadium roll. The sweet sauce meshed very nicely with the fresh, hoppy beer flavor.
    Also in the Digger's pavilion is Jose's Express Mexican food cart.
    Downtown Medford offers Mexican food every which way, from sit-down restaurants to simpler taquerias, but Mexican-food fans owe themselves a visit to the red cart.
    Jose's offered two large tacos for $4.99 or a taco special that adds rice and refried pinto beans for $5.99. I took the chicken taco special. After a short wait — less than 10 minutes — I found two large tacos with generous portions of grilled chicken in warm, soft, corn tortillas and topped with chopped romaine lettuce and cotija and cheddar jack cheeses. Nicely marinated with notes of citrus and cilantro, and grilled until piping hot and juicy, the chicken was the high point of an inexpensive meal without a weak spot.
    I made a second visit to the stand to see whether I could recommend their asada tacos as highly. I found the beef to be every bit as well marinated and cooked. For my second visit, I brought a co-worker who was no stranger to nearby taco carts, and we noticed the corn tortillas were handmade. Within two bites my co-worker was raving his chicken tacos were the best in the valley.
    It was a blustery, cold Monday, so my co-worker and I took our lunch inside the tavern.
    We caught the tavern during its first week of opening, currently just for the lunch and the after-work crowd with plans to expand to evenings later this spring. The converted garage felt very clean and was decorated with vintage metal signs, license plates, NASCAR memorabilia and a pinball machine. When the weather warms up, the garage door and front window roll up for easy access to the food-cart court.
    The only food the tavern serves is frozen burritos and popcorn, but as a car enthusiast, I thought the space felt like a place where I'd enjoy spending more time. On merits of atmosphere alone, it'll be my top choice for a guys' night out.
    — Nick Morgan
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