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Jaspers Café in Jacksonville

Try a meal that is outside the box when you visit Jaspers Café.

Though the restaurant is known for its classic burgers, fries and shakes, there's a selection of gourmet and specialty burgers that goes beyond the ordinary.

Jaspers has long been a mainstay of Medford. The restaurant opened in 1977 as Jaspers Hot Dogs on South Bartlett Street. It operated as a deli for a couple of years at a different downtown location before moving to a spot on the North Pacific Highway in 1986. John and Janet Lenz purchased the restaurant in January of 2007, and now they have opened a second Jaspers Café in Jacksonville.

My boyfriend Rob and I visited the Jacksonville restaurant early last Sunday afternoon. The tables were filled with local and tourists, and they were all talking about how good their food was.

We must have caught a short lull in the day's business, because we'd no sooner placed our orders than customers started filing through the doors. Some were picking up orders to go, others were grabbing a quick meal before boarding Jacksonville's town trolley.

The friendly gal at the counter and the three people bustling around the small kitchen had it all under control. My Cheeseburger in Paradise with a side of slaw and Rob's Philly cheese steak sandwich with freshly cut fries were brought to our table in no time at all.

The Cheeseburger in Paradise was quite a surprise. No "lettuce, tomato or big kosher dill" on this one. This quarter-pounder was topped with slices of fresh mango, sliced white onion, lettuce and a spicy mango-apricot relish — truly outside of the box as burgers go and quite delicious. Rob's Philly was filled with frizzled beef, grilled onions and grilled red, green and yellow peppers.

All of the sandwiches' ingredients were high quality and fresh. The slaw was above average, too, with fresh green and red cabbage, carrots and pineapple. And Jaspers' menu doesn't leave out the fry sauce.

The fare at the Jacksonville restaurant is much the same as the Medford location. Classic and gourmet burger baskets include fries, salad or slaw and a 16-ounce drink for $7.75. Sandwich prices range from $3.95 for a BLT to $6.50 for a Reuben.

Both restaurants offer buffalo and elk burgers, but I didn't see the salmon burger with raspberry chipotle glaze at the Jacksonville cafè.

The menu at the Jacksonville restaurant serves freshly cut fries, while the Medford location serves ranch and curly fries.

Gourmet hot dogs and kids' meals are available at both locations, along with discount prices on gourmet burger baskets from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Soft drinks, iced tea and hot coffee are available, along with malts and milk shakes.

For all of you die-hard meat lovers, Jaspers offers burgers that weigh in from one-third to two pounds with prices that range from $4.95 to $15.95.

We'll come back to one of Jaspers' locations soon. There are several more gourmet burgers that I'd definitely like to try, such as the one I spotted on Jaspers' Web site called the Gilligan's Island Burger — made with cilantro, ginger leaves and an orange-ginger glaze. Why not?

— Laurie Heuston