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Joe's Sports Bar & Grill

Every neighborhood needs a hangout — a comfortable place to grab a beer, eat some fried foods, maybe watch a game.

Joe's Sports Bar & Grill, 2061 Roberts Road, in Medford is just that sort of place.

It has ample seating, more televisions than one person can watch at a time without going cross-eyed, and walls covered with sports memorabilia. It has a decent selection of domestic beers and microbrews on tap. It even has a neon "Eat at Joe's" sign behind the bar.

The menu features classic American fare — burgers, sandwiches, salads. There's an extensive array of appetizers, primarily the fried finger-food variety that pairs perfectly with televised sports. The dinner menu includes steak, ribs, fish and chips, and even pasta primavera.

Quality shows, even in simple bar standards, though.

My husband and I have dropped in several times this summer.

Sitting at one of the tall tables in the center of the restaurant, it's easy to keep an eye on most of the 19 separate screens showing baseball, golf, auto racing, sports talk, football exhibition games and an infomercial of Mr. T hawking some bizarre cooking appliance. Oh, the wonders of cable television!

A plate of nachos sounded perfect for sharing on our first visit, and Joe's offers them topped with beef, chicken or chili for $9.25 for a full order or $7.95 for a half order. Our choice was chicken.

Flavorful chunks of spicy chicken were layered on crispy chips, topped with a blend of melted cheeses and mounds of salsa and sour cream.

Always a fan of melted cheese, I had to try the "Italian nachos" on another visit. Lasagna noodles, boiled and then fried to crispness, replace tortilla chips as the base for this creative twist on a favorite, priced at $7.95. The crunchy morsels were loaded with a savory marinara sauce, gobs of melted mozzarella, pepperoni slices and olives — perfect for anyone who has ever had the urge to devour all the toppings off a pizza. This is your chance, with no pale, bare crust left behind.

Stopping by for lunch one day, my husband was tempted by a plate of mini burritos offered as a special for $5.95. The tortillas wrapping a mixture of beans and cheese were fried to a golden lightness that avoided all greasiness.

I had to at least sample something that wasn't fried or smothered in melted cheese. I ordered a chicken Caesar wrap for $8.45 that was stuffed with fresh romaine, tender pieces of chicken breast and a hearty sprinkling of parmesan. It was accompanied by a pile of perfect, slim French fries, which were nicely seasoned with a crispy outside and a hearty center.

Joe's sandwiches — a reuben, a club, some wraps and other classics all priced between $8.45 and $9.45 — come with a choice of green salad, potato salad, soup or fries. I'd recommend the fries, but I was glad to see good, quality greens with a just-right amount of dressing in my wrap.

Joe's burger options sound promising, too. They all start with a hand-made patty weighing in at one-third of a pound. An ordinary cheeseburger costs $7.95, but that's just the beginning. Consider an Oklahoma burger topped with bacon, onion rings, barbecue sauce and cheese; a San Francisco burger with avocado, roasted red pepper and Swiss cheese; or a Boston burger with gorgonzola and bacon. If you've got a good cardiologist, try a Super Bowl burger with ham, cheese and a fried egg.

I don't know if I'm up for that, but I'm sure my husband and I will return to Joe's, especially when football season starts. During Monday Night Football, I might even dive into the dinner menu.

— Anita Burke