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Yellow Basket

Classic cars call for classic burgers this weekend when the Medford Cruise comes to town. Some who drive or show their 1979 or older cars and trucks at the event will recall Yellow Basket, a restaurant that's sat for 26 years at 163 S. Front St. in Central Point.

It's just five miles from downtown Medford. To get there follow Riverside Avenue and stay to the left while passing the Rogue Valley Mall. Keep following Highway 99 and look for Yellow Basket on the right, just across the street from the Grange Coop's grain elevators. Hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

There are about a dozen variations of burgers on the menu, along with other sandwiches, fries, shakes and floats. Breakfasts of eggs and bacon, ham or sausage, biscuits and gravy, omelettes and pancakes are available until 11 a.m.

Burger prices range from about $3.70 to $7.50 for a triple cheeseburger; sandwiches range from $5.25 to $7.50; and shakes and floats cost $2.95 to $7. Breakfast starts at $3.99 for a half-order of biscuits and gravy to $9.75 for a Denver omelette.

John and Pam Angelopoulos bought Yellow Basket when they moved to the Rogue Valley from Southern California, and they've served what must seem like truckloads of quality food to patrons over the years with the help of their son and daughter.

"My husband needed a job when we came to Oregon," says Pam Angelopoulos. "We saw this place for sale so we bought it. It's been good working together. If you can work with your family, you can work with anyone," she laughs.

The family has roots in Greece, so I wasn't surprised when I noticed a couple of gyros on the menu.

The covered parking in front evokes images of carhops on roller skates delivering food to people in their cars. I heard that might have been the scenario before the Angelopoulos' purchased the burger stand.

These days, the restauran'ts surroundings and interior are a little worn. But sometimes I wonder if the carpet covers what used to be gleaming, black-and-white checked flooring.

One could definitely call the Angelopoulos family's burgers classics. They haven't changed. John Angelopoulos has always bought products from Ray's Meats in Eugene and breads and burger buns from Franz. There are plenty of fresh ingredients to top your burger — bacon, cheese, mushrooms, jalapeno and Anaheim peppers — but you won't find fries tossed with truffle oil here. Expensive, lean meats don't necessarily make a better burger. The secret to that classic flavor is in the fat.

It's been a long time since I've stopped in at Yellow Basket, and I'd forgotten just how good their burgers taste.

I like them with bacon, cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce and pickles. Hold the onions, thank you. And some of those french fries that are golden brown — kind of crunchy on the outside and soft in the center — dipped in cold frie sauce. If you like frie sauce, let them know when you order. A small container costs 35 cents or three for $1.

I topped my order with a small vanilla shake and added malt for 50 cents. My total order, before tip, came to about $10.

The old place could be called slightly out of fashion, but I find it nostalgic, and it serves consistently delicious food. I will make it a point to return whenever I feel that craving — the one that can't be ignored — for a classic burger basket.

Patrons can enjoy Yellow Basket's fare at the counter or in one of the dining rooms at the restaurant. There's also a convenient drive-up window, or you can call 541-664-6508 to pick up an order.

— Laurie Heuston

Yellow Basket’s classic takes on hamburgers and cheeseburgers include toasted sesame buns. - Photo by Laurie Heuston