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Great bacon cheeseburger choices

Four months ago, Oregon's first In-N-Out Burger appeared in Medford, and Oregonians from all corners of the state braved drive-thru waits of over two hours and lines that stretched well onto the sidewalk. The Oregonian and national news outlets fed into the hype, and in my enthusiasm to enjoy a milkshake at 10:30 a.m., I may have appeared on CBS News coverage of opening day, Sept. 8, 2015.  

The hype in my adopted hometown is exciting, but it's also polarizing. Our readership consists of both locavores and In-N-Out fanatics, so in consideration of both, I'll address one of the most factual complaints about In-N-Out: there's no bacon. It's not on the minimalist menu, nor is bacon on the chain's "Not-So-Secret Menu." 

But the Rogue Valley has some other great hamburger choices that will gladly oblige requests for America's favorite pork product on their burger.

Flip

With locally sourced ingredients and hip gourmet twists on fast-food staples, Flip has become one of my favorite burger spots since it opened last summer at 92 N. Main St., Ashland.

Now that Ashland's tourist season is behind us until spring, the town goes back to the locals and wait times drop dramatically. When I visited on a Monday afternoon for my bacon cheeseburger and fries, I was the only person in the restaurant. After ordering a burger with Rogue Creamery Touvelle cheese and bacon, fries and a soda, the friendly associate moved me automatically into their "Flippin' Deal," (starts at $10, adding bacon and cheese brought mine to $11.75 plus tax). I could see the cook put the locally sourced beef patty on the grill as I put in my order.

The juicy burger was served on a freshly baked and grilled brioche bun, and came with fresh onion, tomato and a pickle. The fries were made from fresh potatoes that had been double blanched to make them crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. 

The restaurant doesn't serve Coke or Pepsi, instead they have Boylan's cane sugar sodas on tap. I got their Cane Cola, which had more defined citrus, vanilla and cinnamon flavors, and was slightly less sweet than standard sodas. They served it in a smaller cup than most places, and it's meant to be savored.

On top of everything else the spot did right, it's worth noting that Flip simply nails its presentation. The burger arrived on a lined aluminum tray wrapped in a stylish custom printed wrapper. The word "artisanal" may be overused, but the stylish and handmade touches made a positive impression throughout.

Jasper's Cafe

With a selection of more than 30 gourmet burgers on the menu, plus steak dogs, salads and sides, there's little wonder why the little restaurant with big burgers continually tops the Mail Tribune's Readers' Choice awards. There's plenty to choose from, making the restaurant, at 2739 N. Pacific Highway, Medford, a crowd pleaser.

Because I was focusing on bacon cheeseburgers, I tried the Smokey and the Bandit burger ($7.99) and small order of fries ($2.25). The burger came topped with smoked Gouda cheese and bacon, and added a chipotle aioli spread. Lettuce, sliced red onion and tomatoes were all present and accounted for. 

If you know what you want, I recommend calling in orders ahead of time at 541-776-5307. I thought late Saturday would be an off-peak time to drop in for a burger, but so did a lot of others. I could hardly find a parking spot when I visited. The dining room was packed, and it was too cold for outdoor seating, so I ordered my burger and fries to go. They told me they'd bring it out to my car when it was ready, but after a wait of close to 30 minutes in my car, I was back at the register with my receipt, concerned they had lost my order.

They were just melting the cheese when I came in, and it was only another minute or so. The fries were hot and fresh, and I loved the aioli on the burger, although my patty may have spent a little more time on the grill than it was supposed to. The bacon was cooked just right, though.

My previous Jasper's visits have made a stronger impression, but the combination of ingredients and wealth of choices make the restaurant worth a visit.

— Nick Morgan

A bacon cheeseburger with fries at Flip in Ashland. Mail Tribune / Nick Morgan