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Burger Spot is a fun, filling stop for young and old alike

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A kids’ cheeseburger comes with all the fixings at Burger Spot in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
A chicken breast can be substituted for the beef or veggie patty on any burger at Burger Spot in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Root beer floats are served in chilled mugs at Burger Spot in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Classic root beer floats are served amid rock music and pop culture memorabilia at Burger Spot in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Pinball provides entertainment at Burger Spot in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.

Southern Oregon has no shortage of spots — from slick nationwide chains to well-trodden local favorites — for grabbing a burger.

And then there’s Medford’s Burger Spot, aspiring to entertainment venue and all-ages hangout in its new, larger location. Surrounded by memorabilia from my childhood and entranced by retro arcade games, my kids and I recently chose Burger Spot for a Saturday diversion, a visit that also suggested date-night potential for grownups.

The eatery on Veterans Day hosted its first open mic and plans to welcome more music, poetry and comedy from the public Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. A small stage showcases these events inside the former Jackson Creek Pizza on East Main Street. Where the pizzeria had a “game room,” Burger Spot installed couches, a television screen and faux fireplace for a “lounge” in view of the stage.

Adult beverages would be likely companions in the lounge. And while Burger Spot’s beer and wine lists are brief, they accommodate the majority preference for lager, pale ale, cider and red and white wines.

For a lunch date with kids, a root beer float was essential. The $5 price tag rewarded us with a treat made just the way I like it: lots of vanilla ice cream barely submerged by root beer and crowned with bubbly foam in a chilled mug. Once we sipped down some of the soda, our meals’ free fountain refills allowed for adding a bit more root beer.

Combo meals come with a choice of fries or tater tots, plus a standard soda or sparkling water from a separate beverage cooler. With the root beer float on order, I hesitated over making mine a combo meal until both my kids insisted they wanted fries instead of tater tots.

And if the kitchen hadn’t been out of onion rings, I would have indulged in an entire basket ($8). I briefly considered substituting sweet potato fries but rarely have been impressed with restaurant versions of the more wholesome spud.

My 6- and 8-year-old boys are budding cheeseburger aficionados, courtesy of their school’s cafeteria. No kids’ chicken bites ($4.99) or grilled cheese baskets ($3.99) for them. And I wouldn’t even consider suggesting a corndog ($2) to my younger son, for whom no amount of school corndogs can convince him of this icon’s appeal to the average kid.

Something of a veggie aficionado, he ordered his cheeseburger with the works: lettuce, onion, pickle and tomato. Make that just lettuce and pickle for my older son, who’s made considerable strides beyond the ketchup-only stage.

Less inclined toward the full complement of burger toppings — and burgers, in general — I adore the combination of grilled mushrooms and melted Swiss in almost any format. There’s also a bacon cheeseburger, “western barbecue,” jalapeno-pineapple and grilled onion cheeseburger, each $9.99. Making it a combo adds about $4 to the price. A basic burger costs $7.99, a cheeseburger $8.99. Adding bacon costs $1, an extra patty $2.

I misinterpreted the menu, inferring a chicken patty alternative to beef and vegetarian patties. The cashier’s inquiry whether I wanted it breaded should have tipped me off. But when my combo meal arrived, the protein was a thick piece of chicken breast, not the patty I had anticipated.

Regardless, the meat was well-seasoned and substantial enough to keep the cheese from overwhelming the sandwich. I wished for a few more mushrooms, although with my choice of tomato and pickle, there wasn’t room for much more between the toasted bun.

Burger Spot touts its buns as freshly made each day, and they were indeed a cut above supermarket varieties that some eateries serve. Gluten-free buns also are available.

Sparing hardly a glance at their fries, my kids devoured their cheeseburgers, proclaiming them the “best ever.” In my older son’s estimation, the lettuce and pickles were “perfect.” I had to agree the fresh piece of green leaf lettuce held much more appeal than shredded.

It’s the little flourishes — borrowed from competitors and made better — that define Burger Spot. The shaker of salty, savory seasoning on every table elevates fries, tots and their ilk, along with rich, creamy fry sauce, generously offered in a plastic squeeze bottle instead of single serving cups. And Burger Spot conscientiously brings the sauce, ketchup, mustard and ranch with each order instead of leaving them to languish on the tables.

After eight years and three moves, the proprietors clearly know their clientele. From a location close to the Medford library and Rogue Community College classrooms, Burger Spot moved a couple of years later next door to a poker room before leapfrogging in October across East Main Street.

The rock ’n’ roll albums and similar decor from Burger Spot’s former digs have proliferated in its new accommodation. In keeping with the theme are a pinball machine and vintage “Donkey Kong” and “Space Invaders” coin-operated game, which my kids recognized from the Netflix documentary “High Score.” A word of caution: The coin-operated cabinet consumed quarters without registering a credit.

Located at 317 E. Main St., Burger Spot is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, until 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Call 541-734-9996. See medfordburgerspot.com

Tempo Tidbits

Today is food truck customers’ last day “pho” 2021 to get Vietnam’s iconic noodle soup from Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen.

Medford’s Fry Family Farm Store is hosting Truffle Pig from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at 2184 Ross Lane. Chef Skyler Golden plans such Asian-inspired dishes as “spring roll salad,” “crab Rangoon burger” and street tacos filled with Brussels sprouts and miso-ginger sauce, in addition to beef noodle pho, from $12 to $14.

Favoring locally grown produce and artisan ingredients, Truffle Pig rotates its menus with the seasons and offers its services for catering and special events. See facebook.com/TheTrufflePigCraftKitchen

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Biscuits and gravy are among the specialties at a new Medford bakery.

CakeBar & Bakery opened in late October at 915 W. McAndrews Road. Hours are 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Chef Cassi Leland produces cupcakes, croissants, cinnamon rolls, macarons, quiche, soft pretzels and more. Previously, she sold baked goods at Central Point’s Pine Street Marketplace and The Palms Cafe.

Leland is working on a build-your-own cake option with walk-in customers’ choices of frostings and toppings. The bakery also boasts a play kitchen for kids.

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Sunday service is back at Medford’s Common Block Brewing Company.

The downtown restaurant with expansive indoor and outdoor seating resumed daily operations, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., last week. Common Block is at 315 E. Fifth St.

November’s special burger features a turkey patty, chipotle cranberry sauce and Brie with fries for $14. Online orders, including growlers, are eligible for delivery within Medford. Growler delivery also is available between Phoenix and Ashland.

See commonblockbrewing.com/beer-food-delivery or call 541-326-2277.

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Southern Oregon’s German restaurant will be closed until spring.

Schoolhaus Brewhaus at Jacksonville’s Bigham Knoll announced its winter “break” last week on social media. Anticipating the return of “better conditions” in several months, restaurateurs detailed plans for enhancing the building’s outdoor beer garden, finishing a members’ only sports court, launching its exclusive “bark park” and laying the foundation for a new “flowers and farmers market.”

Founded in 2010 as the region’s first German eatery in almost two decades, the Schoolhaus reopened in June after a six-month closure. The restaurant in summer 2020 attempted to shed its German identity for a casual, almost cafeteria-style “grill,” where customers could dine “at a distance” anywhere on the sprawling, 7-acre campus. But German sausages, schnitzel and other specialties composed its most recent menu.

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Have a Tempo tidbit to share? Email news about the local dining, food and beverage scene to: thewholedish@gmail.com

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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole.dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.