I found burger goodness at Flip-N-Out Burger, which opened today in the building that the 12th Street Diner once occupied (across the street from Mandolin Cafe).
Flip-N-Out is an independently owned restaurant that seems as if it could hold much burger promise. Along with Burgerville and Sonic, I can see Flip-N-Out Burger becoming one of my go-to burger places if my first impression holds steady. It might even join the burger ranks of locally revered burger places like Friesenburgers and Pick Quick and Little Holland.
I've been keeping an eye on the building for a few weeks since the 12th Street Diner closed and the Flip-N-Out sign went up (the burger sign looks sort of similar to the In-N-Out burger logo, doesn't it?).
Last week, a worker at Flip-N-Out said they would open yesterday, but as things go in the restaurant world, they were a day delayed. Today was their opening. My dining partner and I just so happened to be their first customers, too.
I knew I was in great burger hands when I saw the cook slap down a thick, hand-formed burger patty on the grill. My dining partner asked about the meatiness of the hand-formed patty and the cook reported over the counter that they grind their own meat on site. For joy! Hand-formed patties? A place that has its own meat grinder? Be still my burger lovin' heart.
The next sign of burger joint nirvana: hand-cut, fresh fries. The woman at the counter told us that she had spent all morning peeling the potatoes.
The proof of care was in the product. The bacon cheeseburger ($4.09) with the works (mayo, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, bacon, American cheese) was delicious, juicy and dripping with great burger flavor. The beef had just the right amount of fat for making a juicy burger, but it wasn't overkill in a greasy gut bomb way. I appreciated the burger was served on a buttered, toasted bun (there is an automatic bun toaster behind the counter that is annoyingly squeaky). My only complaint was processed American cheese instead of real cheddar. I forgot to ask if they offer cheddar, though.
The fries ($2.69) were thin cut and crispy fried, a nice change from the typical crinkle-cut freezer fries. They served them up in a paper cup.
I like that Flip-N-Out burger doesn't nail diners with all the up-charges for extras like onions and mushrooms. You can get a pretty messy burger there if you get it loaded with even half the free condiments: ketchup, relish, mustard, onions, lettuce, hot sauce, grilled onions, bar-b-q sauce, tomatoes, steak sauce, mayo, jalapeno peppers, pickles, green peppers and grilled mushrooms. Another freebie: a box of peanuts for munching while you wait for your order.
There is plenty of room to sit and eat in two dining rooms (one with roll-up garage doors), and there's also outside patio seating for alfresco burger enjoyment.
Menu overview: Burgers in single and double sizes, priced $3.39-$5.89. Fries, soda and shakes. Also, kosher hot dogs, cheese dogs, bacon dogs and veggie dogs, priced $2.49-$4.09
If you stop by for a burger, be sure to report back what you thought.
WHERE: 4008 S. 12th St., Tacoma
Freebie peanuts are for the taking in the dining room.
The menu at Flip-N-Out burger.