As I finished up a burger recently, I did the full teardown with my a dining friend.
Spongy bun. Prefab patty. Lettuce from a bag. Dull condiments. Limp freezer fries on the side.
He asked, “How much was that?”
Ten bucks and 29 cents, my friends, which was about two bucks too much considering the uninspired, prefab ingredients.
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So when a burger joint opens and I can get a hamburger made with fresh beef, crinkle-cut fries with a solid sauce and a small shake made with real-and-actual fruit for $7.07, that restaurant has my attention.
Enter Beefy’s Burgers, which opened in mid-February in Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue neighborhood.
On the plus side: It’s cheap and the burgers are sloppy good.
On the downside: It’s in a neighborhood saturated with burger joints. Spanky’s and Goofy Goose operate nearby, and Frisko Freeze and Shake Shake Shake are a short car ride away (among others).
Beefy’s has some work ahead to carve itself out as something different in a neighborhood where diners are happy to tell you — loudly — about their favorite burger spot.
That’s where owner Robert Stocker thinks his business plan will help him differentiate. His idea is to serve a fresh-beef burger at a low cost at a high volume. He knows a little something about burgers. He also owns Shake Shake Shake in the Stadium neighborhood.
Stylistically, the burger restaurants read like different books. Shake Shake Shake trends toward the gourmet category with a roadside-style burger gussied up with flavor-walloped ingredients and a price matching those fancier ingredients. Beefy’s Burgers skews more low-tech with spare menu items and spare prices to match.
Here’s a first-bite look at Beefy’s Burgers. As I like to remind readers, it’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
The dining room: Stocker’s background as an artist is on display with a retro red-and-white dining room that’s as striking as it is comfortable.
Former life: The space housed Fish Fish Fish from April to August last year. Stocker also owned that restaurant but flipped the concept to burgers because Fish3 didn’t meet his expectations. He plans to open a cocktail lounge, Boom Boom Room, next door.
The menu: Succinct with only a hamburger ($2.79 single/$3.99 double), cheeseburger ($3.09/$4.29) or a deluxe burger ($3.63 to $3.93 for a single/$4.83 to $5.13 for a double).
There’s also one size of fries ($1.99), a corn dog ($2.29 single/$3.78 for two) and hot dog ($2.29). Shakes include chocolate, vanilla and real-fruit strawberry ($2.29 for a 12-ounce and $3.29 for a 16-ounce) and a specialty flavor that rotates ($2.99 to $3.99).
Beware the upcharge: Fry sauce runs 49 cents, with other condiments carrying an upcharge.
Burger style: There are minimalist burger lovers who want a beef-forward experience with condiments applied sparingly. Then there are those who want their burgers messy-sloppy-drippy. Beefy’s burgers fall into the “I need to go change my shirt” category with the burger sauce shooting out of the bun and onto you if you’re not careful.
Get saucy: For diners who believe it’s the special sauce that makes the burger, this is the place for you. Stocker’s housemade all purpose burger-and-fry sauce is deliciously heavy on the pucker with a backbone of relish in a creamy base that has more deep tang. His kitchen crew applies it liberally with a doubled-up-pucker of pickle chips on the deluxes.
Burger basics: American cheese is the only cheese choice. Fresh-beef burgers are grilled on a flat top. Hamburgers and cheeseburgers come with a slap of burger sauce and that’s it. Deluxes are built with that delightful combination of house sauce and pickles, shredded iceberg, diced onions, with or without cheese. Buns carry the requisite well-toasted crunch.
Those fries: A big bag of perfectly fried crinkle-cut fries? Sign me up. I used those fries as a delivery vehicle to jam more of that tangy secret sauce into my mouth (but beware that upcharge).
Corn dog and hot dog: A basic corn dog comes with mustard ($2.29) and a split-and-grilled hot dog is built plain with no condiments, so order up ($2.29).
Portion size: Price is relative to size here, so you’ll pay to eat big. The deluxe burgers are one-eighth pound singles ($3.63 to $3.93) and one-quarter pound doubles ($4.83 to $5.13). The small shakes are what other restaurants would call kid-sized, at 12 ounces.
All of the above was all fine by me because I’m trying to live my best life as a portion-control master. The mileage will vary for big eaters.
In a town where it’s nearly impossible to feed a family of four at a restaurant for $25 at anything but a crummy chain spot, I applaud Stocker for offering an independent restaurant experience with a fun atmosphere, good ingredients and an affordable price.
Those shakes: Made with the same ice cream as the shakes at sister restaurant Shake Shake Shake. The chocolate was so thick, I needed a spoon. Real berries are blended into the strawberry version.
Where: 3018 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
Info: 253-263-7272, bit.ly/2Gw9LDQ
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday