When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Hopdoddy Burger Bar Location: 11055 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale Open: One week Eats: Burgers Price: $11 to $30 per person
The burgers at Hopdoddy's are kind of like the Foo Fighters: Better than most rock bands out there at the moment but not going to make you forget the Rolling Stones anytime soon.
Which isn't a slam against the place. The burgers at the stylish Austin-based eatery (from the owners of Roaring Fork and Salty Sow) are actually quite good. They probably won't replace your sit-down restaurant favorite, but they're solid enough that, for counter-service eats, they already rival some of the best in town.
There are 12 styles of Hopdoddy burgers on the tidy menu -- well-balanced creations layered with ingredients like all-natural Black Angus Beef, sushi-grade tuna, Tillamook cheddar, truffle aioli, and roasted poblanos on scratch-made buns.
If you inquire after which one to try, there's a good chance a friendly staff member will tell you the turkey burger known as the Continental Club ($8). And you should try it. On par with its beefy brethren, this surprisingly solid creation is layered with a well-seasoned, juicy turkey patty, applewood-smoked bacon, and a basil-mayo pesto along with provolone and arugula on a pillowy but sturdy wheat bun.
Mushroom lovers could do worse than the Magic Shroom ($8.50), featuring field fungi, gooey goat cheese, and mayo-basil pesto atop a thick, well-flavored Angus beef patty. The earthy, meaty burger was perfectly prepared to my medium-rare temperature request. Kudos.
Thinking about fries? Of course you are. Hopefully, you've brought a friend that's thinking about them, too, because the serving at Hopdoddy is huge.
Thin, firm, and crisp, Hopdoddy's fries, made from Kinnebec spuds (the same variety In-n-Out Burger uses), are very good. Order them with an addictive cup of creamy, beefy, and cheesy chili con queso ($6) and you may wonder why this kicked-up combination isn't available everywhere.
And just when you think your meal is coming to a close, the brown paper-covered trays cleared and the last of your Four Peaks Kiltlifter one swig away, you will hear there are milkshakes. Like the burgers, they are a manageable size, made with a homemade custard mix and topped with real-deal whipped cream. The Nutella and chocolate pretzel combination ($5.50) is like heaven sucked through a jumbo-size straw.
Hopdoddy's bright, inviting room was packed when I popped in over the weekend. A long of North Scottsdale burger fans extended from the ordering counter, past the central bar, nearly to the door, and then, eventually, beyond it and to outside the building. (Cheat note: If there's space at the full-service bar, snag it and save yourself the hassle).
Not that it fazes the well-trained staff, who work together like a well-oiled machine. The kitchen deftly churns out dishes without opening week wait times, and efficient, front-of-the-house folks pause to stop and answer questions or chat with guests in a manner that belies the ever-present crowds behind them.
A staff member told me the line has been fairly consistent since Hopdoddy's opening last Wednesday, adding, "Sometimes we pass out samples of margaritas or shakes to make waiting more fun."
I'll be looking forward to another bite, soon.
Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Phoenix® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.