First Taste

Former Oregano's Execs Open Rehab Burger Therapy in Old Town

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: Rehab Burger Therapy Location: 7210 East Second Street Open: Less than a week. Eats: Burgers, sandwiches, salads, pasta. Price Point: $11 to $20 a person.

For those who might be wondering what former Oregano's executives do when corporate life kicks them in the ass, please direct your attention to Rehab Burger Therapy in Old Town Scottsdale.

The project of Ken Likewise, Denise Nelson, and Wiley Arnett (all former Oregano's executives who were with the company for nearly 20 years), Rehab serves up burgers and other American eats in a casual beach-themed atmosphere. The restaurant is located in the former home of Bonfire Grill, which closed in January.

Rehab officially opens today, but I popped in during their soft opening to try a few bites.

Due to the soft opening, my menu selections were limited, but I'm told folks can expect a selection of starters, sandwiches, pasta, salads, and, of course, burgers -- a specialty of chef Ken Likewise.

My Hatch Chile Burger ($10.50) may not have looked the prettiest, but it sure was tasty. A 10-ounce patty of well-seasoned USDA ground chuck was perfectly prepared to my specification of medium-rare (something that hasn't happened on my last few burger orders at other restaurants, where my burgers been overcooked) and paired well with a spicy grilled Hatch chile and a layer of melted cheddar. A side of chipotle aioli was missing but wasn't needed, anyway; and although the wheat bun was satisfactory, I would have preferred another, less-hearty option had others been available.

For fans of the "drunk fish," there's a good pescado borracho ($9.50) made of Corona beer-battered cod between thick slices of grilled bread. Lightly battered and not greasy, the taste of the fish shines through and there are several chunky pieces to enjoy. I could have done without the slice of Colby Jack cheese -- in this case, I'm not sure it was necessary -- but did enjoy the slices of avocado (make sure you ask for them).

Sides of fries fared better than housemade chips, which needed to be crispier. Watch out for the signature spicy ketchup -- a little dab goes a long way. And for those who like their key lime pie ($6) on the tangy side, Rehab serves up a nice one with lovely graham crust.

The interior, half the size of the former Bonfire, is set up like a fun, casual island party with flat-screen televisions showing sports, surf movies, or digital swimming fish with surfboards and beach-cruising bikes hanging from the ceiling or mounted on brightly colored walls. There's also a bar and a small outdoor patio.

Service is knowledgeable and friendly, and it's likely one or more of the owners will be on hand to say hello. On my visit, co-owner Wiley Arnett (also lead guitarist for the Arizona-based metal band Sacred Reich) stopped by to chat and my server mentioned the owners hope to add more Rehab Burger Therapy locations in the next few years.

Looks like they're already off to a pretty good start.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld