Chow Bella

Joe's Farm Grill's Fresh as Can Be Fontina Burger

Deep in the Southeast Valley, you'll find 12 acres of farmland known as Agritropia. The urban farm produces vegetables and herbs, making it a great place for a restaurant; hence, Joe's Farm Grill was born.

With thickets of trees all around, Joe's may be a bit difficult to locate, but once you do find the entrance, you won't want to leave.

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The menu stretches from breakfast in the mornings to hand-picked salads and smoked barbecue for lunch and dinner. But, as usual, I'm here for the burger.

Out of the four burgers to choose from (five, if you count the veggie burger, but come on), I chose the most unusual: the Fontina Burger. The burger was draped in fontina cheese with red peppers, mushrooms, arugula, and farm-made pecan pesto.

The Patty: 7.5 Just like at a diner-style joint, the burger came out within five minutes, but the patty was a much higher quality than any diner food I had ever tasted. The all-natural Arizona beef is grilled just long enough to be pink all the way through. While the six-ounce patty may be a little thin, what it lacks in size it makes up for in taste, with a tenderness and juiciness that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

The Toppings: 8.5 I never thought I would use the phrase "fresh off the farm" literally, but aside from the intensely flavored fontina, all of the toppings are exactly that. The tender, grilled mushrooms added some extra texture and flavor. Add on a few freshly picked roasted red peppers and sprinkle on a few stems of arugula for a little zest. What makes this burger special is the pesto. And not just any kind of pesto, but thick pecan pesto, which gives the burger a richer taste.

The Bun: 5 The bun was the least satisfactory part of the burger, though not because it lacked in flavor. In fact, it was fluffy, and freshly made, but it just took away from all the other great tastes of the burger. The fresh farm-made ingredients are tasty, but the bun seemed to soak up the entire flavor. I hope God will forgive me for saying this, but this is one burger that may have been better with a lettuce wrap or eaten with a fork and knife.

The Side: 9 After ordering a burger with mostly vegetables on it, I don't think I could have lived with myself if I didn't get something completely unhealthy as my side. So after a long internal debate I chose the garlic fries over the onion rings and, though I haven't had the onion rings, I still know that it was a fantastic decision. The golden brown fries were drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with garlic, herbs, and tiny clumps of Pecorino Romano, dunked in ranch dressing to complete the dish.

The Price: 8.5 For a burger with such high-quality ingredients, $10 is a steal. The garlic fries raise the price an extra dollar or so, but this isn't the time to start being chintzy.

Overall: 7.7 Joe's Farm Grill lives up to its reputation and will only make it food with the freshest ingredients possible: literally. Normally, when ordering a burger I like to get a couple strips of bacon or something fried on top, but Joe's has made me realize that sometimes the best burger ingredients are picked right from the ground.

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David Holden
Contact: David Holden