Newly opened Killer Burger comes to Scottsdale from Portland. Portland is a city with cachet. The name alone exudes a grunge and glamor, a vibe related to the one that seems to flow from the burger joint’s metal air ducts, indoor string lights, and backyard-ready wooden tables. Killer Burger is a fast-food burger joint for the post-fast-food age.
The Scottsdale location, the chain’s first outside the Northwest, first fired up its grills for the public this past Monday. And already, a line winds to the door at peak lunch hour.
Just inside, house rules leap from a chalkboard. “Party Rules,” the bright letters proclaim.
Rule number one: “Order Beer.”
The beer selection at Killer Burger is legit. An unexpectedly long line of tap handles pour Arizona brews at a level that shows somebody did their homework on what beer folks drink in the Valley. You can choose from breweries like Mother Road and The Shop Beer Co., and from styles like kolsch and double IPA. Some of the taps draw craft beer from outside the state, keeping mostly away from the usual suspects.
Rule number two: “Get a Burger.”
Every burger on the menu comes with bacon. Every burger comes with bottomless fries. Patties are made from grass-fed beef; each is one-third of a pound, and you don’t request how you want your beef cooked.
Choices don’t stray far from the classics. Sure, you’ll see blue cheese and green chiles, and even some peanut butter, but most of the options hew to the burger canon’s time-honored favorites.
The fries are good. They are long and thick and flecked with potato skins on the slanted ends or sides. A coarse salt visibly spots them. It has been flurried on with a heavier hand.
The burgers are solid, not money or fire but someplace a few degrees past middle-of-the-road. The beef has a robust flavor, feels coarsely ground, and provides a bite and primal depth that at times may detour your mind briefly over to steak. Special sauce is used heavily. So is bacon. The beef gets a little lost. The bun looks thick and bready but is nice and pillowy, giving easily, with a softness mirroring the patty’s.
Grilled onions are big fragments with sweetness and life. The heat seekers among us will be bummed to know that the green chiles are about as spicy as orange juice.
Rule number three: “Rock Out.”
There is a thin musical theme to Killer Burger. Speaker-like designs flank beverage dispensers. The place has been made to feel like a cool backyard. Booze flows. Fleetwood Mac ("Dreams") and The Rolling Stones ("Can’t You Hear Me Knocking") suffuse the room along with chatter and the smell of French fries.
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Rule number four: “We Clean the Mess.”
They sure do. And that mess may be big depending on your beers emptied and bottomless fry endurance.
All said, Killer Burger would fit in somewhere in the middle of our burger ranking. It’s worth stopping in to try the funkier burgers beside local brews, and the nice salty fries that make you thirst for them.
Killer Burger. 6977 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale; 480-999-1625.
Daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.