Cafe Reviews

Rocket Burger & Subs' Sandwiches Go Down Easy with One of the Restaurant's More Than 200 Brands of Soda

Steve Nash, co-owner and cook at Rocket Burger & Subs isn't a Midwesterner, but he sure as hell slings hash like one.

His chili cheese dog is a delicious mess that made this Detroit girl misty-eyed with memories of Coneys past. Then there's the Wisconsin snack of fried cheese curds. The gooey bits of breaded fried cheese have enough must-have-more-ness in them to give Culver's a run for their money. Farther east, there's The New Yorker Sub: Piled high with Nash's signature cole slaw atop thinly sliced pastrami on a toasted wheat bun with homemade Thousand Island dressing, it's crazy-good -- and at three freakin' bucks for a small, it's the best-tasting sub deal in the Valley.

"You want something to drink with that?"

That's Dennis Green, Rocket Burger's shy but helpful co-owner and longtime friend of Nash's. The two met 22 years ago in Washington State, where Green worked for Nash at a Domino's. Eventually, they both ended up in Phoenix, where Nash was learning to cook at his parents' dude ranch in Wickenburg and Green was working for him (again) at his A&W restaurant. Five months ago, they opened Rocket Burger & Subs.

Oh, and that drink decision? It's a doozy.

What to do with a wall of refrigeration units from a former Latino meat market? Nash and Green have ingeniously stocked them with more than 200 kinds of unique sodas, including chocolate, cream, coffee, and Ramune, as well as Faygo, Jolt, numerous ginger ales, lemonades, and 63 brands of root beer. Green's tried most all of them and will steer you in the right direction.

The interior of Rocket Burger (named for the teams of neighboring Moon Valley High School, where Rocket Burger sponsors the football program) is bare-bones bizarre -- a hanging boom box, a variety of yard sale tables and chairs, and a mural of a rocket painted by a regular. But the inexpensive yet tasty food, featuring Nash's sauces, slaw, chili, and onion rings, is all that matters. And while Fry Girl thinks the burgers could use a little work, tell that to the kid I met there who rides his bike four miles every weekend just to get his miniature mitts on one.

"I guess we do what most guys do: The one that's under the most stress gets picked on the most," Nash laughs about the partnership with Green. "I was worried our friendship might suffer, but now that we've got the first few months out of the way, it's good."

You said it, Rocket Man.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld