These Restaurants Aren't Burger Joints. But They Serve Some of the Best In the Valley

Burger specials are on deck at Liberty Market.
Burger specials are on deck at Liberty Market. Liberty Market
It's hard to find anything more classic and comforting than a good old burger and fries. There's no shortage of specialty burger places in the Valley, from ubiquitous fast food chains to trendy burger bars, and hip barbecue joints.

But this is a list for those wanting to dig a bit deeper and discover unique and unexpected burgers served at metro Phoenix's non-burger joints. These seven restaurants sling burgers with gourmet twists, unique sides, and plenty of options for those dining with non-burger eaters.

FEZ on Central

105 West Portland Street
Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, FEZ is a hip and vibrant restaurant and bar well-known for its exciting drinks and martinis. The restaurant is decorated with a Moroccan-style vibe complete with jewel-tone colors, paper lanterns, and a health-centric menu featuring greens, hummus, curry, and quinoa.

Unexpectedly, Fez slings some of the best burgers in the Valley. Whether you pick the Fez Burger, made with spicy molasses barbecue sauce, pears, and feta, the Marrakesh Burger, made with sour cream, onion, peppadew peppers, and goat cheese, or the Tangier Burger, made with hummus, basil pesto, Manchego cheese, roasted tomato, and red onion, it's impossible to go wrong.

FEZ also has a couple of more basic options, and all burgers are half-pound patties served with a side of fries or a green salad. Both the regular fires and the cinnamon sweet potato fries are mouth-watering. Burgers here are served on ciabatta bread and start at $17. Pita, a classic bun, or lettuce-wrapped styles are available too.

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The Commander Burger at The Gladly.
Melissa Parker

The Gladly

2201 East Camelback Road
At The Gladly, Citizen Public House's sister restaurant, the signature menu item is the Original Chopped Salad. And while many customers wouldn't think of ordering anything else, it's worth it to try the burgers.

The Commander Burger is $18 on the standard lunch and dinner menu but can be snagged for only $12 on happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. A beautifully plated burger, The Commander is a hearty chuck and brisket blend. It comes with either a side salad or thick-cut fries. Wash it down with a selection from the impressive full bar complete with over 300 types of whiskey.

Chelsea's Kitchen

5040 North Fortieth Street
Chelsea's Kitchen, which is known for its Southwest-inspired dishes and Mexican food, serves a spicy green chile burger that packs a punch. The burger is $17 and comes with freshly roasted green chiles and Tillamook cheddar.

The burgers at Chelsea's Kitchen come with a side of fries, yanks, or fresh vegetables. Yanks, short for Yankees, are 1800s-style breakfast potatoes, thickly cut with a crispy outside and warm center.

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The El Chapo Burger at Social Hall.
AWE Collective

Social Hall

715 South McClintock Drive, Tempe
Close to Mill Avenue and downtown Tempe, this unique destination is popular for those looking to eat, drink, and play games. With lots of exposed brick, a prominent bar inside, cozy Adirondack chairs, a fire pit, and oversized games such as Connect Four and Jenga, Social Hall is welcoming and fun. Crowds tend to gather around the area with a billiards table and old-school arcade games like Pac-Man and Skee-Ball.

On the menu, the tacos, wings, and nachos are expected and popular, but Social Hall also has impressive burgers. Social Hall's menu is largely Mexican-inspired and the burgers are no exception, with the El Chapo being the stand-out.

The El Chapo burger is a grilled Creekstone beef patty with bacon, smoked cheddar, garlic aioli, pickles, lettuce, and tomato for $16. Burgers come with shoestring, truffle, sweet potato, or our pick, waffle fries. Enjoy a fully stocked bar and save room for indulgent Bavarian Cream Churros for dessert. 

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The sliders at Ling & Louie's.
Melissa Parker

Ling & Louie's Asian Bar & Grill

9397 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale and 5040 Wild Horse Pass Boulevard
Asian Fusion spot, Ling & Louie's serves one of the best desserts in the Valley, the strawberry cheesecake eggrolls. On the main menu, a typical order might be New Wave Pad Thai or Ling's Seafood Hot Pot, but the burgers are just as drool-worthy.

Order the Loaded Sliders with sliced flat iron steak, candied bacon, bleu cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion for $13 with three sliders to share between the table or eat as a meal. The sliders are saucy and can get messy, but are worth it. At happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. add on some savory parmesan topped fries for $5. They're served in a big portion that comes with ketchup and siracha mayo.

If looking for a lunch option, get the Big Burger in Little China. For $15, this burger comes with garlic-parmesan fries and is a marinated patty topped with cucumber salad, Chinese sausage, and hoisin barbecue sauce.

Liberty Market

230 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert
Now a unique all-day breakfast, lunch, and dinner restaurant in historic Gilbert, Liberty Market was originally a grocery store. Recently, the restaurant evolved again with an ambitious renovation. When customers walk in, one of the most prominent features is the staff member hand tossing pizza dough behind the counter.

Liberty Market is well-loved for its stacked cases of delicious baked pastries and sweets, its full coffee bar, and its creative pizzas. But the burgers stand strong with the Tower Burger being our go-to choice. The Tower Burger comes with fries and is a half-pound chuck patty topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and chipotle aioli on a grilled Kona bun. The 'tower' namesake comes from the tower of toppings served on a stick when the dish arrives.  Liberty Market also offers an Impossible Burger substitution for those avoiding meat.

The Collins Small Batch Kitchen

3160 East Camelback Road
The Collins Small Batch Kitchen, a restaurant from local chef and restaurateur Christopher Collins, has a rotating menu based on fresh and in-season ingredients. With its modern, lounge-style setting, complete with big comfy chairs and booths, the restaurant gets busy, so reservations are recommended. Seafood offerings and specialty cocktails make this spot a gourmet destination, but the burgers stand on their own.

The King's Burger comes with shoe-string fries and tasty Collins Slaw rather than lettuce, as well as bacon and bleu cheese, all served on a Noble brioche bun.  For $19, it's one of the pricier burgers on the list, but well worth it. If looking for a deal, try the Shaved Prime & Brie sliders for $10 on the Social Hour menu which runs from 4 to 6 p.m. daily. 
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Melissa Parker is a freelance writer for the Phoenix New Times. Originally from New York, she has strong opinions on pizza and deeply appreciates Arizona's abundance of tacos. She primarily writes food articles and specializes in local restaurants and breweries.
Contact: Melissa Parker