Essentials

The Essential Burger in Tempe Cooked Over an Open Flame

Have you eaten this classic Tempe burger?
Have you eaten this classic Tempe burger? Patricia Escarcega
Welcome to The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.

23: The Big One at The Chuckbox

First thing's first: The Chuckbox is cash only. It’s common knowledge around Arizona State University, but that fact may be less known in other parts of the Valley.

Now that you’ve hit the ATM, look forward to The Chuckbox’s proven formula. Mesquite broiled burger patties are cooked to order over an open flame, and you dress your burger yourself at the fixings bar in the Western-themed dining room. Hold the pickles or pile them on – totally up to you. The go-to here is a 1/3-pound burger simply called “The Big One,” but also known as “Our pride and joy.” There’s also “The Great Big One," which clocks in at a half-pound of meat.


The menu also offers other burgers like the Tijuana Torpedo, the popular chicken breast sandwich, hot dogs, chicken strips, hot wings, sides like Chuckbox potatoes, beer-battered onion rings, and Rice Krispy treats. The only other decision you have to make before hitting the fixings bar is choice of bun (white or whole wheat), and cheese (American, cheddar, jalapeno jack, or Swiss).

The drink menu features draft beer and a small selection of wine, in addition to soft drinks and root beer on draft.

Big Juan, a designated “Professor of Broilogy," oversees operations at The Chuckbox, which has been serving burgers at this spot in Tempe for more than 35 years.

The Chuckbox’s primo location at the northeast corner of Forest Avenue and University Drive can be a blessing and a curse to the many ASU students coursing through the area. On certain days, one could pick up the scent of cooking burger patties as far as the W. P. Carey School of Business.

The Chuckbox is open from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays – but you better call first for summer hours. Call-in orders are encouraged at 480-968-4712. Visit The Chuckbox website for more information.

The Essentials so far:
50: Tequila Sunrise at the Arizona Biltmore.
49: "Dragon" Dumpling Burger at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.
48: Dizzy Fig Empanada at Republica Empanada.
47: Linguine Carbonara at Avanti.
46: The Food Court at Mercado de los Cielos.
45: Chicken Feta Salad at George’s Kitchen.
44: Spinach & Cheese Chimi Burro at Mi Patio Mexican Restaurant.
43: Dinner at Rustler's Rooste.
42: Gyro Omelet at Mel's Diner.
41: Zipps Wings at Zipps Sports Grill.
40: Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa.
39: Asian Nachos at Moto.
38: Olive Oil Tasting at Queen Creek Olive Oil Mill.
37: Baby Back Ribs at Don & Charlie's.
36: Limoncello at Cibo.
35: Chili Salt Chicken Wings at Asian Café Express.
34: Smoked Prime Rib at Texaz.
33: Steak Salad at Feeney's.
32: Tasting Menu at Kai Restaurant.
31: Toffee Banofi Sundae at Sweet Republic.
30: Big Jim at Welcome Diner.
29: Sonoran Hot Dog at El Caprichoso.
28: Sashimi at Nobuo at Teeter House.
27: Oysters at Casey Moore's Oyster House.
26: Spring rolls at Da Vang.
25: Bruschetta and wine at Postino.
24: Hot green chili fry bread at Fry Bread House.
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Lauren Cusimano is Phoenix New Times' food and drink editor. She is a journalist and food waste writer based in Tempe. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Contact: Lauren Cusimano