Who doesn't love a big, thick, meaty burger? Here in the Valley we have almost as many burger joints as taco stands, but these three meat patties are worth making a special stop for.
The French Onion Burger at St. Francis
Sitting in the shadow of its namesake, the Catholic St. Francis Xavier church on Central Avenue and Camelback Road, St. Francis (the restaurant) manages to be equal parts art museum, old church, and kitchen-table-away-from-home. Suspension cables crisscross exposed brick walls, where paintings hang and large mirrors give the impression of a much grander space. The center of the restaurant, literally and figuratively, is a wood-fired oven that roasts chicken, pork chops, and bread you’ll be thinking about for days after a visit. Their French onion burger is something to write home about: Smoked bacon, crispy onions, Gruyère cheese, and handful of arugula adorn this juicy sandwich, and it comes with your choice of fries or a salad.
The Handlebar Burger at Handlebar Diner
The Handlebar Burger at the new Handlebar Diner in Mesa's Eastmark neighborhood.
The diner might technically be decades old, but it looks shiny and new at its new Eastmark digs. There isn't much space to sit inside, but if you do manage to score a diner seat, you'll have a view of a full bar behind the counter. Most of the seating is outdoors, though, where you'll find a pleasant courtyard populated by a handful of shaded picnic tables. There is also a long bar with metal stools offering views of the Eastmark Great Park. There is currently no restroom on-site, but you can use the nearby restrooms at the Eastmark Visitor and Community Center. From the burger menu, the Handlebar Burger offers up a half-pound of Angus beef smothered in lots of melted white American cheese and ringlets of grilled onions. As far as burgers go, this one hits all the right pleasure points, the beefy patty melding beautifully with the sweet-savory onions, and everything nicely buoyed by the diner's tangy comeback sauce. It comes with your choice of house-made chips, fries, or fruit.
The Royale at Grande Stand, Scottsdale
The Stand opened its second location in May in a strip mall near Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard, just next to the Harkins Shea 14 movie theater. The new space — which once famously housed Amy's Baking Company — retains a casual vibe, with a bar lining the front wall, and a scattering of tables filling the bright space. In addition to table service, the new location also has a full bar with a strong selection of Arizona craft brews on draft. The burger side of the menu has remained largely unchanged from the original location on Indian School, with just two options: The Standard, featuring house-ground beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, dill pickle, and Stand sauce for $7, or $7.50 with cheese, and The Royale, a double patty stacked with cheese, guacamole, jalapenos, bacon, and caramelized onions for $11.85. French fries run you an extra $3.45 and Stand sauce to go with them is $.50.