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BULLETDining Archive
Featured Dining LocationMama Burger is located at 112 E. Route 66 in Flagstaff. For more information, call 928-226-0616 or visit www.themamaburger.com.

© Paul Markow

Click image to view larger in separate window.
Mama Knows Best
Looking for the mother of all burgers? Make your way to Mama Burger in Flagstaff, where the patties are made with pure Angus chuck and pressed with a steak weight as they sizzle on the griddle. And then there are the fries.

By Roger Naylor

FLAGSTAFF Bernadette Chavez says she believes in doing only a few things, but doing them well. Fortunately for chowhounds, that short list includes burgers, fries and shakes. Chavez owns Mama Burger in Flagstaff, a joint that began as a tiny hole in the wall and has grown into a bigger hole in the wall. Hey, you don't eat ambience.

Mama Burger opened in February 2009 with four stools lining a window-front counter. Right from the start, crowds wedged through the door, after being drawn in by the wafting perfume of grill-kissed beef. The eatery was hailed as a Flagstaff version of the cultishly famous In-N-Out Burger, with its limited menu and adherence to fresh ingredients. Soon the space was expanded to include several tables to accommodate the ravenous throng of locals, students and food-savvy tourists that gathers each day to tuck into a deliciously simple meal.

If you love burgers, it's probably because of Mama Burger, or a place just like it. Before society's need for speed corrupted the process, this was how we got our burger fix: someone in an apron tossing a ball of fresh meat onto the flattop. All Mama Burgers are made with pure Angus chuck and pressed with a steak weight as they sizzle on the griddle. The process creates a rough-hewn patty with a delicate crispness haunting the edges and juices seared inside.

Swabbed with a tangy sauce made in-house and stacked with lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles so crisp you'd swear there's a garden out back, the burger nestles on a cushiony bun, a retro masterpiece of comfort food. This is the essence of a grand burger, a joy bomb of tender beef, enhanced by the varying textures and flavors of the add-ons. Cheese it if you want, there's no extra charge. You can also double up the patties or throw on some bacon, jalapeños and even a heap of fries — yes, fries directly on the burger. Genius! By this time you'll have created a sandwich so towering you'll need Sherpas to hoist the final pickle.

A perfect burger requires a perfect sidekick, and the fries at Mama Burger — slivers of hot, salted bliss — more than qualify. They start the morning as potatoes, are blanched twice, then hand-cut and cooked in rice oil, leaving them lively and brash — and sinfully addictive. The milkshakes are whipped by hand using premium soft-serve ice cream. Besides the usual suspects, the frosty roster includes taste sensations like root beer and the devastating orange creamsicle.

A burger, fries and a shake made right in front of you. There may be only a few things that Bernadette Chavez has mastered, but they're a few of our favorite things. If all mamas tried that, nobody would ever leave home.

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