The Unvegan

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Tonto and the Lone Burger

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What’s that you say, Kemo Sabe?

One benefit of getting married is the tastings. Not so much tasting food that the guests will eat, but traveling back and forth between Arizona and LA to plan things, and knowing there will be food in need of eating. On my most recent foray into the Grand Canyon state, we went out to dinner at a place called Tonto Bar & Grill in Cave Creek. Tonto is quite the popular place, with an outdoor patio looking out onto a golf course and an old Western eclectic interior. The menu ranges from some fancy salads to super fancy steaks, but somewhere in the middle there is burgers. And having gone at least a couple days without crushing a burger, I felt it was time.

The Tonto Burger is essentially a build-your-own burger, starting with either a corn-fed or grass-fed patty. I’m not sure what sort of crazy person would choose corn-fed over grass-fed, especially with them costing the same, but I suppose it’s possible. So over course I went with the corn…er…grass patty, then topped it with sharp cheddar, avocado and bacon. I noticed that lettuce, tomato, pickle planks (yargh) and crispy fried onions were included for free in every burger, yet for some reason in my head, I decided that I had to mention them in order for them to be included. Stupid, stupid unvegan. It was a mistake I hope to never make again, because when my burger I arrived I found a lot more than I bargained for.

Yes, all those dastardly vegetables were found in between my buns and my face immediately turned from smile (“We’re eating at a place named for the Lone Ranger?!”) to frown (“I’ve made a huge mistake…”). But the gods weren’t entirely angry at me, because I found that the pickle planks (yargh) were actually quite dry and their juices didn’t destroy my burger from the inside. Yet, where I took solace in the light pickling, I was saddened to find that they used shredded lettuce in true Southwestern fashion. It was quite an effort to get this burger ready for eating, but when I did I found it a truly enjoyable burger. The patty had been cooked to a perfect medium rare and simply could not be contained by the bun. The sharp cheddar was as expected, as was the avocado. The bacon, though, was not the usual applewood smoked or regular smoked bacon, but a pepper bacon. This was an interesting twist that added a little something to experience. But if I may, I’d like to get back to the bun, which was not only too small for the burger, but also not thick enough to contain this meaty monster. Midway through, the meal became a battle to keep my food together. It was a worthy battle, though, and in the end I won.

Was it a groundbreaking burger? Not exactly, but it was still pretty tasty. If you find yourself in Cave Creek in need of a burger, you won’t go wrong with Tonto. But you may want to be smarter than me and order yours without and of those preposterous vegetabled.