Saturday, July 30, 2011

Don't Judge a Burger by its Size

Scottsdale often times get a bad rap due to its infamous reputation for producing snobby and plastic people. While this isn’t my cup of tea, Scottsdale has a lot to offer in terms of unique and trendsetting restaurants. I like that there are local restaurants and few franchised chains. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am not a fan of cookie cutter eateries and love to explore the vast options of places to eat.

Earlier this week RC, her niece S&M (it’s definitely not what you think) and I ventured to the Snobsdale Fashion Square to do a little shopping. On the way there we were debating on where to eat for dinner. As we drove down Scottsdale Road, there were more than enough options to choose from. The million dollar question was - What were we hungry for? We drove past Stax Burger Bistro and instantly I consulted my restaurant bible - Yelp. While the place only received three and a half stars, the majority of the reviews were four and five stars. The biggest complaint was that the portions were slider sized and they were expecting regular sized hamburgers. We decided that this place was a go. Shopping we went and by the time 8 O’clock rolled around, we were famished. 

We walked in and found that we could seat ourselves where ever we wanted. We had beaten the dinner crowd which was a good thing since Stax can probably fit about 50 people comfortably inside. I loved the ambiance as it produced a laid back atmosphere with funky furniture and lighting. S&M thought I was a nut for taking pictures of pretty much everything. RC just rolled her eyes and stated that I always take pictures of my food and the places we eat at. I am a food blogger after all! Who wants to just read about places that I’ve eaten and not see the pictures as well? Don’t forget about the food porn!

I digress...our waiter, Kyle (who was an awesome server by the way) immediately came over to the table and gave us the low down on the menu. The burgers are prepared like sliders with 3 oz. patties with a variety of different burger combinations and meats to choose from. If you are into exotic meats, then Stax is for you. They have anything from ostrich, deer, elk and duck confit burgers. He went over the specials and then let us fend for ourselves on our dinner decisions. So many choices and they all sounded delicious! I decided to ask Kyle what his recommendations were and go from there. He advised that his favorite was the buffalo burger which had melted Muenster cheese, an onion ring and peach BBQ sauce. I was sold and ordered mine medium rare ‘cause I like my burgers still moo’ing. RC got the turkey burger and S&M got the chicken burger. We also ordered the totz, rings, and sweet pots.

We got the fried goodness first and of course I threatened my friends if they didn’t let me take pictures first. So they obliged and I started snapping away. I have a thing for sweet potato fries and let me tell you that Stax has amazing ones, especially when I dipped them into the spicy aioli. It was a flavor bomb in my mouth - the fire from the aioli dancing with the sweetness and savory from the potato was unmatched. It was absolutely genius and I was bound and determine to get the recipe one way or another. S&M fell in love with the jalapeno aioli which I shied away from at the beginning because I was afraid that it had either sour cream or ranch. Either of those ingredients would make for a disastrous night. But later found out that the base was mayo and was glad I asked otherwise I would’ve missed out on a flavorful aoili. I wasn’t too thrilled with the chipotle and the honey mustard and red pepper were good but not as delicious as the spicy aioli. I later found out that the aioli was made with two simple yet powerful ingredients: sriracha and mayo. No wonder it was love at first bite - I’m obsessed with the Asian red chili sauce.

The tater tots were just as good as the sweet pots. Tater tots have always had a special place in my heart ever since elementary school cafeteria lunches. I love breakfast and the fact that you could have hash browns in a different shape for lunch was amazing. Tater tots became even cooler when Napoleon Dynamite came out in 2004.

We were half way through our fried goodness when the star of the night made its appearance. The burgers were teeny tiny and if I must say so myself - cute. I love the concept of sliders since you can pick and choose a variety of options without committing to just one burger. It’s definitely a great way to watch your portions as well. Despite the size of the burger, it was a thick burger and I had to practically smash it in order to get my mouth around it. Don’t judge a burger by its size because you definitely miss out as my buffalo burger had to be in the runnings for the best burger that I’ve ever had. It was so juicy it was running down my fingers and each bite was just as flavorful as the next. The buffalo had a slight hint of gaminess but if you didn’t know any better you’d think you were eating 100% good ol’ American beef. The burger was cooked to my standards - very pink in the middle with a charred crust on the outside encapsulating the juiciness. The peach BBQ was sweet, tangy, and the onion ring added the perfect amount of crunch.

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t order more than one slider because by the time I had finished mine, I was beyond full but with a happy tummy. We all agreed that Stax was an awesome place to take a chance on as it went above and beyond our expectations. The service was excellent - Kyle was very attentive and our glasses were never empty AND he gave us the not so secret ingredients to the jalapeno and spicy aiolis.

For Scottsdale, this place is reasonably priced. Between the three of us, our tab was about $10 each. The burgers each range from $4 - $7; appetizers $3 - $7; and drinks (which I didn’t get this time) range anywhere from $3 - $7 with a wide variety for every palate. They have a variety of red/white wines, sangria, hand crafted local beers, exclusive mixed drinks, and of course the familiar mixed drinks and beers. I will definitely be returning and getting my drink on!

Here’s the scoop for Stax Burger Bistro courtesy of Yelp:
4400 N Scottsdale Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 946-4222        

Hours: Mon-Fri 11 am - 10 pm; Sat-Sun 11 am - 12 am        
Takes Reservations: No   
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Parking: Private Lot
Attire: Casual
Good for Groups: Yes
Good for Kids: No
Price Range: $$    
Delivery: No
Take-out: Yes
Waiter Service: Yes
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Good For: Lunch, Dinner
Music: Juke Box
Best Nights: Fri, Thu, Sat    
Happy Hour: Yes
Alcohol: Full Bar
Smoking: No
Coat Check: No
Drive-Thru: No
Noise Level: Average
Good For Dancing: No
Has TV: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes