Dining out: Tonyburgers does burgers up right

Published: Thursday, Nov. 25 2010 3:02 p.m. MST

My uncle, Darrell Johnson, knows a thing or two about beef.

With his siblings, including my dad, he grew up helping my grandpa on the Tooele County cattle ranch Uncle Darrell now owns and runs with his own kids.

I remember family events revolved around branding and other important stops in the annual cycle that makes up ranching life. And I remember eating ground beef made from our family's cattle, the best I've ever had.

That is, the best I've had until I tasted the "tri-beef" blend that makes up the burgers at Tonyburgers, a local chain of two restaurants that, to me, takes its place among the premier burger restaurants in Utah.

"Tri-beef" means that Tonyburgers grinds its own hamburger meat every day, making it from a combination of three cuts of beef — they won't tell you which — meant to maximize texture and flavor.

Boy, do they succeed. Whatever they're doing, it's working big time. And when you take that hamburger blend and sear it between a screaming-hot griddle and a flatiron, you get a burger that's crisp and rich outside, juicy and chewy inside and as, well, beefy, as any burger I've ever had.

My husband and I had date night at Tonyburgers last weekend, and we were immediately drawn in by two things in the clean, intimately sized dining space: first, there's a name-that-movie quiz on one wall (our score: 80 percent); and second, there's free WiFi!

Third, of course, there are excellent burgers, burgers in which the meat takes center stage despite the high quality of the other fixings. My husband had a double-patty cheeseburger with bacon, rich and very hearty. I don't think I could have finished it, but he did just fine.

With it he had Tonyburgers' excellent twice-cooked, thin-cut fries, served nice and hot in a big, generous mound.

I had my burger Tony style, which is to say with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions (I had them grilled) and Tony sauce, a tasty and jumped-up version of fry sauce.

It really, truly was just about perfect. Perfectly cooked meat. Perfectly tender and sweet onions, and perfectly crisp lettuce — a perfect blend of flavors.

Instead of fries, I had one of Tonyburgers' salads, which seem to get the same care, quality and attention lavished on the burgers.

My salad was a blend of green apple chunks, gorgonzola cheese, candied walnuts and red pepper over fresh mixed greens, dressed with a light, gently seasoned "champagne vinaigrette."

The salad was excellent (for a little extra you can add chicken and make it more of a meal), and my only problem was that it wasn't available in a smaller, side dish-size portion. I took a lot home to eat later, and it held up well.

For dessert, we shared a chocolate shake hand-spun from hard-packed ice cream, with a groovy wide straw to make the slurping even better.

Burgers $3.75-$7.09, salads $5.99-$6.99, fries $2.49, kids' meals $3.99, shakes $3.99.

Tonyburgers

Rating: ★★★ 1/2 stars

Where: 613 E. 400 South (also in Centerville)

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; closed Sunday

Phone: 801-419-0531

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Wheelchair access: Easy

Web: www.tonyburgers.com

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News. e-mail: skratz@desnews.com