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Dining out: Ballard's Iceberg

Published: Friday, April 24 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

I just love spring. Everything's green and growing, the flowering plum in my yard is showering us with a fragrant pink confetti of blossoms, and I start looking forward to summery food.

Nothing says warm-weather meal to me more than burgers, fries and shakes in a classic setting. We might go to Woody's drive-in on 900 East in Murray, or mosey on over to Hires Big H, or visit the red-and-white-striped Iceberg restaurant on 3900 South.

Or we might go to Ballard's Iceberg in Draper, a different animal than its cousin to the north.

I like 'em both. You can get a good burger at both. But the Iceberg at 3900 South and 900 East has expanded over the decades to about a dozen locations, with a more polished "corporate" look and feel to the new stores.

Ballard's Iceberg, on the other hand, doesn't look or taste much different than when it opened in 1960 in a shack on 12300 South. It's still tiny. Seating and parking are limited. The decor is, at best, minimal and outdated. And on warm spring and summer evenings, when the mountains shade to purple and the street lights switch on, customers line up out the door for some of the best burgers, fries and shakes in the valley.

We visited Ballard's Iceberg on a recent Monday night when we were all craving summery food. There are no kids' meals as such, but the menu is a wealth of child (and grown-up) delights: hot dogs, corn dogs, burgers. And the shakes, of course — more on them later.

Our oldest daughter had a cheeseburger, a juicy patty on a soft bun welded together with plenty of cheese, while her 8-year-old sibling had the savory and crisp grilled ham and cheese.

Our 3-year-old son explored the delights of a corn dog, while our 6-year-old daughter attacked her foot-long hot dog, deliciously split and grilled and dressed with her choice of toppings. I had my doubts about her finishing it, but she hoovered it up in about five minutes, licking her fingers after the last bite.

Then the kids turned their attention to the fries, the thick-cut, tender, salty kind that I just can't resist. We also had an order of onion rings, juicy slices battered and fried deep golden-brown.

My husband and I could barely salvage a few fries and rings to eat with our burgers. He had the "big burger" with cheese and bacon, and I had the same without the bacon.

Sure, there's other stuff on the menu: pastrami burgers, steak sandwiches, tacos, chicken, even salad. I didn't try any of it, and I'm not sorry. These are delectable burgers: juicy, meaty, lovingly topped with fresh ingredients, on a big soft bun that holds everything together. And they're wrapped in folded waxed paper. I love eating a burger that way.

We finished up with a sweet, oversized mint chocolate chip shake and a hot fudge malt with almonds, both hand-spun from fresh ingredients, as was obvious from their flavor and smooth, creamy finish — one of my favorite warm-weather tastes.

Ballard's Iceberg

Rating: ★★★

Where: 673 E. 12300 South, Draper

Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 801-571-2453

Wheelchair access: Some tight spaces, but accessible

Also: Breakfast served Monday-Saturday until 11 a.m.

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

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