During the year in the early 1990s that my husband and I lived in Wales, we learned a weird thing about the local fish and chips shops: The best ones were run by Greeks.

No lie. If you ever visit Cardiff, Wales, you must make your way to Crwys Road and XL Fish Bar, the locals' favorite, and you'll see what I mean. But you don't have to go so far away to experience the salutary effect of Greeks on a local cuisine: Just head over to your nearest Astro Burger.

Perusing the menu at Astro Burger, just one of several local burger joints owned by families of Greek heritage (Crown Burger, Olympus Burger and Apollo Burger come quickly to mind), a new customer would be forgiven for a little skepticism. It's hard not to wonder if any restaurant can competently produce burgers, gyros, beef sandwiches AND chili verde burritos.

Well, this one can. The Astro, a big, beautifully seared beef patty topped with scads of moist, salty pastrami and the usual burger fixings, was the kind of decadent eating experience that makes me think, "Well, this might kill me, but it's a good way to go out."

The smaller burgers, which we ordered for our kids, were just as fresh and delicious, with soft, tasty buns. I ordered the barbecue sandwich for myself, but after one look at the pile of thick-cut roast beef stacked on a sesame-seeded hoagie roll and topped with barbecue sauce, I had three girls crowding around my chair, begging for bites.

Luckily, we also had a chili verde burrito, the biggest surprise of the meal for me. I'm a big fan of chili verde, and I was highly skeptical of Astro Burger's version. So imagine my incredulity when this oversize burrito turned out to be delicious: full of green chiles and big, tender chunks of pork with a deep, complex flavor that tasted as if the verde had been gently stewed for hours.

With our sandwiches (and burrito) we had thick and crispy fries and an order of lemon rice, which was both buttery and sour. And for dessert, we had perfectly whipped chocolate and caramel shakes.

The shakes, creamy and sweet, weren't the only thing that left a good taste in our mouths. We used the drive-through at Astro Burger on our recent weeknight visit (though there are typically clean and comfortable dining spaces at all of the restaurants, particularly the golden-walled, wrought-iron-accented environs of the Draper store), and the service was stellar.

First, the staff nimbly handled my request, at the window, for several additional items. Second, the manager who took our order remembered, upon passing it into the car, to include six shake spoons — I'd mentioned while ordering that the two 32-ounce shakes we ordered would be shared by our family of six. And, finally, the food was packaged well — burgers firmly wrapped in waxed paper with their toppings on display, then lined up in a bakery-style box for secure transport.

I'd call it competence plus class, and it's part of what makes Astro Burger a local standby.

Sandwiches and burgers $1.85-$6.15, combos $5.65-$7.10, sides $1.35-$4.45, salads $2.45-$5.75, shakes and cones $2.25-$3.95.

Rating: ***

Where: 686 S. State, Midvale; 253 E. 12300 South, Draper; 10452 S. Redwood Road, South Jordan

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Closed Sunday

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 561-2575 (Midvale), 571-7775 (Draper), 302-1099 (South Jordan)

Wheelchair access: Easy

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: [email protected]