On the third day of the trek from Pittsburgh to San Diego we stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona. Flagstaff is an amazing city – young, active, friendly, all encompassed by beautiful scenery. My good friend (and ultramathoner) friend Jason told me the city is home to many elite runners who migrate there for the climate and elevation. My amateur ass didn’t clock over 5 miles, I had more important endeavors to focus on than running. Endeavors like asking my East coast friends if they were still awake, making plans of attack for my hotel’s continental breakfast, and most notably this little spot called Diablo Burger.
Diablo Burger is located in the circle on the square of Flagstaff’s hip little downtown. They’re a small (26 seat) cash only spot serving burgers and frites with a focus on local ingredients. The interior may seem cramped enough to cater to a frotteur convention, but the line moves fast and the communal dining tables add to the atmosphere. There are also picnic tables out front for the claustrophobic, but the full experience is had indoors. We waited about 5 minutes to place our order for two Marilyn’s (burgers with cheese) with extra sides of chimichurri and rising hy spicy honey mustard.
Beverages are limited to a small rotational craft brew and local wine selection, mexican coke, or Thomas Kempar brand soft drinks. I went with a diet root beer, and wish I hadn’t. It tasted like somebody replaced half of my soda with tonic water. Skip it. The waitress then stopped by our table to let me know they had run out of my requested Black Mesa Chevre. She was completely understanding of my response, “Dddaaammmnnnniiiitttt”, I had to settle for sharp cheddar. Bad start.
Things began to look up when our orders arrived about 10 minutes later. All burgers are 6oz of 95% lean, all natural beef locally sourced from diablo trust ranches. They’re served on house branded english muffins, with seasonal greens, tomato, and pickle spear on the side. As the meat is so lean, all burgers are cooked medium rare by default. The patty itself is a lightly seared medium grind that’s juicy enough to trick you into thinking you’re eating a much fattier burger. For those who are especially sensitive to a lack of triglycerides, rest assured the ample amount of cheese melted in a way that only full-fat could. The english muffin may be a surprising choice for burger- purists, but it’s sturdy enough for the smaller sized burger. My one gripe was with the seasonal greens, spinach and radicchio have no place on a burger, give me iceberg or forget it, luckily the burger was fine sans vegetation.
All burgers come with belgian style frites, fresh cut and doubled fried in peanut oil before being dusted with herbs de provence. Don’t skip these, they’re perfectly crisp and flavorful enough to be eaten on their own. Ketchup and hatch chile mayo are provided at each table. The former is always a classic, but the latter was a bit too acidic for my taste. As for the additional dipping sauces we ordered, I’d skip the cilantro and citrus chimichurri in favor of the rising hy spicy honey mustard. It’s more honey than spice, and great for frite dipping or muffin slathering.
So if you find yourself in Flagstaff, hankering for a great burger, better fries, and few accidental ass grabs, Diablo Burger is your spot. Skip the root beer, and order a real one. And if you get the elusive black mesa chevre, let me know how it is.