Graze Premium Burgers. Do it.
Edit: Update June 2019– this review originally appeared in 2015. Four years later and Graze Premium Burgers has proven they are still one of the best places in town and; have opened a couple more locations. We eat there often.
At the end of this article, I discussed a few other burger options and have to chuckle that I predicted that McDonald’s might be going out of business. But let’s not focus on bad burgers, read on about one of the best burgers and fries anywhere.
In this article, we discuss burgers in general, burgers in Tucson, and what we think is one of the best burgers anywhere.
Graze Premium Burgers.
When I walk into a new place, and especially a new burger place, a few questions come to mind. What kind of burger will I find, how will it stand up to all the other burgers in town, and will they feature the burger, or are they one of the “craft” places that rely more heavily on what’s on top? Most importantly, how will it taste coming straight off the grill?
Boasting natural beef burgers from Niman Ranch, our visit to this outstanding hamburger eatery begs the question, how is it possible there is not a line out the damn door at 11 a.m. each and every day? Graze offers up one of the best burgers I’ve enjoyed in recent memory.
It also answers another question. Yes, it is possible to blend the proper amount of natural, high-quality fat into high-quality beef and come out with an excellent burger. High quality does not have to mean “lean” or “lacking in soul.” I also like that no one asks if you want that medium or rare, because there is only one internal temperature setting at Graze: delicious. Would you like your burger prepared to the inner flavor of “delicious”? Yes, please.
And because Graze’s burgers are so good, they need perfect FRIES! Theirs are cooked to perfection.
Your first bite begins with a burst of flavor, and as you cram that last bite into your mouth, you are left with a lingering feeling of having just had one of the better burgers you are ever going to get, anywhere.
We went for the quarter pounder, which is staged on a perfect bun and wrapped up in an ideal balance of accouterments. I added cheddar and some bacon, with mustard, lettuce, and tomato, and it was heavenly.
We also love that they are offering a ton of extras for your burger without charging for each one. But you could go totally naked, and this burger would still be sexy as hell (please don’t show up naked).
Speaking of extras, Graze has come up with a bunch of neat little sides FOR YOUR FRIES, because your burger does not need them, like curry ketchup, which you can access on your own through 8 little filling pumps. It makes their perfect, hand-cut fries even perfecter.
Home Grown in Tucson
In the age of mass-produced burgers, where the advertising pitches are “5 guys” who don’t know; or the fact that you can run “in and out,” we can instead opt to eat at a local place that outshines them all.
We ask, can you just feed me a great burger?
And Graze answers with a resounding YES.
Graze burgers feature the burger itself (with an organic option), by cooking it on a flat-top griddle with a perfect beef-to-fat ratio, resulting in a juicy explosion of burger flavor that can stand up to virtually anything you put on it.
Did you get that? It can stand on its own! To the rest of the burger world in Tucson: if you need to cook your burger medium rare to make it “moist” and dump raspberry-chutney glazed onions on it in a pitiful effort to invoke “flavor,” what you have there comes up short of a “burger.” More like meatloaf on bread.
So let’s talk burgers in general. There are two kinds of perfect burgers. The first, a sort of diner-esque flattened-on-the-griddle style, should show up with a sense of the griddle and reap the tasty benefits of actually frying in its own juices.
The second kind is a “fat burger,” and a different type of cooking finesse is required to end up with a tasty, juicy burger on your plate.
In both instances, success depends on the burger’s lean-to-fat ratio. The griddled burger relies on the cook to know how to flatten it as it cooks, and then the burger’s mix of fat to lean has to be high enough that it can withstand the quick but intense cook time. Done correctly, as it is by Graze, the result can be sublime. In this version, the flavors from the griddle combine with everything else to scream HAMBURGER! You just ate a hamburger, and you want another!!!!
The big burger, on the other hand, requires patience, and the cook must resist any and all temptation to give it a little squeeze.
The big burger takes extra time and is easy to screw up. Take it off too soon, and you end up with a raw middle. Pull it a moment too late, and you’ll end up with a sort of dry meatball. In the fat burger model, you can often get away with a slightly leaner burger mix, but go too lean, and you’ll get what is all too often an expensive but totally blah burger.
All the other stuff – bun, toppings, condiments, and whatever else a hamburger might bring to the table – are all second to, how is the burger cooked, and what’s in the burger itself.
For your further burgery reference
Five Guys: We were once intrigued, but after a couple of visits, it turned into a big fat “Meh,” and the fries were never good.
In and Out Burger: We can understand why Tucsonans are in love with the place. But again, MEH. Would you like 2/3 of an onion on your burger? No. Thank you.
McDonald’s: (I can’t resist including them, and actually think we may see this franchise go out of business.) Here’s the problem. Looking at all of the alternative choices, including a microwaved burger out of the frozen section of a Circle K, why in the world would you order a hamburger from them?
Lindy’s: We get it. But I can no longer metabolize the tater tots and jalapenos it takes to make the burger interesting for me. It’s a great local burger, and if you want to be amazed, find a seat that lets you watch the cooks at Lindy’s churn out hundreds of burgers per hour on a busy Friday night. It’s a must-try for all Tucsonans.
The Parish: This is our go-to place for a Fat Burger, as well as, perhaps, a Tito’s vodka and ginger (which makes everything better). Succulent and perfectly balanced… and because you need to let go of your diet and treat yourself at least once a month, we HIGHLY recommend The Parish Burger. They also knock the fries out of the park.
Visions of burgers dancing in your head? Graze is on Speedway near Choice Greens and the intersection with Country Club. Everything they want you to know is here at their website. See ya there.