Estimates of the number of hamburgers consumed each year in the United States are as high as 50 billion. That number is either impressive or scary, depending on one’s view of beef consumption. Either way, the statistics show just how popular the century old sandwich of ground beef on a bun continues to be. With those circumstances in mind, it makes sense that one of the restaurants in the Desoto Central Market’s inaugural lineup is the DCM Burger Joint, a food stall with a name that describes its role as an informal purveyor of burgers of all types.
Across the street from the Roosevelt / Central light rail station, the DCM Burger Joint is the first window a visitor to the Desoto Central Market encounters after rounding the corner that divides the sunny dining room for the rear food court. It’s also the only source of food available at the bar up front. Sit at the counter for service from one of the bartenders, or order at the window in back, take a number, and wait for the food to be brought to the table. The food menu is the same in either case, and the burgers and sides are served in a casual style with disposable dishes.
DCM Burger Joint is all about burgers, but it’s not at all about ordinary ground chuck. The beef used is usually from Niman Ranch, especially in the restaurant’s namesake DeSoto burger. This signature sandwich tops the meat patty with cheddar, braised onions, bibb lettuce, and peppery bacon in a satisfying mix. The Patty Melt departs from tradition by using challah bread instead of the more commonly encountered slices of rye. The Little Nino is a basic mini-burger with ketchup, mustard, cheese, and pickles suitable for children or adults with smaller appetites.
The Phoenician, on the other hand, uses Arizona raised beef in combination with grilled mushrooms, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and a rich topping of bone marrow. The French influence continues with a brioche bun. Other burgers abandon beef entirely in favor of other meats, or no meat at all. The Bison relies on the lean meat of that mammal, and the Dirty Turkey is a poultry burger. These two are served on pretzel buns, and, in both cases, the lower fat content of the meat is made up for with an added topping of a fried egg.
The item listed as a Garden Burger isn’t the same thing as the mass market product with a similar name. Instead of a meatless patty, the sandwich layers a portabello mushroom with black beans, goat cheese, and arugula. The other vegetarian choice is to substitute black beans for the meat in any of the burgers offered. The menu describes this option as a “black bean veggie patty,” but in actuality it’s more of a loose assemblage of seasoned black beans. The legumes are a tasty filling, but the result is closer to a sloppy Joe than a burger.
Beyond burgers, the restaurant serves two side dishes. The first is, unsurprisingly, French fries. DCM Burger Bar’s fries are crisp with plenty of skin left on the ends of the potato slivers. The second is cheese curds. DCM’s take on the “squeaky cheese” treat from Midwest is a local one powered by the goats of Crow’s Dairy in Buckeye. The accompanying spicy ketchup provides a nice contrast with the mild taste of fried dairy nuggets. If neither fries nor curds appeal as sides, a small salad or some soup from one of the other DeSoto tenants may be a good match.
Although DCM Burger Bar is at its busiest during lunch and dinner, the restaurant plays a role in the DeSoto Central Market’s breakfast service. The morning menu has undergone changes since the market’s opening and is now a shared operation between the Burger Bar and the nearby coffee and tea vendor. A breakfast burrito full of potatoes and eggs is an effective Southwestern dish. The French toast is a small portion but nicely adorned with blueberry jam. Unfortunately, a bowl of steel cut oats with apple compote came out of the kitchen undercooked when sampled.
The beverage selection at DCM Burger Bar is limited to a small case of sodas and juices next to the window where orders are taken, but the entire bar at the front of the market is available, and customers sitting at the bar can order a burger and a drink at the same time. The bar offers a selection of craft beers on tap, wines by the glass, and several original cocktails. The best values are found during happy hour when a cocktail of the day is available for $5. Some of the recent drink specials have included a cucumber pineapple mojito and a blackberry margarita.
The order-at-the-counter service model used at DCM Burger Bar works well for burgers and fries. Nevertheless, the expansive dining space available, covering two floors as well as a patio facing Roosevelt Street, can be a source of frustration when diners wish to customize their food. Want some hot sauce or extra ketchup? If so, a return trip back to the Burger Bar window is necessary. This is not a flaw of the DCM Burger Bar per se, but instead reflects a need for the DeSoto Central Market to add a few strategically placed condiment bars for self-service use by customers.
The DCM Burger Bar’s menu has changed several times since the market’s opening in April. Some of that reflects seasonal variations, and some reflects ongoing efforts to refine the DeSoto Central Market’s overall concept, which is still a work in progress as the building progresses toward full occupancy. No matter how the larger market evolves, it’s likely burgers, fries, and cheese curds will stay a part of its core offerings and that DeSoto Burger Market will continue to make its contribution to the hamburger’s enduring popularity.
915 N. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ 85004
Roosevelt / Central Station