After half a year spent behind fences, Mesa’s Pioneer Park has finally reopened after nearly $8 million dollars of renovations. The new look combines modern play structures, a splash pad, and artistic light features while retaining the park’s mature trees and a refurbished Engine 2355, the vintage Southern Pacific steam locomotive that has been on display for over half a century. With all the improvements to the park, it’s easy to work up an appetite. With that in mind, it’s useful to have Haven Burgers located across the street from the park’s eastern edge.
Haven’s location in a small strip mall at Main and Hobson streets puts it close not only to historic Engine 2355, but also the much newer Mesa Drive / Main Street light rail station. That platform is just a block to the west on the other side of Pioneer Park. The Mesa Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints, another defining landmark in this portion of central Mesa, is across the street. Mesa has also been working lately to improve its bicycling infrastructure. For those needs, a bike rack is found next to Haven’s patio facing Hobson.
The restaurant operates with counter service. Order there and return to pick up orders as they’re called out. As the establishment’s name suggests, the menu is centered around hamburgers with some added characteristics and influences from California, Mexico, and even Greece. A pita bread appetizer advertised via a small poster near the counter, rather than the main overhead menu, combines those cuisines. The result is an attractive platter of fried triangles of flat bread surrounding refried beans topped with mixed cheeses and pico de gallo.
The restaurant’s namesake dish, the Haven Burger, tops a beef patty with a second layer of pastrami, an ingredient that reappears periodically on the restaurant’s menu. A pastrami burger seems like a testament to meaty excess at odds with stereotypes of health consciousness in California, but the creation apparently originates in the Golden State. Haven’s signature touch is the use of thousand island dressing, lettuce, onion, and tomato as standard toppings not only on the Haven Burger, but on all of its burgers — nearly a dozen of them.
The California burger includes bacon, avocado, and cheese. Other burgers, such as chili cheese or avocado, are self-explanatory. All the burgers, along with deli favorites like turkey or club sandwiches made with toasted bread, are available in combinations with a fountain drink and fries. The potatoes are serviceable, but it may be worthwhile to pay a dollar to upgrade to onion rings or fried zucchini, both prepared with a light cornmeal coating and served with a side of ranch dressing. Ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce are available at a condiment station.
A standard patty melt on rye bread is available, as is Haven’s Melt, distinguished by the substitution of sourdough and an added layer of pastrami — just like its cousin the Haven Burger. Gyros, as well as chicken and vegetable pita sandwiches, showcase a slight Greek influence. The chicken picado pita adds to the standard tzatziki and tomato toppings with the extra flavor of grilled onions and jalapenos. The “south of the border” section of the menu focuses on burritos and quesadillas, but with Haven’s own flourishes.
Specifically, that means the possibility of a pastrami quesadilla or a California burrito. At Haven Burger, the latter is not the gnarly surfer’s meal stuffed with carne asada and fries, but instead Haven’s indulgent mix of chili and pastrami inside a tortilla. Of course, more basic chicken and carne asada quesadillas or burritos are available. There’s a meatless bean-and-cheese one, along with a make-your-own option. A smaller breakfast menu features even more burritos. Children’s meals cover choices like chicken tenders, hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled cheese.
Haven Burgers serves no alcohol, which is not entirely surprising with the temple across the street and church elders among the restaurant’s clientele. It also does not offer dessert, but there’s a Mexican raspado shop for shaved ice treats two doors down. It’s perfectly possible to bring a picnic to Pioneer Park, and there are sometimes food truck events there, but for dependable sustenance every day except Sunday, Haven Burgers is the most logical destination after a ride on Engine 2355, the central Mesa light rail extension, or maybe both.
690 E. Main St., Mesa AZ 85203
Mesa Drive / Main Street Station