Back in 2021, there was a brief moment of controversy over unsubstantiated claims that the federal government wanted to dramatically restrict Americans’ consumption of red meat. While the alarm turned out to be false, there are environmental, nutritional, and ethical debates surrounding the role of beef in our diet and the way in which it is produced. Despite those considerations, hamburgers are not likely to vanish imminently. Whether a frequent indulgence or an occasional treat, burgers of all types can be found at Tru Burgers in Midtown Phoenix.

California burger with skinny fries

Tru’s location on Central Avenue, roughly halfway between the light rail stations at Thomas and Encanto, is one of two. The other is far to the north in Anthem. For its Midtown location, Tru shares a new building with a pizza franchise and occupies the south end of the structure by Woodward Drive. Acknowledging that Midtown, once seen as mainly a linear business district,  has become more of a place to live with adjacent historic districts and new apartment buildings, Tru is a casual but full service restaurant with the feeling of a neighborhood hangout.

Tru bistro burger and skinny fries

There is a street-side entrance on Central and another in the parking lot behind. Both lead to a host station that is often unattended, but staff are quick to invite visitors to sit where they like, whether in one of the two interior dining areas, at the small indoor/outdoor bar, on the L-shaped patio that wraps around the building to face towards Woodward. Next to the patio is where the most proximate bike rack can be found, but there’s another larger one at the north end of the building near the pizza place. A desert-themed mural dominates one of the dining room walls. 

salmon burger with sweet potato fries

As its name suggests, Tru is foremost about burgers, but it does offer an assortment of appetizers that can act as a snack white those are cooked. Items like chips and salsa, guacamole, and chicken wings are all capably executed, even if nearly ubiquitous. Some more distinctive starters include the Buffalo chips, slices of fried potato with tangy, spicy sauce and bleu cheese on top, and the green bean fries, breaded and crisp and served with a wasabi ranch that provides a bit of a kick. Although offered up front, these can be a side dish as well.

Italian burger with zucchini fries

The burgers are generous half-pound patties on relatively soft buns that strain to contain them. A steak knife stuck in the top of each one suggests that these are meant to be consumed with some use of utensils and their large size makes them shareable when combined with appetizers or sides. The restaurant offers 15 signature burgers, as well as a build-your-own option. Many featured items here incorporate the restaurant’s name. The Tru bistro burger is one example. It  incorporates copious amounts of bacon, greens, and goat cheese as its abundant toppings.

Tokyo burger with green bean fries

Themed burgers also include the Italian burger with mozzarella, basil, tomato, and a balsamic reduction, and the California burger topped by mushrooms, avocado, greens, and Swiss cheese. All of these burgers can be modified with the substitution of a plant-based patty or a turkey burger; however, Tru’s best beef alternatives often involve fish. The Tru salmon burger actually tastes like salmon, but not in an overpowering fishy way. Likewise, the Tokyo burger is made with ahi tuna that works within a bun without overshadowing the other ingredients.

patty melt with onion rings

Of course, the classic burger alternative is a chicken sandwich. Although poultry can be chosen with any of the burgers, The Tru chicken sandwich features a marinated breast on wheat, marble rye, or sourdough with bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and Swiss. A spicy alternative is a Buffalo chicken sandwich with a crisp breaded breast combined with pepperjack cheese and tangy hot sauce. Rye bread is useful for two classics on the menu: a patty melt with caramelized onions and chipotle mayo and a pastrami sandwich with sauerkraut, mustard, and Swiss.

Tru chicken sandwich with Tru fries

Sides are not included with any of the sandwiches or burgers. Nevertheless, there are numerous choices of accompaniments, all sized generously to the point that sharing is strongly recommended. The Tru fries are a mix of regular and sweet potato versions. The skinny fries are standard thin-cut French fries. Garlic parmesan fries add a layer of flavor, and onion rings and zucchini fries incorporate other vegetables that can endure being deep fried. The one non-fried alternative is a side salad; however, several larger salads are available as entrees.

Mediterranean salad

The Mediterranean salad is a large bowl full of a classic Greek salad topped with grilled chicken. Caesar, cobb, and caprese are among other familiar options. In terms of plated entrees, Tru offers a choice of chicken, salmon, or steak with fries and roasted vegetables. All burgers and entrees can be accessorized with optional condiments like aioli, ranch, BBQ sauce. or an fiery habanero sauce. For dessert, Tru also sticks with its comfort food theme, offering choices such as a cookie skillet, flourless chocolate cake, or brownie served with vanilla ice cream.

brownie sundae

The small bar serves cocktails and a limited selection of wine. There are a dozen tap handles, many of them devoted to local brews like Tower Station Mother Road IPA or Santan Epicenter Amber Ale, listed on a chalkboard, along with happy hour specials on drinks like margaritas and a Friday fish fry special. While recent rumors of regulations restricting beef were not founded in fact, it is tru(e) that when burgers are desired, regardless of political considerations or ideological posturing, they can be enjoyed in a comfortable Midtown environment at Tru.

2535 N. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ 85004