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Best BBQ Burger
Open Range Grill & Tavern – Campfire BBQ Bacon Burger
If you’re hankering for hamburger served with a side dish of sirloin red rock views, go Uptown young man. The Campfire BBQ Bacon Burger at Open Range Grill & Tavern is ground-round comfort food that angel or outlaw can go plumb loco fer. The 8-ounce flame-grilled Angus beef patty is topped by a kit and kaboodle of ranch-cut bacon slices and cheddar cheese, gussied up with snappy barbeque sauce and riding a sesame seed bun. It has the homespun good taste to turn any picky-eatin’ city slicker into a chopped-beefsteak Buckaroo. What’s more, this here fistful of sandwich sidekicks with your choice of hand-cut french fries, potato salad or coleslaw. So if you’re aiming for some chuckwagon-worthy grub, give the Campfire BBQ Bacon Burger a shot. Wahoo! That’s nice shootin’, Tex! $12.95 – JM
Open Range Grill & Tavern, 320 N. SR 89A at Sinagua Plaza at Sedona Center (928-282-0002).
Best Burger From Another Planet
Red Planet Diner – The Roswell Burger
he Roswell Burger from the Red Planet Diner will definitely send a delicate palate into orbit. This scrumptious burger is heavy on flavor and full of surprises. The bun is fresh and the burger hearty, but it’s the undercover surprises that make this burger live up to its name, conjuring up some spicy intrigue. We’ve sampled this one before, so we asked for mayonnaise on the side. It’s a mild condiment that complements the burger. Mustard and ketchup are just too loud for this little alien. After the first bite, any local will quickly recognize the sweetness of the roasted poblano pepper. But the real bite doesn’t come from the innocent poblano, or even the optional red onion. Long before you see them, your whole mouth begins to smoke from what we discovered to be more than a few pickled jalapeño peppers hiding under the cheese. Depending on your taste, this burger cries for a big milkshake or one of the many cold beers available from the bar. $9.99 – SM
Red Planet Diner, 1655 SR 89A in West Sedona (928-282-6070).
Best Burger With A View
Oak Creek Brewery & Grill – Tlaquepaque Burger
Color us cynical, but if anybody claims a more intoxicating pleasure exists than washing down a hamburger with a frosty-cold mug of brew, we’d be hard-pressed to swallow it – smug gratification cannot be improved upon. Lucky for us, Oak Creek Brewery & Grill’s charbroiled half-pound certified-Angus Tlaquepaque Burger sticks to a time-honored bar-food tradition and doesn’t try to bend the rules. It comes with all the fixin’s worshipped by chop-meat junkies: lettuce, tomato, red onion, sharp cheddar cheese and grilled mushrooms. Onions, bacon, avocado and jalapeños can be added to the mix for just $1.25 per topping. Ours was paired with a batch of thick, battered french fries – crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside – that Lafayette would have fought for. Special mention must be made of the big juicy pickles, perhaps the crunchiest dillys in town, that also adorned our plate. For a foamy topper, reward yourself for your good deeds (even if you haven’t done any lately) with the Forty-Niner Gold Lager, our personal nominee for the best of the brewpub’s own beers. Yes, life can be good, at least some of the time. $13.95 – JM
Oak Creek Brewery & Grill, 336 SR 179 at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village (928-282-3300).
Red’s Restaurant – The Beef Sliders Trio
Good things come in threes, like the Lord of the Rings epics, the Back to the Future comedies and the Star Wars prequels. OK, so maybe not every trilogy is memorable, but we’ll own up to a sweet spot for Sedona’s hottest threesome, the Beef Sliders Trio served at Red’s Restaurant at Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa. Sit your buns at a table (or at the chic and often lively bar) and dig into a platter of artfully arranged mini-burgers topped with blue cheese, Red Dragon cheese, and sautéed mushrooms and onions. Sure, the slider trio may be bite-size and gulpable, but their aura looms large; you’ll never confuse Reds’ gourmet babies with their distant cousin, the White Castle steamed Slyder – although we’ll own up to a lifelong taste for it, too. One more beef: Red’s also offers a Fish Sliders Trio for all you non-purists out there. $7 – JM
Red’s Restaurant, 2250 W. SR 89A at Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa (928-340-5321).