ARLINGTON – What happens when the feel of a 50’s ice cream parlor and the cheesiness of a 70’s disco meet some seriously good food? You get Retro Burger.
Located on Mass. Ave. in Arlington, Retro Burger is a throwback restaurant where owner Bill Maund likes to kick it old school. So he lined the walls with vintage signs, threw a disco ball on the ceiling and filled his jukebox up with his favorite tunes.
“It’s retro – but retro is now where the 50s meet the 70s,” Maund said. “I grew up in that era. I consider it the greatest era ever. I think the 70s were filled with great music, great cars, great art, and I wanted to convey that and bring it to the masses.”
“In the corner we have an original 52 Seaburg Jukebox. It’s known as a Happy Days model. It’s the one that Fonzie used to hit with his hand, and we filled it with tunes from the 50s, 60s and the 70s”.
“It’s a little Kiss, a little Elvis; we have tunes from every era on our jukebox.”
While the decor reflects Bill’s generation, dishes like the Godzilla Burger pay homage to his hometown.
“I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and we have a couple burger places out there where they do put lunchmeat on the burgers.”
This monster of burger is hand formed and grilled on a flat top so it’s extra juicy.
“As soon as you put it on the grill, you get a nice immediate sizzle,” said Maund. “You retain all the juice. The juices eventually absorbs back into the burger. You’re not losing any of the juices that you would on an open fire flame.”
From the grill, the Godzilla Burger is topped with fried Genoa salami, bologna, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and onions.
“You’re tasting the lunchmeat, because we fry the lunchmeat and it brings out the flavor in the lunchmeat and you’re combining that with the flavor of the onion and the tomato and the lettuce and the beef and it makes a great, great flavor.”
The Clevelander is another invention from Bill’s old stomping grounds. The delicious 10-inch hot dog is loaded up with beefy chili, sautéed onions and a spiced brown Cleveland stadium mustard that makes Ohio transplants happy.
Hot heads will be more than thrilled to try a bowl of Retro Burger’s homemade chili.
“We’re heavy on the beef, heavy on the onion. We throw some jalapeños in there. It’s a little on the spicy side, but chili is supposed to be.”
This beefy bowl of goodness can be enjoyed on its own, loaded onto a hot dog, or poured over some French fries with plenty of cheese. It might be messy, but it’s definitely delicious.
“When we present it we say, ‘fingers or forks?’ and some people start with the fingers and in the end you’re digging in there with a fork.”
No forks necessary when digging into an order of Retro Burgers onion rings. Served piping hot and super crispy, the thick cut rings are sliced, battered and fried in house.
“We make our own onion rings. We do a medium cut. It’s about 3/4 of an inch thick. We hand dip them, and hand bread them and hand fry them and bring them to your table hot. It is labor intensive but it makes a fantastic onion ring.”
Getting back to the burgers, there’s also ‘The Rifleman’ topped with provolone and sautéed mushrooms and onions. While this place is a far cry from Burger King, you can most definitely “have it your way” if you order one of the so-called Mojo Burgers.
“Our Mojo Burger is – don’t even look at the menu. Just come in, tell us what you want, we’ll make it with the ingredients that we have and the condiments that we supply. You can put whatever you like on it, your choice of cheese and any or all the toppings that we offer.”
“Some people come in and they’ll order 6 or 7 of their favorite toppings; some people will come in and say, ‘give me everything.’ It gets a little bit big. It gets a little bit sloppy, but sometimes that’s a good thing.”
Since the sign on the door says ‘Ice Cream’, you’ll find plenty of shakes, sundaes and splits to have for dessert.
While the price for a burger isn’t quite what it was in the 50s, it actually comes pretty close. So Retro Burger can certainly be considered PHAN-tastic MEAL DEAL.
You can find Retro Burger at 795 Mass. Ave. in Arlington, and online at retroburger.net.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.
MORE FROM PHANTOM GOURMET