Back Yard Burgers

About: Founded in 1987, Cleveland, MS 116 locations, 75 franchised, in 17 southeastern states

EXTERNAL WEBSITE REVIEW:

Back Yard Burgers: Real fast food, done just right

By DAVID CARLSON, Gainesville.com
Sun dining critic

If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that it's not often I get excited about a new chain restaurant, especially one that serves burgers and has a drive-up window.

In fact, I've never been excited about a place that serves burgers and has a drive-up window.

Now, that's all changed. I have to admit that I am excited about this one, burgers, window and all. Back Yard Burgers is not exactly a fast-food restaurant, but it is exactly what a fast-food restaurant ought to be.

This place serves up char-broiled hamburgers, the one-third pound variety, that are just about as good as I can cook in my own back yard, and I'm no slouch in the charcoal department.

We're talking juicy.
We're talking reasonably thick.
We're talking charred on the outside to give them that "back yard" flavor.

We're talking a decent quality bun with lettuce and tomato that are actually edible.

And, we're talking made-to-order burgers, yet delivered to your table within about five minutes of the time you tell them what you want and pay at the counter.

If there's anything not to like, it's the price.

You won't get a double cheeseburger at Back Yard for 99 cents. You won't get one for $1.99 or even $2.99.

The standard, single-patty burger goes for $3.19, and once you add some cheese, it costs $3.58. Turn it into a Black & Bleu bacon-bleu cheeseburger with waffle-cut fries and a soft drink, and it will set you back about $6. But once you bite into this burger, I don't think you will mind.

If burgers aren't for you, you might want to reconsider being a beef-eating carnivore because they are really, really good, but Back Yard can still accommodate you.

There are five kinds of grilled chicken sandwiches ($3.29 to $4.09) and even a Garden Veggie burger ($4.79).

Back Yard also offers a bevy of salads from a Garden Side Salad ($1.59) to a Grilled Chicken, Blackened Chicken, Chicken Club and Buffalo Chicken Salad, ($4.79 each). There also are a couple of Angus beef hot dogs ($1.59-$2.19).

When it comes to potatoes, Back Yard offers three kinds in more than three ways.

The waffle-cut fries actually taste like potatoes and are good enough that I've never gotten past them to try the Seasoned Fries, which appear to be batter-dipped french fries, ($1.09 and $1.39 for either).

Then, there are Miz Grazi's Chili Cheese Fries ($1.99).

Another thing that sets this place apart is that you will find a bottle of ketchup on your table, not those infernal foil envelopes, but sometimes the bottles are empty, or nearly so.

Back Yard has three kinds of baked potatoes, butter and sour cream ($1.49), shredded cheddar, bacon bits and Ranch dressing, and a shredded cheddar and salsa variety ($2.29 each).

The drawback, and every place has a drawback, is that the word about this place was traveling fast even before you read this article. The restaurant is in a rebuilt Schlotzsky's Deli location on SW 34th Street just south of Archer Road.

It's not large, and the parking lot was full before you read this. Tomorrow, it will be, shall we say, char broiled?

David Carlson has been writing about food, wine and restaurants for more than 15 years. He can be reached at dave@ carlsonfamily.net. Dining is done anonymously and without advance warning. All meals are paid for by the Gainesville Sun.

Back Yard Burgers
3400 SW 34th St., 692-4442
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday


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