Creative, flavor-packed burgers wow the taste buds at Paradise Valley Burger Co.
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Paradise Valley Burger Company comes highly recommended by Arizonans and the likes of Guy Fieri and Travel Channel’s Man v.s. Food -- so obviously, I had to check out the creative concoctions being pattied up at this North Phoenix burger joint!
Just across the street from the Abrazo Scottsdale Campus and Paradise Valley High School, the entrance to this burger bonanza at 40th Street and Bell Road is a revolving door of belly-rumbling patrons in and smiling satisfied customers out. This modest eatery welcomes its patrons with framed artwork of delectable foods along its walls and scents of hearty beef and fried goodies emanating from the kitchen. The Paradise Valley Burger Company was established in 2011 by Owner and Chef Bret Shapiro, who found himself in a right place right time scenario. Shapiro was in the process of joining the previous restaurant that used to occupy the space, but when that restaurant’s owner decided to call it quits, Shapiro jumped at the opportunity to make his own culinary mark.
“So, I contacted the landlord and said, ‘hey, I want to do this concept.’ I was a burger cook at that point at La Grande Orange in Phoenix, so I was like yeah, let’s make this happen. And then from there, opened up a location, was 27 years old, and all of a sudden, I’m like, ‘how do I get people in here?’ Better think of some burgers that will blow people’s socks off, and here I am. Each one of them kind of has really its own story,” Shapiro said.
And since 2011, what a ride it’s been! Shapiro and his team have crafted some unique burgers over the years, with some gaining notoriety from network shows like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and Man v. Food. Two of Shapiro’s burgers, the Booze Burger and Country Fried Burger, were favorites of Guy Fieri’s and featured on Triple D. Another crowd favorite is the Brûlée Burger. If the name alone doesn’t intrigue you, the story behind the burger’s inception should spark your taste buds, and it all stems from Shapiro’s previous line of work: glass-blowing.
“One day during a cookout, I looked at a blowtorch while I was cooking a hamburger, and I thought, ‘hmm blowtorch hamburger, that would be an interesting combination.’ Fast forward three years later, that was the first idea that popped into my head; I wanted to do a crème brûlée burger,” Shapiro explained. “So, what I did was I burnt sugar on the bun to get a nice blackened, nice good texture on there. And then that cream part is going to be Havarti and the egg yolk; it’s got bacon, pickled onion, thousand island dressing. So, it kind of captures a little bit of crème brûlée aspect, but a whole lot of delicious hamburger vibe.”
What a flavor profile indeed! The levels of sweet and savory this burger reaches are nearly unparalleled. The initial sweetness reaches the palate first, with some bite added from the pickled onion. The sweet intensity is complemented by the savory bacon and fried egg, whose yolk the melted Havarti cheese blends heavenly with once that first bite allows the yolk to see the light of day. This burger has so many flavor mechanics at work, and albeit messy once that yolk gets involved, this breakfast-meets-dessert burger is a refinement of burger innovation.
Hungry yet? Well, perhaps you’d fancy a burger honored in the halls of Flavortown! The Country Fried Burger is a stellar option, with a lightly fried beef patty smothered with cheese and a jalapeno/thyme reduction. A full bite packs a delicious punch from bun to bun, with a stack of crispy fried onions to add an extra layer of crunch and a hint of caramelized sweetness.
“The Country Fried Burger, that one I wanted to eat a deep-fried hamburger. That was kind of how that occurred, so that was the first deep-fried burger we did. Since then, we’ve done maybe 30 to 50 varieties, dead serious,” Shapiro said.
The other burger featured on Triple D was the Booze Burger, a burger with nearly every ingredient infused with (sort of obvious on this one) alcohol!
“The inspiration for that one was I wanted each ingredient to be alcohol. So, the patties are beer-battered, the sauce is a green chili/bacon/vodka cream sauce, and then the chilis have been pickled in whiskey,” Shapiro explained.
And it doesn’t stop there! While some signature burgers have prevailed over the years earning their permanent keep on the menu, Shapiro’s imagination for new and innovative concepts never stops. His creativity and manifesting of delicious foods for all to enjoy are displayed through new sides or burgers, found weekly on the whiteboard to the right of the main menu. After 11 years, with most weeks featuring a new variety or creation, Shapiro says he’s produced over 300 types of new hamburgers.
“Every single week, you can come here and look at the whiteboard and find a new burger, and that’s kind of what keeps me going. This last week it was the Scott Burger; it was actually dedicated to a longtime regular of ours. He came in every week for about a decade and ordered avocado and cheddar only, so we took that to a little bit of a different level. Made a house-made cheddar ciabatta for that, a Tillamook-cheddar cheese crisp, melted cheddar, then we make a guacamole and avocado ranch for that burger. Always finding inspiration about what’s going on at that time and jazzing it up,” Shapiro explained.
With such an array of ingredient combinations, ranges of taste, and downright burger creativity, Shapiro says his inspiration is simply to make delicious food you won’t find anywhere else.
“We’re very innovative here, so for 11 years now, we’ve been coming up with different stuff you’re not going to find anywhere else. So that, I would say, is our main inspiration is to be delicious, to be different, to be creative and to just kind of keep the boundaries moving,” Shapiro said.
That innovation doesn’t just revolve around the burgers, with many of the sides at Paradise Valley Burger Company going above and beyond your traditional burger shop menu. From the sweet, sugary, and maple-drowned French Toast Fries, Sweet Tater Tots, to the Cardinals Fries, it shouldn’t come as a surprise by now that Shapiro’s drive elevates his sides to the same level of institution as his burgers. One side, in particular, the Cardinals Fries, was actually conceived because of a live Super Bowl segment Shapiro had with Good Morning Arizona!
“They wanted a Cardinals food, so I thought I’d create these French fries. It’s Cardinals French fries; they’re very Southwestern. So I get here at 6 o’clock in the morning, turn the lights on, do other things, and the segment got burned, so it never actually went down. Never got to film it, but those fries were born on that day,” Shapiro said with a chuckle.
Albeit sad we weren’t able to make that segment, I’m happy to report the Cardinals Fries turned out great! The well-seasoned fries are almost completely hidden under a heaping serving of shaved cheddar, smoky mouth-watering pulled pork, that sensational green chili/bacon/vodka cream sauce, serrano chilis, and cilantro. Get your forks ready because these fries are going to bombard your taste buds -- a must-try side!
The ingenuity and spark for continually delivering something new that pushes culinary boundaries are always worth pursuing, and Shapiro’s trajectory is aligned with just that -- to serve up a burger where no burger has gone before! Stop in and check out one of the acclaimed burgers or try something new; either way, you’ll enjoy a truly great burger experience at Paradise Valley Burger Company.
This is the third segment in a series on burgers in the Phoenix metro. Arizona’s Family Foodie is rolling out to some beloved local joints and restaurants around the Valley to check out some seriously stacked patties and two-handed beasts. Whether it’s a local staple or something new pushing the boundaries with one of America’s arguably most cherished foods, let’s roll up our sleeves and enjoy some juicy burgers!
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