Behemoth burgers, homemade sauces and more at the Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen in Tempe
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - I’m back in the Burger Series saddle, with this latest foodie venture bringing me back to Tempe to check out a burger joint that was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives! If you’re looking for a burger that requires two hands (in one burger’s case, it wouldn’t hurt to have more!) and will more than likely send you home with either a full belly or leftovers, the Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen has got you covered. The restaurant is near downtown Tempe, at the corner of 1st Street and Farmer Avenue, which is just west of the roundabout where Rio Salado Parkway and Ash Avenue meet.
This lodge is what you’d expect walking in, a wonderful country/ski lodge interior aesthetic with a cozy and upscale rustic appearance. There’s a wide-open room to the right featuring wood ceilings and antler-themed chandeliers. Walking through the quaint restaurant, you’ll pass the pine-wood log bar, leading you to an expansive patio area with long tables and a lengthy outdoor bar. This lodge’s charm only gets better because the hefty burgers and classic comfort foods coming out of this kitchen seal the deal on a great meal. And to top it all off, this locally-owned joint emphasizes its from-scratch recipes for sauces, sides, and entrees.
The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen is the inception of co-owner Aaron May and former NFL defensive end, Jared Allen. The two initially opened two Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen locations, one in Fort Collins in May of 2014 and another in Scottsdale the same year. The Scottsdale location closed in November 2014, announcing at the time it would be relocating to its Tempe location, which opened in 2015. The Fort Collins location was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” in 2015 but eventually closed in January of 2016. When the Lodge was featured on the popular Food Network show, Fieri was a big fan of the Pork Green Chili and the Habanero Parmesan Burger (which would later be renamed the Triple D Burger). Although May is still involved as a partner, most would be familiar with his numerous appearances and roles on several of Fieri’s Food Network shows like Guy’s Grocery Games, Guy’s Big Bite, and Guy’s Ranch Kitchen.
Justin Glancy, General Manager of the Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen in Tempe, says the decision was eventually made to rename the Habanero Parmesan Burger due to the increased demand by guests for the burger seen featured on Diner’s, Drive-Ins & Dives. So Glancy renamed it the ‘Triple D Burger’ to continue to meet the needs of their beloved patrons.
“Everything we do here is something that we want to serve our family or eat ourselves. Everything is made with love and with pride, and I really want people to enjoy themselves when they’re here,” Glancy said. “Everything should be picture perfect and should be made to your specifications, you spend good money, and that’s what you deserve.”
The love and pride sure shine through in some of the housemade sauces and sides! For the Fried Chicken Wings, for example, there are the dry rubs like Jamaican Jerk or Lemon Pepper and sauces like Real Ghost Pepper, Maroon (BBQ), or a Carolina Gold. Even the ranch is homemade! As a midwesterner at heart, and overall ranch enthusiast, this is some seriously solid ranch. And as you’ll see on the Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeños below, the chipotle aioli is also made in-house!
“It’s really just about experimenting in the kitchen, or staff experimenting on the side, and then, ‘oh yeah, that’s good, now what if we did this with it’ and then it ends up turning into a masterpiece or something that we feel is a masterpiece and we keep around for years,” Glancy explained.
Even the Sasquatch Burger’s roots stem from kitchen experimentation and utilizing ingenuity at the time.
“Producers from the Food Network had reached out and asked us to make a burger that was different, and during that time, there were popular shows like Finding Bigfoot and Bigfoot was popular. We just did our little semi-creative spin on it; everyone’s talking about bigfoot, well, what about sasquatch? So we tried to make a huge burger that’s memorable, and you wouldn’t believe what you saw when it came out, so that’s what the sasquatch burger was about,” Glancy said.
Glancy says guests have fun with the burger, sometimes ordering it for their friends as a prank or eating challenge. He said several years ago, a frequent customer used to order it and would give each of his daughters a grilled cheese, then eat the burger part himself.
Now for the meat of the story! As you’ve seen from the photos, these burgers mean business. The restaurant’s iconic Sasquatch Burger is not only eye-catching and ‘Gram’able,’ but when you get into the heart of it (literally, the middle section), it’s actually a really tasty burger.
This goliath burger consists of two Texas toast grilled cheese sandwiches as buns, with the focal point being your lettuce, tomato, onion, a THICK burger patty, crispy onion strings, cheese, and bacon! The fun with this burger patties down to how one decides to try and eat it. You can take it apart and eat it in sections, go at the center Jenga-style, smash it all down as best you can to a slightly more bite-able form, or divide amongst others and conquer! Whatever your approach, this is simply a fun burger to try and eat. The burger is well seasoned and cooked, with a great cheese melt. The crispy onion strings are a notable difference-maker, with a housemade blend of seasoning and batter before getting the deep-fried treatment. There’s a slight kick to them, adding a nice heat and crunch factor to the overall burger. Unless you plan to share, you’ll more than likely have leftovers, which in this case, is a great problem to have!
The Triple D Burger (formerly the Habanero Parmesan Burger) is another staple creation of Aaron May. This hearty patty is infused with the likes of finely diced habaneros, parmesan, and bacon! This mouth-watering delight is then topped with the housemade Big Foot Dip, MORE bacon (because, why not?), shredded lettuce and tomato. I could not speak more highly of a burger. The sheer surge of flavor after biting into this patty was palpable. The heat isn’t overwhelming, has great control, and the crispy bacon overload makes this a very juicy and delectable burger overall. Trust me; you can’t go wrong ordering this burger! And, of course, the house-cut sweet potato fries are sensational due to their freshness. It’s worth noting the marshmallow sauce, another housemade sauce sure to bring a smile to any face. It’s such a sweet and wonderful pairing for these fries, a must-try!
When it comes to enjoying a great burger in a great atmosphere, the Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen doesn’t disappoint. From sizeable burgers, delicious and ingenious homemade sauces, and Triple D recognition, the burgers got the street cred, but the Lodge has other handcrafted creations worth checking out as well. The kitchen also makes some remarkable variations of chicken sandwiches, makes unique dry rubs and sauces for their fried chicken wings, and still serves up another Triple D favorite -- their scratch-made Green Chili Pork soup, which consists of slow-roasted pork, New Mexico green chilis, serrano chilis, all topped with jack cheese and served with warm flour tortillas. Feeling hungry yet? The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen is a great burger destination and more for those in search of a new restaurant to try!
This is the fourth 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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