Smoky-flavored beef patties and steak are the stars at straightforward Menaul eatery The Grill
Photos by Wes Naman
By Justin De La Rosa
“I don’t know if I could realistically take another bite,” I thought to myself as I took another bite of my Papa Burger at The Grill.
There’s just something comforting and irresistible about a freshly
grilled, hand-portioned patty that is too big for its own bun. It tastes
like home, like something my dad would cook on the backyard grill, but
this outdoor grill is inside a restaurant.
The Grill used to be a Westside eatery, known as Grandpa’s Grill on Route 66, but owner Phil Chavez
— a friendly, busy presence in his business — brought his grill skills
to a little strip mall on Menaul between Madison and Jefferson. There’s
nothing extravagant about Chavez’s operations. He turns out traditional
grilled food and lets the smoky mesquite flavors speak for themselves.
After years of using the same grill, the grill itself has built up its
own character and distinct flavor.
The Grill isn’t some pretentious artisan burger joint. It is — like its
name — a simple restaurant. The menu requires no detailed descriptions,
except to let you know that what you’re ordering is served with fries or
beans and a tortilla, if you prefer. They have three different sizes of
burgers to satiate any appetite, as well as a 16-ounce rib eye, several chicken options (like a chicken sandwich with fries for $5.89), hot dogs
($2.89 for a jumbo) and a short list of deep-fried favorites. Though
it’s an easy menu to navigate, deciding on one thing was hard — so my
friend and I ordered four.
Starting off with a couple baskets of fried zucchini and onion rings
is advisable at an affordable $2.89 each. It seems like most places that offer fried zucchini slice it into coins, then batter and fry them, but The Grill is only the second restaurant I’ve been to where the zucchini are cut into 3-inch sticks – which I find to be a better route to take. Preparing them in this style allows them to stay firm and not get soggy with oil. The rings were fried to the crispy and golden perfection everyone hopes for when ordering their favorite fried treasure.
If the fried appetizers aren’t what you’re in the mood for, worry not – there is a condiment bar in the middle of the restaurant with free chips and salsa to snack on as well. Chavez makes the chips and salsa fresh daily. Even if chips and salsa aren’t your thing, give The Grill’s a shot so you can taste the freshness of the medium-hot piquancy.
While you’re waiting for your burger or steak to cook, there’s plenty to look at — including your burgers and steaks while they’re being cooked. Yes, there is a large glass window into the kitchen that frames the unique open grill, so you can watch the cook — sometimes Chavez — as he grills your food over wood coals. The walls of the restaurant are covered with a wide array of vintage knick-knacks from kitchen tools to license plates, old photographs to instruments. The restaurant’s garage-sale-chic décor has a certain charm to it that makes for a relaxed environment which feels like home.
Beware when your half-pound Papa Burger arrives ($7.89 with a soda and fries). The smoky aroma will induce salivation. The burger is served up without any garnish, so step over to the condiment bar and build it up the way you like it. As I said before, the patty is so wide that it exceeds the diameter of the bun, so your first bite is going to be all meat, which isn’t a bad thing coming from Chavez’s grill.
The 16-ounce rib-eye is hand cut and a little bit on the thin side, so it may be best to order it medium rare. Lightly seasoned, these steaks require no steak sauce or extra salt and pepper — each bite is full of smoky flavor. For $13.95, you can get a fresh steak made to order and your choice of fries or beans and a tortilla, which is hard to find anywhere.
I’m looking forward to my next visit so I can try out the chicken sandwich, maybe a hot dog and definitely an order of the fried zucchini. The Grill is a great place to go for an easy-going meal that satiates your desire for straight-ahead food.
4615 Menaul NE, 505.872.9772