BURGERS AND "FRINGS" >>>
Lefty's Burger Shack opened in University Place on Saturday, July 23. Arriving at 11 a.m. last Tuesday, I had thoughts of what a fried egg might be like on one of Lefty's burgers, but quickly dashed those as my nose picked up a scent I am unashamedly fond of: a hot grill kicking up the aroma of meat.
The first customers of the day, my lunch date Angela Jossy and I stood outside for a minute or two (there's no indoor service, more on that later) a little confused. The doors on both sides were blocked, but there were people inside.
I knocked on a window bearing a hand-written sign - "No shakes today. Sorry." The 5-year-old in me wanted to cry. Owner Pam Hubert opened the window and said they were ready to make food. That's good, I thought. We were ready to eat.
The menu at Lefty's is huge, hand-painted in simple lettering and mounted on the outside of the building above the order and pick-up windows. We had to step back to read it. Deluxe quarter-pound burgers start at $3.25. Price increases if you add bacon, cheese or extra patties. I cheekily asked what was in the secret sauce; Hubert fired right back, "It's a secret." I instantly liked her.
We ordered burgers and sat at one of three covered picnic tables. Those and two surfboards turned benches make up Lefty's seating. Hubert says she was told she had to have two bathrooms inside the tiny building and one had to be handicap-accessible or she couldn't have indoor seating. "There isn't room for all that, so we can't have people in here and we can't use the counter or anything," she tells me. I hear her frustration, but she maintains a smile. After over two years of just trying to open the place, I imagine she'd be able to smile through a hurricane.
Within five to seven minutes our order is ready; Hubert calls my name out the window. I feel like my mom was calling me in for lunch.
Jossy's deluxe burger - no onion - was made correctly, and my bacon-blue cheeseburger was all I'd built it up to be in my mind. Both had shredded lettuce, pickle and tomato that balanced meat and cheese inside slightly toasted and still warm Kaiser buns.
Three (maybe four) pieces of freshly cooked bacon stuck out the sides of my burger. Blue cheese crumbles made melty by the hot burger patty, plus a bit of blue cheese dressing, added a mellow twang of flavor. Juicy (not too thick and with a subtle pink showing), the star, of course, was the burger patty itself. A+
Hubert offers "frings" - a half order of old-school, crinkle-cut fries and beer-battered onion rings in one bag. Nicely crisp and golden in color, the frings brought to mind being a teen at Arctic Circle and dunking bites in pink fry sauce.
Jossy and I chatted and ate in solitude until one by one cars started rolling into the parking lot. Hubert, her sons and daughter were quickly put to work as a line formed. My cell phone showed 11:30 a.m. and ten people stood patiently, waiting their turn to order a much-anticipated grub. Others milled about after ordering. Lunch for two people sans drinks was less than $11. That's a win in anyone's book.
Beyond burgers, Lefty's also has chicken sandwiches, clam strips, fish and chips, pickle chips, ice cream cones, 20-ounce milkshakes (they will have them regularly soon, we were promised), Nathan's hot dogs, corn dogs and chicken strips.
[Lefty's Burger Shack, 8317 27th St. W., University Place]