Dining Review: Baba's Burgers serves simple, affordable fare
Sometimes nothing's more satisfying than a no-frills hamburger: meat, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles in a plain bun. It's even tastier when affordable is part of the recipe.
Baba's Burgers in Manitou Springs fits the bill. Granted, there are plenty of ways to upgrade, but none that will break the bank and all that provide tasty variations.
This generic, eight-table restaurant doesn't fit the diner model, but it comes close in the simplicity of its menu, décor and service. Along with those basic ground-chuck burgers, some are made with elk and buffalo. All of the meats are hand-pressed, which means they aren't pre-shaped and taken out of a freezer bag. Gyros, a salad option, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches round out the menu.
This is an order-at-the-counter establishment. All burgers come with lettuce, tomato, dill pickle, ketchup and mayonnaise. I didn't notice the sign indicating that mayo was a standard condiment, but, to be honest, I was happy to have it slathered on the bun. I don't think about including it as part of my regular burger order, but I should. It adds a creamy, tangy component and makes a juicy burger even juicier.
A basic hamburger is $4.99; add-ons range from 75 cents to $1.50 and include grilled onions, avocado, bacon, mushrooms, cheese, spicy guacamole and jalapeno. The standard bun maintains its shape even as the contents ooze from the sides. It definitely requires at least two napkins to wipe away the mess while eating.
The buffalo burger at $8.99 is the most expensive menu item. This leaner beef can be dry, but not at Baba's. We added grilled onions, because they're hard to resist, and appreciated that they made something good even better.
The sides are the standard, pre-frozen variety, so we skipped the onion rings ($2.99) and fried zucchini ($2.99). Fries come in three types: regular, Greek garlic and chili cheese and in small and large servings. We opted for a large order of the Greek garlic fries ($2.99) These are French fries lightly tossed with garlic and oregano. I expected a bigger serving and something more distinct. Instead, the seasonings were subtle. This didn't make them bad, just somewhat disappointing.
Five chicken sandwich variations are featured: grilled, with bacon and ranch, southwest, fried and spicy fried. All are made with chicken breast and served with the same accoutrements as the hamburgers. The grilled chicken sandwich ($5.79) was a perfectly cooked piece of white meat, complete with impressive grill marks. Without the mayo, it would have been on the dry side.
For kicks, we ordered fried pickles ($2.99). I've seen these on plenty of menus but never tried them. The dill pickle remained crunchy even after being coated with bread crumbs and deep-fat fried. The ranch dressing enhanced them, but I wouldn't consider myself a convert to this side dish.
Lamb and chicken gyros, along with a gyro salad, seem out of place in a burger joint, but the lamb in the salad and the tzatziki (cucumber and yogurt) sauce served with it boasted authentic Greek flavors. The salad - with thin slices of meat over a bed of lettuce with onions and tomatoes - was refreshing.
Baba's Burgers offers little in the way of décor. A few photos of celebrities (Frank Sinatra, for example) eating a burger and numerous fliers for community events adorn the walls. For the price and the quality, what's on the walls matters less than what's served in the plastic, paper-lined baskets of food.
Address: 935 Manitou Ave.
Contact: 685-1242; babasburgers.com
Restaurant Character: Small, inexpensive hamburger joint
Rating Total: 2.83 out of 5 forks
Food: 3.5 out of 5 forks
Ambiance: 2 out of 5 forks
Service: 3 out of 5 forks
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily
Entrees: $2.29 to $8.49
Credit Cards: Yes
Vegan Options: Yes
Outdoor Dining: Yes
Gluten-free Options: Yes
What's online as of June 7, 2017:
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4.5 out of 5 stars based on 48 reviews on TripAdvisor
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4.5 out of 5 stars based on 48 reviews on Yelp
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No violations noted by the El Paso County Public Health.