Burgers get a clean bill of health at this beach-bar inspired resto, but other menu items could use a little doctoring.
Rock stars and rehab: They go together like ice cream and pot brownies, all of which you’ll technically find at Rehab Burger Therapy. Conceived by a trio of former Oregano’s execs, including the lead guitarist of metal band Sacred Reich, this Old Town Scottsdale burger joint borrows liberally from the aforementioned pizza chain’s people-pleasing formula – irreverent twists on American faves – down to the Pizookie-like “Pot Brownies” ($5), served hot in an iron pot. But like a rock star hungry for movie roles and clothing lines, Rehab may be trying to wear too many hats.
The restaurant looks like a cross between a surf shop and a funky beach bar, with a booming soundtrack, multi-hued walls, and bikes and surfboards hanging from the ceiling. Friendly, laid-back servers get the job done with more enthusiasm than polish. For a semi-fast food joint, it takes a surprising amount of time to get the food on the table. But if you order one of the burgers, you’ll find it well worth the wait. They come in two sizes – the 10-ounce “rehab” and the 5-ounce “relapse.” You can choose a pretzel or whole wheat bun, but brioche comes closest to the Platonic burger ideal. The deftly seasoned patty looks hand-formed, with slightly coarse beef that boasts the perfect ratio of fat to lean. The grill master consistently gets the requested degree of doneness down pat.
The Hatch chile and cheddar ($10.50/rehab, $7.50/relapse) and Swiss cheese and sautéed mushroom ($11/$8) burgers are tops. Pleasantly over-stacked, juicy, and flavorful, they’re among the best in town. Fries are OK, but crunchy-soft sweet potato tots are delish. Of the nine accompanying sauce options, the pesto aioli and chipotle aioli shine.
Among the apps, the crisp-skinned classic chicken wings ($7) and plump, richly caramelized “pig wings” (aka ribs, $10) are winners. Tender steamed clams in garlicky, buttery broth with a slab of toast ($12) are also excellent, but heavily-breaded calamari strips ($7.50) are rubbery and bland. The pulled pork sandwich ($10) drowns in sweet, one-dimensional barbecue sauce and lacks the tangy crunch of coleslaw. Both the salty hot dog ($7.50) and its wizened bun were bone-dry, and fish tacos ($9) were over-battered and flavorless on leathery tortillas. (Checking the menu later, I realized we weren’t served the accompanying pineapple teriyaki sauce, which might have added some spark.)
For dessert, try the peanut butter marshmallow pot brownies ($5), which are as moist, gooey and wonderful as they sound. But take a pass on the wan, runny milkshakes ($6.50).
If the people behind Rehab want “Dr.” Jeffords’ advice, they should give that menu a little therapy. Concentrate on doing a few things – like burgers and wings – really well instead of mixing in Mexican food, pasta and barbecue, and you’ll be rock stars.
Address: 7210 E. Second St., Scottsdale
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday;
11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Highlights: Hatch chile and cheddar burger ($10.50/$7.50); mushroom Swiss burger ($11/$8); chicken wings ($7); pig wings ($10); clams ($12); brownies ($5)
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