I should probably preface this by saying I am not a big fan of burgers. It’s been nearly a decade since I last ate meat, and even before my vow to be a vegetarian in my late teens, I didn’t particularly care for most protein.
But when I was offered a hosted lunch at the new Aioli Burger on Bell Road, something intrigued me. Perhaps it was the fry flight. I had seen pictures of this glorious gourmet twist on the classic fast food staple, paired with a slew of delectable dipping sauces from white truffle to chipotle. Maybe it was the mouth-watering selection of premium milkshakes, which range from a cannoli-flavored concoction to a peanut butter chocolate malt. But because I’m burger-averse, I was immediately enamored with the plant-based options that Aioli offers. The best part is that they do not feel like unappetizing afterthoughts like so many vegan options at non-vegan eateries. It appears, my friends, that Aioli Burger is not just about the burger. There’s so much more to explore.
I may not eat meat, but fear not, carnivorous companions, I brought along a reliable authority on all things edible, my foodie boyfriend, Bogar. He is the discerning culinarian in this relationship and has very trustworthy taste buds. I knew he would be the perfect person to bring along on this particular escapade because A) he is my favorite human and B) the man loves burgers.
While Aioli does have more to offer than just burgers, they are, in fact, the star of the show. The menu boasts 10 different options, from the signature Aioli Burger to the spicy New Mexico to the schmancy White Truffle Swiss. Any of these can be made vegan with a Beyond patty, but I had my sights set on the Falafel, which features a house-made chickpea patty, pickled onions, tangy mango sauce, cucumber and black pepper aioli. Bogar kept it classic with the Aioli Burger, a gargantuan gourmet hamburger with aged sharp cheddar, crisp lettuce, applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onion, vine-ripe tomato and roasted garlic aioli. Each patty is perched between soft and buttery brioche buns, but you can also get the lettuce wrap version or a gluten-free bun.
You have probably surmised by now that this burger joint’s “thing” is aioli, a French-style mayo made with garlic and olive oil. Each burger is slathered with a different flavor. But don’t get caught up deciding which one you want to try. If you want to have a smorgasbord of sauces, your best bet is to get the fry flight, which comes with all five of Aioli’s aiolis: basil garlic, chipotle, white truffle, roasted garlic and black pepper. We started by trying to rank which one we liked the best, but we eventually gave up because they were all equally delicious. Aioli also has a unique array of appetizers and sides that you wouldn’t expect at your average burger peddler, such as mac and cheese bites, roasted veggies and caprese salad. We shared the elote (Mexican street corn), which is sprinkled with smoked paprika, cotija cheese and fresh cilantro and daubed with – you guessed it – aioli. But this time it’s lime cilantro. And it’s absolutely delicious.
Aioli’s new location is quaint and clean, with wood-paneled walls, red accents and modern lighting fixtures that add a fun, fresh atmosphere to an already magnificent experience. Unlike some burger spots, it’s somewhere you’d want to sit and stay awhile. And we did.
While Aioli couldn’t quite convert me into a carnivore, it does an excellent job of catering to the non-meat-eating set. And Bogar said the Aioli Burger is the best burger he’s ever had. We suspect it might have something to do with the aioli, but we’ll be back to make sure.
430 E. Bell Road, Phoenix