I do my best to find hidden gems around town, but with little time and minimal resources or recommendations this is often difficult. There are a few such locations on my to-do list from an old top 10 burger list that I’ve had a hard time getting to, and it’s time I get back to those priorities. I believe the last location that fit the bill was the Dispensary Lounge, and it turned out to be everything I hoped for. First on my list to accomplish was The Badger Cafe; the background sounded similar so I had high hopes. Did it come through?
Badger Cafe and its accompanying bar the Rum Runner have been around since 1979. It’s a tiny place with only 4-5 booths, a handful of tables and a short diner style counter. The bar it’s tied to looks like it has great ambiance if you’re looking for an old school local Vegas institution. It’s in an older part of town on East Tropicana; the strip malls feels this way, as does the staff and patrons. In many ways this was feeling similar to my experience at the Dispensary already. The menu has plenty of items, too many to mention. What is missing from the menu but quickly located at my table is $3.99 burger menu; a checklist of items to build your own 1/2 lb burger including several free items, several toppings for $.50, $.75 and $1.
I built my burger with lettuce, pickles, tomato, grilled mushrooms and double swiss. After a quick few minutes my burger arrived in a red plastic basket. Upon first bite the meat had great char flavor and was cooked perfectly. The mushrooms were flavorful although not too abundant. The pickles were good, the lettuce and tomato were fine. The sesame bun was soft, fresh and perfectly proportioned. The cheese was a bit too much; maybe it would be enough if it was a bit better as it was a little too salty and stood out, but hardly bad for the cost.
The fries were good; cooked well, flavorful and a bit different looking than normal. They had a familiar taste I couldn’t quite identify at first but by the end I realized they tasted like tater tots. I don’t always like tots, and for some reason they were great until I realized this. I still found myself eating more of them after I finished my burger. With all of my toppings and add-ons my meal came to $8.91, with my burger being $5.74 of that and worth every penny. Even at almost $9 for this meal, it’s great. If you were ok with it and skipped some of the extras you could have an amazing $4 burger. It still doesn’t quite beat Dispensary’s burger but its damn close. This is an excellent example of a cheap, delicious pub burger, so if you’re looking for some old school ambiance in a dive bar-type setting or even on the diner side, it’s worth the trip.