The Burger Joint, one of Arcata's newest casual eateries, knows exactly what it is. After all, it's right there in the name.

The restaurant's relatively simple menu is welcome in this culinary era of inventive one-upmanship. Located behind the Arcata Co-op (835 J St.), in the former site of the restaurants Harvest and 3 Foods Cafe, it offers ample outdoor seating and an airy, high-ceiling indoor dining area.

click to enlarge The Classic with crispy fries and a nice, cold beer. - AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
  • The Classic with crispy fries and a nice, cold beer.

The physical space is your introduction to the Burger Joint's many pleasures. It is spacious, bright and relaxed. Part burger stand, part restaurant, you order from a big blackboard menu at the register and then make your way to an open table. The decor is winking (note the big print of Jules from Pulp Fiction biting into a burger) and the hall to the patio offers a couple of arcade games, including, yes, the classic "BurgerTime."

The Burger Joint is the latest in Arcata's long-overdue embrace of outdoor seating. It has sturdy picnic tables and a fenced-in patio area, which offers a sneaky people-watching experience in addition to your meal.

While the menu is focused, it provides some range. There are four signature beef burgers, four sandwiches, a few salads, an assortment of deep-fried sides and some noteworthy house favorites.

First up, the corndog ($6), which boasts a rich, crusty house-made batter. It's cooked to a delightful dark brown crunch that gives way to a sweet and soft-but-not-crumbly bite. You can also choose your dog — a Nathan's All Beef Frank, veggie dog or andouille sausage. Splitting one of these with your party makes for a good appetizer.

The Burger Joint's fried goodies are well worth the clogged arteries. The onion rings ($4) are massive, with the same thick battery texture as the corndogs. Sweet potato fries ($4) and nicely seasoned curly fries ($3) come to the table hot out of the fryer, and the thin-cut french fries have a nice salty bite. You have the option to order them smothered in house chili and cheese ($8) — and you definitely should.

While you may not be inclined to go to a place called the Burger Joint and order anything else, the owners are proud of their Chicken Cobb Salad ($14), which is adventurously topped with a fried egg. The sandwiches also don't disappoint. The Fried Red Hot ($14) is another battered success. The fried chicken is crunchy and tender with a combo of Frank's Red Hot and bleu cheese that invokes Buffalo wings.

The Salmonid ($15) is a juicy filet of salmon on a bed of arugula, topped with a creamy tartar sauce and a sprinkling of capers. The buns are toasted and soft without being damp and doughy. This signature sandwich is a satisfying alternative to the beef patty.

I assume that, like myself, you're going to the Burger Joint for hearty, old-fashioned beef burger, so I figured you'd only read this whole thing if I buried the lede.

click to enlarge Fry Trifecta: curly, thin-cut and sweet potato. - AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
  • Fry Trifecta: curly, thin-cut and sweet potato.

My eating companion is hooked on the Backwood ($14) — a patty adorned with a thick slab of bacon, Loleta cheddar cheese and a generous helping of tangy, sweet barbecue sauce. Be sure to grab extra napkins if this choice strikes your fancy.

The Juicy Lucy ($13) patty holds a little pocket of melted American cheese that temptingly oozes out after the second or third bite. If you're feeling a little more traditional, you can get the Shroomy ($14), which is covered in sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese or the Classic burger ($11), a perennial favorite. If you choose to "build your own burger," you have access to a variety of cheeses, sauces and toppings ranging from jalapeños to fried eggs. The possibilities are endless.

What's a burger place without a $5 shake? Cool off from that late Arcata sun with a few classic flavors or one of the daily specials.

Or perhaps you'd like to sip on something more adult-oriented? The Burger Joint gets extra points for being adjacent to Arcata's best taproom and cellar, Dead Reckoning Tavern. If you're into one-stop-shopping, however, the Burger Joint has its own great selection of bottled and draught beer, as well as local wine.

As they say, there's nothing quite like a burger done well.

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About The Author

Grant Scott-Goforth

Grant Scott-Goforth

Grant Scott-Goforth was an assistant editor and staff writer for The Journal from 2013 to 2017.

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