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Review: Heart Attack Grill - Tempe, AZ (w/ photos!)

  • s

When I turned 40 a couple of years ago, only a few days had passed before my primary care physician sent me a nice little reminder that now that I was over the hill it was time to do more tests and follow up on manly things. So, I went to the doctor's office and had things checked and prodded and touched and squeezed and the like. You would have thought he could have at least given me flowers or candy first.

Anyway, since I am the big guy with the ravenous appetite, I got the lecture about my weight and diabetes and coronary disease and the like. I was so dejected by the lecture I immediately went to Waffle House to perk myself up.

Of course, Waffle House is a health food store compared to the place I had dinner at the other night. (Thanks to the people over at the Southwest Board at Chowhounds.com for mentioning this place.) The Heart Attack Grill is not what the doctor ordered, and I know that either cardiologists will be filing lawsuits to close this place down or this place is owned by cardiologist in order to enhance business. In any event, I found myself in the midst of a restaurant who's main goal is to make your heart come to a full stop.

I dragged Dave the Roommate along just so I could get his take on it. We hit the I-10 and headed toward Tucson, taking the Warner Road exit and, heading east, we crossed Kyrene Road and saw the little strip mall about half a block past the light. You could easily miss it as the mall is fairly dark at night. We did catch the Heart Attack Grill sign and pulled into the lot.

We parked and went in. My first thought was on how tiny this place is. It really is a small place in a small strip mall. The restaurant has one booth, two tables and then lots of seats along the kitchen area where the cooks makes your made-to-order burger. The interior is brightly lit and the menu hangs just over the grill. Dave and I grabbed the booth and settled in.

All of the female servers are dressed in nurses' uniforms of various materials. Our first server (they all share serving duties) welcomed us and pointed out the menu.

The menu is very limited: three kinds of burgers, fries, cola, and/or beer. The photos, however, tell the true story. Each menu item has a full-color photo of what you are getting. There is nothing to hide here. The Single Bypass Burger ($7.00) is a half-pound patty on a fresh bun and on top of that is an egg, cheese, lots of bacon, lettuce, a beefsteak tomato slice, red onions, and, of course, secret sauce. The Double Bypass Burger ($9.00) is double everything (except the bun). The Triple Bypass Burger ($11.00) is a monster with triple everything.

The tailend of the menu had the Flatliner Fries ($3.00), a generous portion of steak fried cooked in pure lard (!) then topped with rich, brown gravy and dotted with mozzarella cubes. (Note: the sound you just heard was your arteries hardening.) You can also get them with guacamole. Then, for the drinks, you can get a soda ($2.00) or a beer ($3.00).

That was the menu. You can, of course, have your burger without the tomatoes or minus the secret sauce. I didn't inquire about any cost for extra onions or tomatoes or bacon because I was still processing the Triple Bypass Burger in my mind.

Dave decided that a Single Bypass would be fine for him and got his rather plain: no tomato, no onion, no lettuce. I got the Single Bypass as well, with no tomato. Before we got to order our fries, our server informed us that they had run out of cheese for the fries and apologized profusely for the oversight. No biggie for me as fries with ketchup was fine. Dave, however, decided that his condiment would be the brown gravy.

I selected a Diet RC for my soda, while Dave went with a Dr. Pepper.

A few moments later our drinks arrived in traditional waxed paper cups. We laughed at all the signs and noticed that the Heart Attack Grill is rather serious about its business. This is not a place to come to drink. There are signs everywhere pointing out that there is a three beer maximum for each patron and if you don't like it, get out and don't come back (more on this later).

Within minutes, our burgers arrived. You could smell the fresh cooked beef the minute the burgers were at the table. Each burger was dressed just like the photo said, and was wrapped in a foil sleeve and served on a wooden carving board. Thank the powers that be I didn't get the Double Bypass. The Single Bypass was huge, including the gigantic bun (which was exceptionally soft and fresh). It smelled wonderful and I knew Dave was having a blast as he had that knowing grin on his face.

I picked up my burger and took a bite. Then, I realized that my worst fears were confirmed: I was going to have to inform my cardiologist that I have a burger joint I will be visiting on many occasion. The burger was fantastic. The beef was cooked medium well and the Angus beef was very fresh. The lettuce and onions were cold and crisp and provided a great contrast to the hot beef and bacon. Speaking of which, the bacon was crisp, salty and delicious. The egg had been fried and placed on top and added a nice dimension to the burger. The cheese was overwhelmed by the other tastes. The sauce was, like all burger sauces, a cousin to Thousand Island Dressing, which was fine by me since I like that on my burger.

Dave was clearly enjoying his burger as well and noded vigorously when I asked if he would come back to the Heart Attack Grill again.

Next up were the fries. Another server brought out my plain fries first and set an empty, plastic cup next to my fries. She informed me that the cup was for ketchup in case I "dunked" them. The bowl of fries had about 3/4 pound of steak fries. I picked one up and set it back down quickly. The thing was smoking hot and needed to cool a few minutes.

Meanwhile, Dave got his Gravy Fries. Like mine, he had a big bowl of steak fries, but his were smothered in beef gravy. Looking at them really took me back to a few trips I made to Montreal in the 90s and when I had discovered poutine, a very Quebecois dish featuring fries, gravy and cheese curds.

I tried my fries and they were awesome. Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and salted with a course salt. They were also cooked in lard, so they automatically got bonus points. Dave really liked his fries as well and said the gravy was "really good." However, due to the richness of it all, he said he would probably get them plain next time and have them with ketchup.

For the next 30 minutes, we worked on our burgers and fries and talked about how much we were enjoying them. They really were excellent. Everything was excellent, in fact. I was unable to finish my fries and some of my burger because I was absolutely stuffed. However, I was not unhappy about it.

I took a few photos of Dave as well and one of the servers came to the table asking why we were taking photos. Since we had finished our meal, gotten our check and were ready to leave, I explained my food blog to our server, who was certain amused at the whole thing, especially me taking a photo of a hamburger. She was also a laugh riot as she begged me to mention that she was the "hot Asian chick" who served us. To be fair, we had a good number of people take care of us, so I would rate the service as excellent, especially the "hot Asian chick" who served us.

Our bill total was $24.00. Heart Attack Grill prices on the menu automatically includes tax, so what you saw was what you paid. Dave and I considered the meal to be an exceptionally good value because of the size of the servings and the freshness of the ingredients.

One thing you will notice at the Heart Attack Grill is how much the company values its employees. The signage really focuses on the fact that the Heart Attack Grill is not a bar. I was a bit shocked at the large sign over the urinal in the men's room that said very clearly that if you were there to drink and harass the servers, you were invited to never come back (I cleaned it up for family reading - it really was quite harsh). I also understand the reasoning. Any Tempe business that serves beer is potentially a college hangout in the making. But Heart Attack Grill does a good job of mipping that in the bud with its three-drink maximum policy and the fact it is only open until 8 PM each night.

Dave and I departed the Grill and sat in the car, both checking our pulses to make sure our hearts hadn't stopped beating. It really was a great stop for a meal and we will gladly go back for a nice big burger, fries, and cola.

I am sure my cardiologist will be understanding.

Heart Attack Grill
440 West Warner Road
Tempe, AZ 85284
Dress: Casual / Medical Scrubs
Website: www.heartattackgrill.com (Check out the links to the Quadruple Bypass Burger and the St. Valentines Day Massacre.

)

Link: http://phoenixfeast.blogspot.com

Image: http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c20...

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  1. Your review has me salivating all over the keyboard, Seth. Thanks for doing the job that somebody must undertake. I just got some great cholesterol numbers from the Dr. so we'll be there soon - the picture of the burger is gorgeous. Almost makes Roaring Fork's B.A. Burger look anemic. Can hardly wait!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sherri
      s
      Seth Chadwick

      Sherri,

      I know it was a sacrifice, but I was willing to do it for you all at Chowhound. :o)

      I know you will enjoy it!

      Link: http://phoenixfeast.blogspot.com

    2. j
      JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

      I'm glad you liked the Heart Attack, Seth. Just looking at the picture is making me hungry...

      Give me a buzz next time you're heading over there, I've been having wicked cravings for another one. Based on that thought, I may have to upgrade my ranking to the Heart Attack being the second best burger in the state, since Delux never gave me cravings like this.

      1. A burger lover begs to differ:

        1) I'm not a fan of over cooked, dry burgers. A fast food place with paper-thin patties can get away with it, but this was just nasty. I regret not taking a picture of this pile of sandpaper for comparison.

        2) Contrary to some reviews, everything comes as a 'package' - hence if you want just a burger, water, and no fries, it will still cost over 10 bucks! (and the cash register still breaks things down to the nearest penny, adding to the confusion of payment.)

        3) The women on the website are NOT the women working the restaurant. I almost had a heart attack (no pun intended) when my server - in a bikini - was elligible for retirement housing in Sun City. Absolutely horrifying - like something out of a mummy beach movie.

        Expensive, over cooked, dry food, served in a crowded little room by women who would be hard pressed to generate action on Van Buren after dark. Should be out of business by end of year.

        1. I heard about this place all the way in Boise Idaho. I took my family to the Phoenix area for Spring Break. I took some time out to visit the Grill. It is hands down the best burger I have ever had in my life. Great Service too. If you live in the Phoenix area you need to visit one of the two locations they have in Tempe (Kyrene and Warner) or the new location (Broadway and Hardy). OUTSTANDING!!

          1. I do not know how anyone can say anything about the Heart Attack Grill other than... GREAT! They have litterally the best burger I have ever tasted and the girls are, in a word... HOT!

            1. Bad news for you and your cardiologist, Seth.

              Heart Attack Grill closed up in Tempe and will reopen nearer to you on 44th St. & Thomas. I'm not sure exactly where and when, but keep an eye out.

              13 Replies
              1. re: tastyjon

                There's already a McDonald's and Bombshell's Cabaret on that corner...that's all we need! Well, twist my arm, I will probably stop.

                1. re: tastyjon

                  There's a new building going in just off the southwest corner; my guess is that's it. I can't imagine where else they'd fit it, it's either that or the defunct Jack-in-the-Box.

                  1. re: themis

                    It's definitely in the former Jack-in-the-Box. They are quite a ways from being done renovating but we drove by tonight and I noticed a femme mannequin in the front window sporting a nurse outfit. I'd say that's a pretty solid clue.

                    1. re: IamJacksBrain

                      Here's the mention in New Times

                      http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2007-0...

                      The HAG's website only shows the new address, which isn't much of an address, just the interstection.

                      1. re: IamJacksBrain

                        The second Tempe location (which was on Broadway a little east of Hardy) lasted about a month. I think it's now a Mexican quick-service place.

                      2. re: tastyjon

                        There was word that the AZ liquor control board would not issue a liquor license, under the argument that there isn't enough parking in the lot, which is utter rubbish. That never stopped The Vig, La Grande Orange, or Pizzeria Bianco from getting a license.

                        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                          Does this place even exist anymore? We were in from Vegas this past weekend and looked for the Warner Road location (unaware of its closing). Now I am reading the "new" location has also closed? Are there any locations left?

                          1. re: DownerDuo

                            The old Jack in the Box at 44th Street and Thomas is now The Heart Attack Grill.

                            1. re: Sammy9662

                              Saw a sign (actually a huge banner) a few weeks ago saying "Hiring Hot Girls" or something similar. Isn't that illegal with EEO regulations?

                              I know the burgers are reportedly quite good, but it gives me the creepy Hooters vibe.

                              1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                                Actually the banner said "Hiring Hot Nurses", and there has been much controversy over the "nurses" portion of that so-called title from advocacy groups concerned that they are degrading the nursing profession. I won't share my personal beliefs on the issue, however, I will say that the EEOC would have justification to take action against them if they could find that "hot" is a discriminatory hiring practice. In my one visit (and certainly last), I would say they aren't discriminating, so their food will likely be their downfall.

                                1. re: azhotdish

                                  I agree with you both. I too was put off by the creepy, juvenile, quasi-pornographic, seedy-side-of-Vegas vibe. And, as judged from the street, hotness (IMHO, eye of the beholder, yadda yadda yadda) is not a strict requirement for employment there.

                                  I've felt no urge even to give it a try. There are plenty of places around town where I can sit down with a good burger and a beer without cringing throughout the meal.

                      3. I believe HAG is having issues. They have several tax liens from Tempe. And the Phoenix location has shortened it's menu and the name has been covered on the outside. Basso may be better at cooking than at business.

                        >>>>>>>>>>>Action

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: Action

                          How on earth did they shorten their menu? It's one of the few places where the menu is simpler than In-N-Out.

                          Something even more puzzling... the 44th Street location might not actually *be* a HAG anymore. The website has yet another new version, this one listing the location as 440 W Warner, in Tempe, not too far from where they were originally. I'm very puzzled as to what is going on with them anymore.

                          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                            After putting a tarp over the sign on the 44th st location, and closing for a few days the nurses are now just dressed as tramps. There was a sign on the door, but I couldn't make it out. They even had the mannequin down for a few days, but know she is back up without the nurses uniform. Just a short black shirt or something.

                            I live right around the corner, but have managed to hold out on supporting these swine and the douchebaggery that surrounds that place.

                            1. re: ValleyFever

                              So, basically, they've just switched from white to black uniforms? ;-)

                              1. re: hohokam

                                yeah, that and looks like they are going through a name change. Everything else looks the same though.

                              2. re: ValleyFever

                                I had a friend who stopped in the other day and he said they were wearing jeans and t-shirts. Perhaps they've gone to no dress code at all.

                                1. re: ValleyFever

                                  After this report, it sounds like someone bought out the current location and Dr. Bob went back to Tempe.

                                  It's no more douchebaggery than a Hooters. It's sort of the same at both places... the food is good but the breasts are obviously enhanced.

                                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                    Oh, hooters carries just as much weight in the DB scale, but the food is far worse than the clientele.

                                    I might check out the grill now if the servers aren't the main attraction.

                                  2. re: ValleyFever

                                    I share VF's sentiments. I gamely tried HAG when the original store opened and the burgers were forgettable, sounds like they've improved over time. I won't forget the waitress sitting on the prep counter, flirting with customers and the grin on my guy friend's face as her uniform left little for his imagination.

                                    Now it's in my neighborhood and I just can't bring myself past that impression to try it again.

                                    1. re: AguasFrescas

                                      Funny, I found they went exactly the opposite direction, from heaven on a bun (and indeed it literally could be if you get the triple) to a yawn-fest. I think it all started to go south when they dropped the fried egg on the burger as even a possible option, and then continued when they got rid of the griddle in favor of a ridiculous conveyor belt char-broiler implement.

                                    2. re: ValleyFever

                                      It's called "The Grill Next Door" now. I think.

                                      1. re: ajs228

                                        Yep, you're correct. It's been that way a few weeks now. As I was going by last night around 8pm, there were exactly zero customers inside, and the "waitresses" were entertaining themselves inside. NOT a good sign.