For as long as I can remember, Beef-A-Roo has been one of my most favorite places to go for fast food. Their beef sandwiches and cheddar fries are just too good to pass up. Every time I get a chance to visit back home, I go to Beef-A-Roo. In fact, in December 2010 after my plane landed in Milwaukee, at 8pm, in the freezing cold (it was -4 degrees), my sister drove me all the way back to Loves Park, our first stop – before stopping to see my parents – was Beef-A-Roo. Yes, it is that good … and I sure miss it living in the Pacific Northwest.
One thing I have to mention is: I have not yet forgiven Beef-A-Roo for their recent remodel of their Riverside location. It used to be the home of my favorite Beef-A-Roo (many of the restaurants have “themes” such as the Engine Co on North Alpine) which was modeled after a 50’s diner. It had the nostalgic metal signs, photos of rock n’ roll singers, Coca Cola memorabilia, and the great slide in booths with the metal edged tables. Ahh, I loved that Beef-A-Roo. So imagine my horror when I returned home in April 2010 to see that it had been replaced with a “new” version of Beef-A-Roo. Gone was the fun atmosphere of the diner. Replaced with things like neutral colors, faux slate floors, modern art, and … a fireplace? Tsk tsk, Beef-A-Roo owners. I have still not found it in my heart to forgive you.
Anyway, with our most recent trip to Beef-A-Roo in August 2011, we were met with some new menu items featuring new pretzel bread sandwiches. One sandwich in particular caught my eye: the new Jalapeno Popper Burger on pretzel bread. Without hesitation, my husband and I both ordered one … with cheddar fries, of course.
The pretzel bread was warm, fresh and soft. Tasted just like one of those large salted pretzels that you might dip into a cheese sauce. The burger itself was topped with a generous – but not over done – dollop of creamy cream cheese, jalapenos (pickled, not fresh), lettuce, and bacon. It reminded me of none other than jalapeno poppers (Yes, that was probably the point). With the burger, the pretzel bread, and all the fixings, it was hard for me to eat all of the burger. It was just too much food for me. The fries were their usual crisp – but not too crisp – perfection, slid into a cup with that delicious melted cheddar cheese drizzled on them. Like many others, I use a fork to make sure I get every last fry out of the cup. Their fries are unique due to the secret salt concoction that Beef-A-Roo sprinkles on their fries (The salt is available for purchase by the bag … we currently have two bags in our pantry).
We were in town for a week and we ended up making a second trip to the same Beef-A-Roo for another order of jalapeno burgers and cheese fries. I feel that to be fair, I do need to say that the second trip was not as great. The bread did not have that same “fresh” taste or smell. Perhaps the bread had been overcooked or maybe it had been sitting out too long but it just did not taste good at all. After a few bites, I mentioned to my husband that the sandwich just tasted weird. He said he was glad I said something because he was thinking the same thing. Unfortunately, we both ended up eating everything BUT the bread. After we were done eating, I did walk up to the counter and let the manager know that we were unhappy with the bread and I honestly just wanted to let him know that perhaps it was overcooked. The manager deeply apologized and offered to give our family a gift card to use on our next trip back to Beef-A-Roo. I declined the gift card because … well … we live 2,000 miles away from there. It was an appreciated gesture though.
Overall: Since we were pleasantly surprised with the awesome taste of the Jalapeno Popper Pretzel Bread sandwich the first time around, I would say it is something worth checking out. There are three other pretzel bread sandwiches available as well. I think the jalapeno popper one probably offers the most flavor – the most unexpected, delicious flavor.
Beef-A-Roo has been open in the Rockford area since 1967 and it isn’t hard to figure out why. They offer good food that blows other fast food joints away. Every time I have been to a Beef-A-Roo, I have always noticed how friendly their staff is. They are pleasant and you don’t need to remind them of their manners. They say “thank you” and really mean it. When you dine in, they have a staff member who walks around to each table offering a peppermint, a mint chocolate, and/or a wet wipe. I love that they do that. Even after I let the manager know that the food I ordered was not the best, he sincerely apologized, and offered me a reason to come back. I hope he knows that the next time I am home, I will be back to Beef-A-Roo … even without a gift card card inviting me back.
But can we please, please have the diner theme back? 🙂
You can visit this Beef-A-Roo at:
6380 E. Riverside Blvd
Loves Park, IL 61111