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Revisit: Boogie Burger

The restaurant beefs up its image under the bun with a new home on the other side of Broad Ripple.

Somewhere between a patio barbecue and a walk-up Dairy Queen, the adorably quirky digs of the original Boogie Burger won us over from the start. Tucked inside a broom closet next to what is now Ripple Inn, this lovably shabby burger joint gave off an undiscovered vibe, even four years after it opened and lines were curling out the doors on summer evenings. We were always surprised that a place this humble could put out such scrumptious fare: two-handed, well-seasoned burgers with unexpected toppers like grilled pastrami, peanut butter, and fried eggs. On the side, deeply golden fries were flecked with fresh garlic and parsley.

So we were worried when co-owner Mark Radford announced plans to move the place down the street. His new, roomier location may have upped the seating to 40 (from 14), but the address had been a bit of a Bermuda Triangle. It once housed The Tin Star, a longtime kid favorite where you could eat your breaded tenderloin inside a jail cell from the Old West. But a barbecue takeout, a Pizza King, and the erstwhile Red Eye Cafe had all come and gone in a blink. Would the giant burger come tumbling down as well?

From the packed parking lot to the cluster of customers waiting for their orders inside, it would appear that Radford’s gamble is paying off. Little has changed since the most recent tenants’ renovations, save for the addition of plenty of funky art on the tomato-red and Velveeta-yellow walls (the jail cells are long gone). An awkward row of high stool seats cramps the main counter, and tables and booths are tucked behind a few too many pillars. But hadn’t its ungainly nature been a real part of Boogie Burger’s original charm?

Plus, the burgers are still big—and big on flavor. The Wild Wild West (pictured), Boogie Burger’s most popular, offers up the delectable trifecta of cheddar cheese; thick, smoky bacon; and barbecue sauce, all sent a little closer to the edge by a layer of crispy beer-battered onion rings. A juicy grilled ahi tuna sandwich with a spicy Dijon-based bistro mayo impressed even the carnivores at the table. And shakes, especially a super-creamy banana-pudding version, gave sweet confirmation that Boogie Burger will keep drawing us back, wherever it may roam.

Photograph by Tony Valainis.

This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue.