RIFF BURGERS reviewed by ELLIS
We went into Franklin on a Thursday night craving burgers. Now, I’m not talking about “let’s hit up Five Guys for a quick burger.” No, we wanted a good, old-fashioned, sloppy, local burger. If you couldn’t tell, burgers are my favorite food (which I’m sure I’ll regret when I’m 50), and I’ve made it my goal to find the best in Nashville.
We first went to Cool Springs to look for Wynn’s Burgers and Ice Cream (which was formerly “Burgers ‘N Cream”) only to find that it had closed. The good news, however, is that the space had a sign advertising that a second location for “Burger Up” was coming, which I most definitely will visit in the future.
Our next attempt was Battle Ground Brewery in downtown Franklin. BGB is built in the old Franklin jail and had one of the best local Angus burgers I’ve ever had, along with delicious friend pickles (fodder for a future review). BGB was closed for an event, though, and I began to worry that my burger-tite would not be satiated.
However, as we were leaving Franklin, we noticed Riff Burgers. Built in an old auto garage, the blue-and-white motif and large guitar sculpture outside drew us in. Looking more like a ’50′s diner than an upscale joint, I prepared myself for a routine experience.
Riff is far from routine. The decor inside is a combination of musical and folk art, focusing on blues artists from Memphis down through the Mississippi Delta. Colorful art and mounted guitars cover the walls, and a huge mural of West Tennessee covers one full wall.
The menu offers eight flavors of burger, ranging from “Classic” to “Lamb” (Greek) to “Veggie.” They offer four fried side items: okra, skinny fries, sweet potato fries, and onion rings. On most occasions, my wife and I will split entrees to get a more complete taste of a restaurant we intend to review. On this occasion, our overwhelming desire to have a classic cheeseburger led us both to try the “Classic”. We did split all four side items, though.
I had the Classic Burger with okra and regular potato fries. The Classic burger has mayo, ketchup, mustard, pickles, onions, shredded Iceburg lettuce, and American cheese on a regular bun. The burger was exactly what I had been wanting: an old-fashioned slop-fest burger with fresh, local ingredients. It was delicious.
The okra was good, and I’m sure is made by Riff’s, but tasted similar to frozen fried okra that one might buy at the grocery. If you like friend okra, though, it was a unique side to have with a burger. The skinny fries were great: crispy friend goodness that you grab up in bundles and dunk aggressively into your favorite condiment.
The side condiment on my tray was Riff’s “honey horseradish” sauce, which was a delicious compliment to both the burger and both sides. It was an amazingly sweet and shocking blend that I’ve never tried before. I would highly recommend getting a side ($0.50 extra) to use with whichever burger you choose.
The onion rings and sweet potato fries were equally delicious. The horseradish sauce especially complimented the sweet potato fries, which tasted distinctively like sweet potato without being overbearing. The onion rings were daintily fried and fell apart. The onion was sweet and crunchy, and were my favorite of all the sides.
As you can tell from the picture above, there was nothing left on either tray when we were done. The food was exactly what we were looking for. If you’re wanting something interesting (buffalo, funky flavors, etc) you’re better off heading to Burger Up or another boutique burger place. But for a quick, delicious, perfectly American classic beef burger, you’ll be hard-pressed to find much better than Riff Burgers. They also have locations in Alabama, so check it out down there if you’re in the area.