CHARLESTON - There's no shortage of great burgers in the Tri-State, but one Charleston pub offers one that's truly gonzo.
Opening in February 2018, the small pub called Gonzoburger prides itself on serving burgers with top-notch ingredients and a variety of toppings. It is owned by Frank Gonzales, who runs the restaurant with his wife, Julia, as well as general manager David Haden Jr. and executive chef Tim Thorpe.
For the past seven years, Frank Gonzales has run the Mexican restaurant Mi Cocina De Amor in Charleston, which is currently preparing to open a new outdoor dining area later this fall with a Margarita Garden.
"We were looking for our next project, and I actually had a different idea in mind with a smaller more intimate concept, but the space I was looking at wasn't going to become available," Gonzales said. "This space had been in business in one form or another for over 50 years. The previous business here was Chris' Hotdogs, which was here for a very long time. I have heard thousands of stories from people who spent their youth in this building. A friend from Charleston Main Street approached us about doing something with this building, and we really fell in love with this space."
Gonzales said it was in disrepair and took 13 months to renovate.
"We tore the front of the building out and built a new facade," he said. "We also tore the back of the building off and put a whole new kitchen in the back. We used the space where the old kitchen was to put in two bathrooms and a server station. We retained the original floor, booths, railing, lights and ceiling. The bar actually dates back to the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, then it later moved to a place called Scott's Drugstore in Charleston. It ultimately came to a confectionery fine dining restaurant called the Sadd Brothers and then came in Chris' Hotdogs."
The restaurant offers a variety of hamburgers with with unique toppings. One of the signature burgers is the Desperado ($11) topped with applewood smoked bacon, onion rings, sliced jalapenos and barbecue sauce. There's also a Greek burger called Frat Boy ($12), which has tomato, lettuce, red onion, tzatziki and feta cheese. If you want something spicy, there's the El Fuego ($12) topped with Anaheim green chiles, jalapenos, roasted red peppers, lettuce, pepperjack cheese and a sweet habanero sauce.
The biggest burger, however is El Jefe, which has two quarter-pound beef patties, four slices of applewood smoked bacon, tomato, onion, pickles, lettuce, a special gonzo sauce and three types of cheese.
"Every item on the menu were items Julia and I created based on what we thought were the right kind of items for the demographics of the area," Gonzales said. "There's a lot of things in here which include southwest stuff because I'm from Arizona. We use guacamole from my other restaurant for one of my sandwiches. It's a simple menu, and it's all about better ingredients. We have our meat ground every day from Buzz Food Services. There's a company called Kristi Anne's bakery which makes our bread every day." Gonzales said.
The signature burger is the Gonzo Burger, a 7-ounce patty, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pickles, gonzo sauce and cheddar cheese on a brioche bun.
"I had to have a Patty Melt on there," Gonzales said. "That was my father's favorite hamburger. We had our own bread mold made for the marble rye we use. Our baker actually found some pipes that were of a perfectly round circumference to make the bread for that."
In addition to burgers, the menu offers a chicken sandwich called the G-Bird and Caesar and baby spinach salads. Appetizers include beer-battered onion rings, fried pickles and Blue Shroom Fries topped with sauteed onions, mushrooms and a bleu cheese fondue. There is a full bar where customers can also enjoy a number of regional craft beers, including Big Timber and Country Boy Brewing.
Gonzoburger is located at 207 West Washington St., in Charleston. It is open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Friday, and from noon until 10 p.m. on Saturday. It is closed on Sundays. Cash and all major credit cards are accepted. Delivery is available via Charleston2go.com. For carry-out order or more information call 833-464-6696. Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gonzoburgercwv/. For a full menu, visit https://gonzoburger.com/.
TYPE OF FOOD: American pub and grille
ADDRESS: 207 West Washington St., Charleston
HOURS: 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Friday, and from noon until 10 p.m. on Saturday. It is closed Sundays.
PAYMENTS ACCEPTED: Cash and all major credit/debit cards