Spinn’s Burger & Beer
They spinn-ed me right ’round
I’ve vowed never to get fooled again by booze with a “Southwestern” angle. Case in point: I bought a bottle of DeKuyper’s “Cactus Juice” margarita schnapps a few years ago and poured myself a cheap plastic glassful. Despite the ice and several hours worth of chilling time it received, the liquor inside the cowgirl-festooned bottle tasted like I had just brushed my teeth then taken a bite of a lime, rind and all.
This stuff was the hot new drink at the time, but it was as useless going down as it was coming up. And we all remember the hurl-happy creation that was Tequiza. With this in mind, I took a peek at the 100-plus beer list at Spinn’s Burger & Beer, and when I came to the new Miller “Chill” imbued with lime and salt, I wisely remembered past mistakes and ordered the house “Spinn-a-rita” (frozen or on the rocks, $3.95) instead.
The drink was decent, maybe a bit tart. I could taste the alcohol, so that was encouraging. My server, Kimberley, was the perkiest and friendliest I’d had in quite a while, and I ordered an appetizer sampler plate ($7.95) and had a look around.
The interior was a slice of Texas in the ol’ Burque with red walls and iron stars. The mural against the side wall was done by local Karen Deaton and depicted a handful of old-school movie stars like Marilyn, John Wayne, James Dean and a lady that I thought might be Cher (pre-surgery).
I wandered up to the wood cabana-style bar and engaged the manager in a conversation about the new Miller. I asked him to tell me the honest truth: Was this beer any good? His answer was wisely noncommittal, and I made a couple of impolite comments about Tequiza that he agreed with.
I saw my sampler arrive at the table, so I scurried past the burger toppings bar to begin digging into the small silver bucket containing Corona beer-battered cheese sticks, mushrooms and onion rings, and cheddar-jalapeño poppers. For eight bucks, it seems like a bigger portion was in order: I received three cheese sticks, two poppers, six mushrooms and three onion rings. The poppers weren't anything special, but the other fried items were quite good. The onion rings were made with big, sweet onions, and the combination of strong beer flavor and melted cheese was fantastic.
For the main course, I ordered a 1/4-pound Spinn burger with cheese ($4.95), cooked medium rare. Server Kimberley didn’t even blink when I asked for raw meat, and I was exceedingly glad to get it, because most places won’t let you order burgers any way but well-done, which often translates to burnt-as-hell. I was told the fries were hand-cut, not your average pile of flash-frozen sticks.
I begged a bite of the “Brat-n-Stein” and house specialty jalapeño beans from another diner (I have no shame) and discovered that both were excellent. The brat was indeed steamed in beer, rich and plump, and served on a fat, chewy poppyseed bun. The beans were whole but cooked until creamy, and the hot pepper flavor radiated a respectable slow burn.
My burger’s arrival was perfectly timed and perfectly prepared with a beautiful pinky-red inside and a warm brown exterior. I took a bite before heading over to the fixin’s bar—even without appropriate accoutrements it was probably the best burger I’ve had on the Westside. I loaded it up with pickles and diced onion from the bar, taking note of ample offerings like tomato and jalapeño slices, lettuce, etc.
The fries were truly a joy. They were long, firm-but-pliable, peel-on and fried just long enough to have crispy brown ends.
The rest of the menu represented solid, Texas-inspired meat treats like chicken-fried steak, chicken strips with gravy, cornmeal-battered-catfish and char-grilled steaks. Desserts consisted of hand-scooped shakes, malts and sundaes (all made with Texas' Blue Bell ice cream) and a root beer float that I would have availed myself of had I not been past the point of stuffed.
This restaurant calls for a casual date or a family sit-down: The prices are more than reasonable for the first-rate food and service. The beer list rivals that of any Albuquerque pub (Westsiders need beer, too), and there's even a moderate wine list with a few cheap-but-tasty selections like Red Truck Merlot and Robert Pepi Pinot Grigio. I did see Texas chili on the menu (yep, it’s the kind with the kidney beans), but much like the six-pack of Tequiza I downed once, some things are better left alone.
The Alibi Recommends:
Corona-battered cheese sticks and onion rings
Spinn burger with cheese and extra pickles
Sides of jalapeño beans and fries, oh yeah!
Spinn’s Burger & Beer, 6001 Winter Haven NW (Coors and Montaño), 899-6180. Hours: Mon-Thu 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. noon-7:30 p.m. Price range: inexpensive. No smoking, credit cards accepted, booze.