YORK – After a week of fine holiday dining, it was time to get back to what I love best: Burgers.
I planned my workday around a lunch stop at the Fat Tomato Grill, a cafe with a cheery street-front presence in the heart of York Village. My significant other works in a nearby dental office and suggested we meet there for lunch. I knew we chose well when, without prompting, her boss mentioned that he has long admired the aroma of burgers cooking on the Fat Tomato grill wafting across the village.
A sign out front proclaiming “We have comfort food” immediately grabbed my attention. On the inside, the cafe is friendly. The large menu board above the counter impressed me with its neat handwriting and orderly arrangement, and the overall vibe felt inviting. In addition to preparing its own food, the Fat Tomato also stocks locally made baked goods, hot sauces and the like.
One wall of the small dining area includes photos of famous local, regional and national eating establishments, which felt like a nice gesture given that some of them could be construed as competition. But the message it sent was direct: We’re serious about food here, and we celebrate great food from all over.
My companion ordered the grilled chicken parm on ciabatta ($9), and I ordered the All American Burger, with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion and American cheese on a bun ($8). We split an order of fries ($3.50).
We ordered at the counter, and our food was brought to our table in paper-lined plastic baskets about 10 minutes later.
I loved my burger. I ordered it medium, and it was still juicy and slightly pink. Perfect. The patty was generous in size and adorned with a thick tomato slice, a few pickles, lettuce and diced onions. I would have preferred a slice or two of red onion, but no matter. It was mostly what I had craved.
Vicki’s chicken parm was monstrous. She liked it, but didn’t love it. The chicken breast was a bit thick and chewy, though the marinara sauce had a nice kick to it. She ate half, and kept the other half for next day’s lunch.
The fries were a little greasy, but cooked through and piping hot. Given that we ordered fries, the bag of chips that came with each sandwich seemed redundant. We didn’t open either bag.
The menu is fairly extensive. In addition to daily specials and soups, fare includes Roger’s Thanksgiving Sandwich, with turkey, stuffing, cranberry and gravy on sourdough. Had I not maxed out on turkey over the past month or so, that might have been my first choice. I also was tempted by the salami and ham Italian, with imported meats. For meatless eaters, there’s eggplant parm, a harvest burger and veggie sandwich.
The Fat Tomato also specializes in a variety of chicken sandwiches and hot dogs. I generally do not order hot dogs when eating out (unless it’s a food truck that serves them steamed) but was intrigued by the seven dog choices. My menu favorite was the Texas Burrito Dog, with chili, cheddar, onions, mustard and tortilla strips.
There also are many salad choices and interesting appetizers, like the mac-and-cheese fonduta fritters, stuffed arepas, fried green beans and ricotta-stuffed sweet potato tots.
Clearly, I need to go back – and soon.
FAT TOMATO GRILL
WHERE: 241 York St., York; 363-5333; fattomatogrill.com
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Friday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: 10 minutes
PARKING: There are a few parking spots in front of the cafe, but it’s mostly street parking.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes