Enjoy Naturally Raised, Locally Sourced Burgers & More at Tucson’s Diablo Burger

April 30, 2013

by Bree Collins


Photo by Melissa Dunstan courtesy of Diablo Burger.

Sounds of construction shake Downtown as final touches are put on Tucson’s version of Diablo Burger. The much-loved burger joint, hailing from Flagstaff and owned by Derrick Widmark, now belongs to Tucson. Diablo Burger is already in harmony with Downtown’s focus on community sustainability as the restaurant strives to source as many ingredients as it can within a 250-mile radius.

Tucson’s Diablo Burger won’t have quite the same menu as the Flagstaff mothership since they’ve made some unique local partnerships. Chiva Risa, a cheese-maker located in Hereford, will provide Diablo Burger with goat cheese and blue cheese. Sleeping Frog Farms from Cascabel and McClendon’s Select in Phoenix are growing the greens for their salads. More collaborations are on the way. The goal is to have long-term, mutually beneficial relationships and these take time, as Widmark would rather build good relationships slowly than rush them and get them wrong.

Widmark admits that the term ‘local’ is imperfect, but enjoys the debate it sparks as people explore the benefits and restrictions of sourcing food close to home. He believes the food paradigm is changing and is excited to be part of it. The cause is foundational for Diablo Burger and drives them to do their part supporting family farms and businesses.


Photo by Melissa Dunstan courtesy of Diablo Burger.

Diablo Burger’s food is super-fresh and made to order, with burgers crafted from open-range beef that are free of growth-hormone and antibiotics. Diablo Burger mixes business and pleasure with combos such as the Vitamin B, featuring bacon, beets and blue cheese, or the DB House, made with blackening spice, pesto and a fried egg. These burgers will leave you daydreaming between meals. You can make your own combo and add the fun stuff yourself, including southwestern favorites like chiles, guacamole, jalapenos, hatch chile mayo, and pico. Their Belgian-style fries arrive crispy and covered in Herbes de Provence. If you like rosemary, these are the fries for you.

Diablo Burger Tucson will continue to offer gluten-free options on their menu, including a gluten-free muffin in place of the usual burger bun that celiacs can sink their teeth into. Widmark has been “blown away” by the response and support from the gluten-free community and says it feels good. Vegetarians are also given a nod with a meat- and dairy-free burger that will take you to veggie heaven.

The restaurant will have table-service instead of counter-service and will seat up to 48 people.  While you enjoy your burger, you can relax at one of their communal tables with benches or at a window seat that looks out at Hotel Congress across the street. “Everyone knows Hotel Congress’ history, and it’s exciting to literally be across the street from a cultural landmark,” Widmark says. The table in the middle of the room seems to float in space while dangling from taut, sturdy wire and the wooden-top bar toward the back of the space will offer about 5 types of beer.

Picture 2

Photo by Melissa Dunstan courtesy of Diablo Burger.

The décor includes exposed ceilings with fun, visible duct-work that makes the place feel like an urban secret, and the contemporary colors make the place seem cozy and busy at the same time. A door leads to “the corridor” that connects Diablo Burger to friend Paul Moir’s corner restaurant, Proper. The aesthetics are meant to serve the function of interconnectivity, and windows have been placed in separating walls that allow one to wave hello to someone in Proper, just a couple spaces west. It’s a celebration of the spirit of Downtown and an homage to friendship.

When asked if it was a fortunate for the two restauranteurs to have their new businesses side-by-side, Widmark says can’t imagine he and Moir doing this without the other. “We’re the new guys in town.” He also feels lucky to be embraced by Downtown Tucson and is grateful for the support of local businesses such as Playground, Hotel Congress, 47 Scott, Sparkroot, Reilly’s, and Borderlands. Widmark says they have been generous and supportive to an amazing degree.

Diablo Burger will be opening this Saturday, May 4th, at 312 E Congress St. It’s not too early to get in line.