Like most college cities, the mascot can penetrate almost every aspect of life. As we rolled into Hays, Kansas, we expected to see the gratuitous display of Tiger memorabilia. After all, Fort Hays State University has used the tiger mascot since 1914. We always welcome this deep-seated local love and embrace the pride that each community has in its history. Discovering a restaurant that was founded by two local investors was just an added bonus. Since the lunch hour had passed us by, we knew a good meal was needed to rescue us from our ravenous hunger. Time to check out Tiger Burgers.
Flip the Script at Tiger Burgers
We seem to be finding more and more filling stations turned restaurants during our travels. This was first noticed in our hometown at the nationally-famous Joe’s KC BBQ. As we began exploring Route 66, we located additional “fueling stations”. It is always fun to see how each destination has been reimagined and transformed. At Tiger Burgers, they kept the gas station concept in play and many of the artifacts pay homage to the origin of the building.
The day before this we had been hiking at Monument Rocks in upper 80s temperature weather. Over the night, an early cold snap had moved through and brought a reminder of what was to come in a few short months. Driving to Hays, the temps had dropped to the mid-40s and light rain was falling. Not to be swayed in our research, we bundled up and persevered. Of course, we are smart enough to come in out of the rain, once Crystal was finished retrieving a bouncy ball from the oversized gumball machine in front of the restaurant. Once we passed through the door, we were welcomed by a cozy dining area that included a floor made of thousands of coins. The creators had even incorporated some insignias in their designs.
Tiger Burgers Local Love
Looking around, we found that the owners embraced the origins of the building and even have a wall dedicated to showing it in its past glory. All around, we spotted various memorabilia that connects to Hays and the state of Kansas. The local university is certainly front and center, as their mascot is the tigers after all. There are interesting placards on the garage doors that tell stories about some of the local historical icons and landmarks. It makes for some interesting short story reading, while you are waiting for your food to be prepared.
From the Land of Oz
Speaking of food, the menu even plays up the connection with Kansas, the Land of Oz. Their specialty sandwiches are named after characters from the story. Crystal decided to sample the Dorothy Melt, which begins with a 1/4 or 1/2 lb. patty. Topped with smashed onions, along with American and Swiss cheeses, this is all sandwiched between slices of their artisan bread. Being much less of a fan of cooked onions, I decided to take her word for the tastiness of her burger. It paired well with the shoe-string fries that offer a crispy bite as a side dish.
Flavor of the Month
I was waffling between options when I spotted their “Burger of the Month”. I asked the staff about it, and they said that it is a rotating choice that always brings something unique to the forefront. During our time in Hays, the special was the Pepperoni Pressed Burger. This 1/4 or 1/2 lb. monstrosity (I chose 1.4 lb.) is loaded with Mozzarella sticks, Provolone cheese, marinara and sandwiched in a pretzel bun. To say that it brings interesting flavor is an understatement. It was kind of like wrapping up a pizza inside of a burger. A taste combination that had me chowing down with complete satisfaction. What’s the most interesting burger you have eaten?