2013. In our continuing quest to rank the top burger places in Tucson, several of us went to Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar at Campbell & Skyline.
Yes, we were well aware of Fleming’s variable reputation. Some folks claim they serve the best steak in Tucson. Others say Fleming’s is over-priced and over-rated.
However, when my friend Tom heard I was on a mission to find the best burger in town, he suggested Fleming’s happy hour. Tom explained that during happy hour Fleming’s offers their $12 burger for only 6 bucks.
Except on Sundays, Fleming’s opens at 5 PM and we were right on time.
The hostess seated us in the bar area immediately and for the first few minutes ours was one of only 3 occupied tables. That changed quickly and by 5:15, the bar area was packed. Lesson learned: if you’re going for happy hour, go early. The $6 burger is served only in the bar area, and it’s obviously very popular.
My dining companions on this occasion were: Judy, my mother-in-law-visiting-from Oregon, Ms. Karen, Neighbor Roy, and Friend Tom. First, we ordered drinks. We all ordered a glass of wine, except Tom, who ordered a strange blue martini. Once the drinks were served, Ms. Karen ordered an appetizer: calamari.
We had all come to judge Fleming’s hamburger so we all ordered their Prime Burger with Wisconsin cheddar cheese and peppered bacon. It comes with fries but some of us ordered a side of onion rings to share. As their steaks are all USDA aged prime beef, I assume, but do not know for sure, that the meat patty in the Prime Burger is also from a prime cut.
Prime beef is almost twice as expensive as USDA choice. I have learned through trial & error that some choice cuts can be as tender and delicious as a prime cut and a lot less expensive. A few days earlier Judy & I had dined at Daisy Mae’s Steakhouse where she shared her Kansas City-style baby back ribs (the house specialty) and I shared my 9 oz filet.
The filet was so tender and incredibly tasty that I had to ask Dan, the manager, if it was “prime” or “choice”. Dan explained where they get their meats, how the meats are selected & prepared, but … no … my filet was UDSA choice Angus beef. Yet, judged on tenderness, texture, and taste, it was one of the very finest steaks I have ever enjoyed.
Except at happy hour, the Fleming’s Prime Burger is now $14. It used to be $12 but they recently raised their prices. Nevertheless, the happy hour Prime Burger was still only $6. It should have been one of Tucson’s best bargains. We could easily see why Fleming’s makes such a generous offer. In order to get the $6 burger, one has to order at least one drink. And the drinks are a tad pricy.
We all had the same thing to eat and we all came to the same conclusions. The onion rings were OK. The fries were terrible. The meat of the burger was very good, but the buns were stale. What’s up with that? Did the chef think we wouldn’t notice?
As Neighbor Roy & I have learned in recent weeks, if you want a very good burger AND outstanding fries, go to Monkey Burger downtown. And say “Hi” to Pete The Manager for us. Tell him we’ll be back.
Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
6360 N Campbell Avenue (Campbell & Skyline)