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Now open: LBOE and Memphis Made Taproom

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At Last Burger on Earth (LBOE), you can't order dessert. The reason is simple: They don't have any. And if you want a vegetable — fugheddaboudit. There's a lonely looking salad at the bottom of the menu, a spinach-and-tomato affair that might as well be called "The Afterthought."

But let's be honest. You didn't come here to eat a vegetable.

What LBOE has is burgers. Ten of them. They aren't healthy, and apart from the Classic ($7.95), you can't really pick them up with your hands. But if you can come to grips with using a knife and fork, then you'll find out why LBOE is worth a trip. These burgers — they're fiendishly tasty.

JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

Take their signature, the LBOE (pronounced "elbow," $9.95). Just the ingredient list is enough to inspire a mild heart attack in your faithful food columnist: Havarti cheese, roasted garlic cream cheese, hardwood-smoked bacon, green chilies, and corn chips.

Um, excuse me? Green chilies? Corn chips? But take the plunge, dear reader, and soon you'll be asking yourself why you haven't been putting chips on your burgers all along. The chips lend a salty crunch to the meat, one that is beautifully balanced by the citrusy acidity of the peppers. Try all you want: you won't take home any leftovers.

"The name is like a last meal kind of thing," says co-founder Tyler Adams. "Like if you're gonna have your last burger, we hope you do it here."

Of course, toppings are important, but they're no good without quality meat. For that reason, LBOE sources all its ground beef at Charlie's Meat Market on Summer, which grinds its meat fresh five days a week. From there, they add a top-secret mix of seasonings (I thought I detected smoked paprika) and cook the burgers on a flat-top griddle.

"The reason is they get to simmer in their own juices," says Adams, "so it makes the burgers juicier."

He ain't just whistling Dixie.

There are a few conservative choices on the menu. Think bacon, cheese, pickles. But I recommend an adventure. Try the Walking in Memphis (kielbasa, pulled pork) or the Lava Me (sriracha cream cheese, Nikki's Hot Ass Chips). And remember the words of Machiavelli: "Never was anything great achieved without danger."

Take a stroll around the new Memphis Made Tap Room, and you might suspect that the place wasn't built for beer. Well, you'd be right. The cavernous space — big enough to house a couple of movie theaters — was formerly a drive-in freezer for the now-defunct Keathley Pie Company, piled high with hundreds of thousands of single-serve pecan pies.

These days, the space is home to the sudsy ambitions of Memphis Made Brewing Co., whose tap room opened to the public on Friday, November 21st. And you know what? For a former drive-in freezer, they've made it pretty homey, complete with expanded bathrooms, custom metal furniture, and a gracious wood bar by craftsman Galen Woods.

"It's like the Death Star in Return of the Jedi," muses Memphis Made co-founder Andy Ashby. "We're not quite completed yet, but we're getting there."

Memphis Made is known for its Lucid Kolsch ($6): a crisp, golden ale that is produced year-round. But in colder weather, it's their seasonal offerings that really shine. Case in point: Fireside Ninja ($6). An American amber ale, it is deliciously malty, with notes of caramel and chocolate — just the thing to warm up with on a chilly fall night.

"I envision a ninja in a silk smoking jacket," says co-founder Drew Barton, "lounging on a bearskin rug with a glass of cognac — in front of a roaring fire.

"We were definitely drinking when we came up with that," he adds.

At first, the tap room will be open just one night per week: Fridays from 4 to 9 p.m. Ashby and Barton say they will expand as business allows. Food will be provided by Hot Mess Burritos food truck, as well as Aldo's Pizza Pies, which will open a new location across the street in early 2015.

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