Here be good burgers

The Burger Dock brings its gourmet grill skills to downtown’s waterfront

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

Sailing through its first summer as a brick-and-mortar restaurant, The Burger Dock has established a nautical-themed niche at 116 N. First Ave. in downtown Sandpoint.

The Popper burger, with a cold IPA overlooking the Sandpoint Marina. Photo by Zach Hagadone.

The next evolution of the Old Tin Can food trailer, which started in 2014, the airy space features exposed wood beams, a paint scheme of robin’s egg-blue and turquoise, and enormous windows facing First Avenue and Bridge Street. A garage door opens onto a Sand Creek-facing patio, offering a laid-back ambiance tinged with the tantalizing scent of grilling burgers. Behind a counter faced with distressed wood and peeling paint, and sporting the stern piece of an old Chris Craft boat — complete with chrome logo — staff members hustle at the big grills, turning out boat-shaped wire baskets brimming with hand-pressed, gourmet burgers and crisp fries.

During a recent Tuesday lunch hour, we dropped anchor at The Burger Dock for an ultra-filling afternoon repast. 

The menu is a thoughtful blend of tastes, including standbys like the Old Tin Can cheeseburger and Bacon Cheese ($8 and $10, respectively) alongside more exotic offerings such as The Popper — a burger featuring pepper jack cheese, Wood’s bacon strips, slices of jalapeno, iceberg lettuce, tomato, grilled sweet onions, jalapeno cream cheese and apricot jam for $10.50 — The Sticky Burger, which brings together cheddar cheese, bacon and peanut butter ($9.50); and The Bee, with brie, a drizzle of local honey, arugula and honey aioli ($10). 

Vegan and veggie burgers are also available; the former with grilled portobello mushroom, sliced tomato, spring mix, grilled sweet onions and a vegan-friendly secret sauce for $10 and the latter sporting a house-made patty of quinoa, zucchini, carrot and seeds topped with sliced tomato, spring mix, grilled sweet onions and a secret sauce ($9.50). A handful of salads in the $10-$12 range round out the main dishes and they look delicious but, let’s be honest, it’s called The Burger Dock for a reason.

We went with The Vegan Burger and fries, The Popper and, because we had a couple of kids in tow, the Junior Burger and fries from the childrens’ menu. A Montucky Cold Snack can ($2), Ten Pin Hazy IPA on draft ($5) and vanilla milkshake ($6.50) to wash it all down, we dug in. (Total price plus tip: $52.30. Not cheap, but you get what you pay for in fresh, hand-crafted goodness.)

To start, the fries were thin-cut, light and crispy, seasoned to perfection and with just the kind of earthy undertone any true Idahoan expects from an authentic strip of deep-fried spud. The tangy mustard-esque dipping sauce was a superb accompaniment.  

The Vegan Burger was more than ample, with a righteously large, expertly grilled portobello mushroom that both stayed firm and avoided the greasiness that sometimes plagues this variety of fungi when thrown on the grill. The sweet onions came off more sauteed than grilled, but that was counterbalanced by the shock of mixed greens that were clearly fresh as fresh could be.  

The Popper Burger was downright intimidating. The juicy, hand-pressed patty came piled high with thick bacon and a crisp mound — almost too large — of iceberg lettuce. Napkins are definitely required with this monster and be prepared to reconstruct the burger at least once before finishing. 

The pleasant charring of the patty mingled with the smoky zest of the bacon, which, layered with the fresh crunch of lettuce, evoked the taste and feel of an entire barbecue in one bite. The zing of jalapeno and sweet undertones of apricot were an unexpectedly complex treat. 

The Junior Burger, cut in half, was plenty for a 7-year-old and 4-and-a-half-year-old. Their discriminating palates singled out the pickle for especial praise.

“I loveded the pickle,” raved the youngest.

Big brother concurred, but saved his biggest accolade for the vanilla milkshake — thick but not too thick, rich and easily consumed via straw, stacked with a generous dollop of whipped cream and topped with a brilliant red cherry.

“It’s the best one I ever had,” he said.

The Burger Dock offers a healthy variety of beverages: four beers on tap; 15 import, domestic, local and big-name beers and ciders in bottles and cans; nine types of canned cocktails from 10 Barrel, Cutwater and Seekout; two red and two white wines; and a cold case full of Coke products. Save 20% on bottles and cans to-go in six-packs — a big draw for those who boat up to the boardwalk on Sand Creek where, once moored, The Burger Dock will also deliver food.

Here’s the shipping news: The Burger Dock is a friendly port for anyone looking to chow down on a truly artisanal burger in a space that somehow simply feels like summer.

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