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Niskers Char-Broiled Foods – Portage

February 24, 2010

  • 6384 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49002
  • (269) 327-4633
  • Website
  • Menu

Today was an exciting day for me.  I finally bought new socks.  Sounds stupid, I know, but I was really getting tired of the holes and stretched out elastic on my old ones.  When J got off work at noon, we headed to Target.

When we left, J said she was hungry and asked if there was any place quick to eat.  I thought of Niskers Char-Broiled Foods.  Not long ago, Kalamazoo Cheap Eats asked a question on Twitter about Kalamazoo’s best burger.  I like to think of myself as a burger guru and I didn’t have an answer for her.  I’ve eaten a lot of burgers since moving to Kalamazoo and not one of them stands out as Kalamazoo’s best burger.  One of J’s co-workers chimed in with Niskers, so I thought we’d give it a shot to see how it stacks up.

Niskers Char-Broiled Foods has two Kalamazoo locations.  One is on Riverview Drive.  The other is in Portage.  Since we were in Portage we hit that one.  The address is South Westnedge, but the store front is actually on Milham.  It’s part of the Crossroads Galleria.

The store is set up sort of like a fast food joint.  There is an order counter in the front of the store with the menu board above it.  You order your sandwich, sides, drinks, etc at this point, but you don’t customize the burger until after you pay.  Right next to the cash register is an area that sort of resembles a sub shop.  They have condiments spread out in to little trays.  While the meat is cooking, an employee pulls out a bun, puts it on wax paper then they load up bun with condiments, cheese, and veggies.  After taking care of that step, you sit down and wait for your name to be called. 

The dining area is pretty generic.  There is a row of booths and then a row of tables.  The cool feature is the lunch counter along the windows.  It’s a very urban feature that unfortunately faces you towards a parking lot, but still a neat idea none the less

I started off the ordering by picking the “Babs” which is a 1/3 Sirloin Steakburger.  The burger patties are prepared daily and never frozen which is a good start.  They’re put on a grill and cooked to order.  I got my burger with BBQ sauce, jalapeño peppers and cheddar cheese.  It was interesting to me that cheese was not put on the the burger on the grill.  Instead, they put shredded cheese on the bottom part of the bun and put the cooked burger on top of it.  The first thing I noticed was the char-grilled taste.  That’s the thing that really makes Niskers stand out.  While my burger was good, it was cooked to a well-done state which takes a lot of the flavor out.  The sandwich was good, but there was maybe a little bit too much bun.  The burger didn’t seem to fit very well.  I like to see the burger hanging off the end and that didn’t happen.  Still, the burger tasted like it came off my Weber which is always a good thing.

J ordered Char-Chick Original.  Her sandwich was two thin chicken breasts that had been marinated and grilled.  She added lettuce and cheddar cheese to her sandwich and loved every bite of it.  From the time she unwrapped the wax paper it comes served in she could smell grill.  She actually said this sandwich is “craveable.”  Usually she tears off part of her sandwich for me to try.  This time, she offered, but didn’t force me to take a piece.  That says a lot.  She didn’t want to give any of it up.

We both got fries and they were delicious too.  They’re fresh-cut curly fries that are really heavy on the grease.  That sounds bad, but it really is my favorite way to eat fries.  It’s a “sometimes food”….right Cookie Monster?  When it is one of those sometimes, it’s totally worth it.

We live in a second story apartment now, so grilling isn’t really an option.  Niskers gives us an option for actual grilled food.  Best burger?  Eh.  It was alright, but still not that memorable burger that I won’t soon forget.  J’s sandwich, on the other hand, sounded to me like it was one of those sandwiches.  For fifteen bucks, we both left full and with a little sense of spring.  It may be snowing, but just tasting the charcoal made us look forward to summer.

The "Babs" with BBQ Sauce, Jalapenos, & Cheddar Cheese

Char-Chick w/Lettuce & Cheddar Cheese

Fresh Made Curly Fries

Niskers Char Broiled Foods on Urbanspoon

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