Melios Brothers' Char Bar
2026 Greenville Ave
Dude Factor: 8, or Super Mario Brothers on a scale of 1 (George and Jeb Bush) to 10 (Frank and Jesse James)
Regretfully, I had to knock a point off this joint right from the start for the misleading name. I was finally getting my appetite back following a bout with the flu and wanted nothing more than a burger and a beer. Surely a place that calls itself Char Bar would be the ideal place to find both, right?
Wrong. The "bar" in the restaurant's name must refer to the salad bar. But it was too late to back out. By the time the owner answered "no" to the beer question--for what must have been the millionth time since the place opened decades ago--I'd already caught a whiff of seared beef. Dr Pepper would have to pinch hit for my beloved brew.
But they got the char part right. The menu descriptions leave a lot to the imagination, though, as did the Greek gentleman behind the counter--presumably one of the Brothers Melios. A sandwich that fell in the proper pre-payday budget had a description so vague yet so right--something like "Meat Sandwich"--that I asked about it. "It has meat that is chopped," he said with a shrug.
A hard sales pitch--straight and fast, but not enough to sway me from my burger quest. I ordered one with special sauce. For all I knew, the special sauce could have been mayonnaise left out in the sun, but what the hell.
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The place is a short-order counter service diner, but--special sauce aside--this is not a fast-food joint. That means no free drink refills. Not wanting to shell out for a refill, I took conservative sips of my soda. Gotta save some cash for a beer later, you know. Oh, well. They have plenty of dude-friendly steak options: ribeyes, T-bones and chicken-frieds--and not your white collar, loaned Beemer, rot in a cubicle the rest of your adult life prime beef, either, but $12 hunks of basic red meat with baked potatoes.
The burger was slathered not in rancid salad dressing, but with that familiar salmon-hued Big Mac-style sauce. From first bite to last, it tasted like an American sandwich. The tomato, lettuce and onion were fresh, the bun was toasty and the meat was juicy. The thick-cut fries were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and mouth-blisteringly hot.
The kind of injury you can only cure with a beer.
Oh, well. When my money clip's a little fatter I'll be back for one of those T-bones. Maybe I'll even splurge for a Dr Pepper refill or two.