Timbuktu offers comfort in burger form

06/28/2012 5:00 AM

06/28/2012 3:10 PM

Sometimes you just need a good cheeseburger and beer to reaffirm that all is still well and good in the world.

Luckily, you needn’t travel far to find such a place. Just head out to Andover, where you will find Timbuktu Bar and Grill, a small-town institution since 1982 that’s known for its burgers and friendly atmosphere.

Taking advantage of the temperate weather on the evening of our visit, we bypassed the dim indoor dining area and went straight to the back patio. Complete with tiki hut, a play area for kids/inebriated adults, safari-themed wall murals, and plenty of seating, this patio is a sight to see.

The small menu consists of your typical bar food selections. Appetizers include nachos, corn fitters, stuffed jalapenos, fried mushrooms and chicken wings. Several sandwiches are also offered, including grilled cheese, chicken fried steak and pork fritter. The main attraction at Timbuktu is the half-pound burger, or for those with something to prove, the double one-pounder. The bar menu is limited to a handful of tap beers and a few canned selections, but they are served in throwback frosty mason jars.

On our visit, we ordered a cheeseburger and pork fitter sandwich. All sandwiches come with chips, but an upgrade to onion rings or curly fires is strongly recommended as both were quite good. The pork fritter sandwich consists of a generous fried cutlet of pork loin, raw onions and pickles. I substituted fried onions for the raw and applied ketchup and mustard. The sandwich turned out to be pretty good. I was happily surprised that the pork remained moist and tender despite its exterior crispiness. My wife ordered the famed burger with fried onions and cheese. It was nice to see that the beef patty was hand-formed and thick. While the burger was a touch overdone, the fried onions and cheese helped make it satisfying. It was not the best burger either of us has had, but we would definitely order it again.

Simplicity is the key at Timbuktu, and after 30 years in business, it continues to make it work. With daily drink specials, occasional live music and a weekly biker night, there is something for everyone at Timbuktu.

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