Owned by the same team behind Mother City stalwarts Royale Eatery and El Burro, Junior Burger Bar is the new kid on the block with a big name to live up to. It’s even positioned right next door to El Burro’s baby sister, Taqueria.
But don’t look for a family resemblance. If we’re going to stretch this metaphor to its limit, Junior is something like the adopted son from the wrong side of the tracks: unpretentious, more budget-conscious than its siblings, and with a reformed fast food spirit that encourages you to rebel just a little from your healthy eating plan.
Junior is a takeout joint in the American tradition of In N Out or Five Guys. The abbreviated menu offers five burger options (no avo, bacon or biltong dust in sight), a short range of fries and sides, creamy shakes and doughnuts.
But here’s the difference: it may look like your regular, greasy takeout, but the food at Junior is, according to its owners, much lower in sugar, salt and preservatives. The patties are brought in fresh daily, and the springy buns and shoestring fries are baked and hand-cut respectively on site.
Taste-wise, they’re on point with the whole upgraded fast-food theme. Basically this feels like sinking your teeth into an above average Quarter Pounder, complete with crunchy gherkin, secret sauce and melty cheese. The fries are good, even without the lip-smacking flavour of a thousand unnamed chemicals, and my chocolate-peanut-butter shake was thick and ice-creamy (although not as good as the delicious concoctions over at Royale).
Red, white and blue is the palette here, with minimalist fittings in the way of tall stools and formica countertops that really drive home the takeout joint theme. You place your order and pay at the counter, then snag a seat and wait for your name to be called. Food is served on cafeteria trays, but the clever retro styling makes everything feel a cut above your local MacD’s.
I had a decent lunch at Junior Burger Bar. Was it any better than an actual takeout franchise? A little. But as much as I’d like to believe in guilt-free fast food, until I see some hard and fast nutritional info, I’m going to reserve judgement.
Where 12 Kloof Nek Road, Tamboerskloof
Trading hours Monday to Saturday noon till late
Cost Burgers start at R38, sides at R18 and milkshakes at R25
Contact +27 21 422 2968, Junior Burger Bar on Facebook
Photography Jade Taylor Cooke and Junior