Please welcome our newest contributor, Denise Sakaki! With Adam Lindsley's departure from Seattle, Denise is here to bring Seattle-area burger reviews, starting with these burgers in Bellevue. You can read more from Denise at her photo-filled food blog Wasabi Prime.

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Jalapeño burger with fries. [Photograph: Denise Sakaki]

Munchbar

505 Bellevue Square, Bellevue WA 98004 (map); 425-454-6862; munchgroup.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Comfort food classic burgers cooked to order, along with options for those who want a little spice
Want Fries with That? Burgers come with individual buckets of crispy fries, but consider getting separate sweet potato fries
Price: Burger w/fries, $12.95
Note: When the sun goes down, this spot takes on a nightclub atmosphere, but the daylight scares off the club-goers and the serious eating begins at lunch

They say a return to favorite simple comfort foods is a reaction to scary economic times, so it's no surprise that there are restaurants that specialize in just that. With a menu looking like the top ten midnight-hour food cravings, the snack-themed Munchbar pretty much has everything that anyone would want after a crummy day, a bad breakup, or a combination of the two.

While Munchbar's menu has ample comfort food offerings, their burgers are their specialty, namely their signature Munchburger: an over half-pound patty of 100 percent Certified Angus Beef, grilled to your preference, stacked with melted cheddar, a tangle of crispy fried onions, and shredded romaine, with tomato, pickles, and onion. They flavor the burger with a tart and creamy "fancy sauce"—basically a house-made fry sauce, similar to Thousand Island dressing. The bun is a soft brioche, lightly toasted. It's a large bun, but given its puffy, airy quality, it helps soak up the sauce and juices from the burger as you eat, and is a nice cushion against the ample-sized stack of meat and veggies piled within. (Note: Burgers doesn't come sliced in half, it was just bisected for the photo.)

They put a nice, crisp char on their burgers—you can see the grill marks on the patty—and if you ask for it cooked medium, the inside retains pinkness. The tender beef patty is adequately salted, smoky, and flavorful enough that you can still pick out the beef flavor amid all the different toppings. The texture of the fried onions is especially nice, but to really enjoy it, you have to eat the burger right when they bring it to you or the burger's heat will steam away the crispness.

I compared their signature burger with one of their other specialty burgers, the Jalapeño Burger, a popular choice with a Tex-Mex twist. The grilled beef patty and bun are prepared the same, topped with pepper jack cheese, crispy onions, and a pile of grilled jalapeño peppers. The spiciness is notable, but doesn't distract from the burger—still, if you're at all sensitive to spice, skip this one. A dollop of creamy guacamole helps cool the burger, but it still has a kick.

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The burgers all come with an individual silver pail of crisp hand-cut shoestring fries accompanied by a mini squeeze bottle of ketchup. They also make sweet potato fries, which pair well with the Jalapeño Burger's heat.

Since the burger is rather monster-sized and comes with fries, consider bringing a friend and splitting it to avoid sluggishly returning to work with the dreaded Food Coma Hangover.

About the author: Denise Sakaki is a freelance writer, photographer and designer, blogging and eating her way through as many adventures as her stomach can handle. When she's not exploring the world of hamburgers for AHT, she's thinking about what burger she wants to tackle next...

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