The Chuck Box (Tempe, AZ)

Well, The Burger Project continues, this time with a visit to an old favorite. We all have our favorite burger haunts, and the Chuck Box is a favorite of mine, especially since it was one of the first, well, dives I ever went to for a burger.

I’m sure that when it was built (which I don’t know when that was, the Box was a veteran burger joint when our family moved to Arizona in the early 80s), it was on the north side of Arizona State University, but as ASU has grown, it’s probably more accurate to say that it’s now kind of in the middle of ASU.

In any case, the Chuck Box is basically a burger shack, emphasis on the shack. It’s old gnarled wood, and it sports a definite sloppiness in construction that’s the hallmark of a “shack”. Actually, sometime in the 80s I remember the place had a bit of a makeover, in which they added some windows (greatly increasing the light level), added some ventilation (greatly reducing the smoke level from the grill), and removed a lot of the accumulated crap on the walls and ceiling. I think I liked it better before, but I’m not a building code enforcer, either.

But, even though the random mementos on the wall are interesting (including such oddities as a picture of Ronald McDonald signed “Even Ronald likes to go to the Box!”), the real features of the Chuck Box are the several foot long charcoal grill, several Frialators, and a big giant condiment bar (that says “Have it your way… but play fair!”). Basically, it’s all about having a grilled sandwich, with the main features being the “Big One” 1/3 lb burger, and the “Great Big One” 1/2 lb burger. They also have a variety of grilled chicken sandwiches and the like. All the burgers are available on white or wheat buns, with several cheeses (including pepper jack), bacon, or even fried peppers.

Finally, you can round out your burger with the free condiments bar. Nothing terribly elaborate here, but it’s got a decent array of your basic burger toppings (onions, pickles, pickled jalapenos, mustard, etc).


1. This is a seriously good charbroiled burger done right. I opted for my normal, a Big One with swiss and grilled peppers, with a bunch of onions, mustard, and jalapeno piled on.

2. Free well-stocked condiment bars should be the norm at any burger joint…

3. The fries (a.k.a. Chuckbox Potatoes) are quite good here, with a nice crunchy exterior and a mashed-potato-like interior. Seriously, I like the fries here.


1. Being in the middle of ASU, parking can be an issue, and on occasion, it’s pretty crowded.

2. If it’s not sunny out, this place can be danker than Moe’s Tavern.

All-in-all, I was glad to see that one of my favorite burgers for over 20 years is still a solidly dependable burger.

3 Responses

  1. Emily 19 Oct 2007 at 01:31 #

    I don’t think I ever really noticed this place in the two years I was there. It’s too bad. I ate at the sub place in the newish complex on College, but I probably didn’t venture close enough to Forest Ave on foot to notice it. I’m sure I drove by it dozens of times, though.

    You’re right about parking over there. Steve can attest to a time when we tried to go to the sub place on the day of a football game. If I remember correctly, there was also a show at Gammage that was claiming a lot of space in the lots. (I refused to pay for parking.) After driving around for probably an hour, we ended up eating at Applebee’s. It was highly disappointing.

  2. Jason 02 Dec 2007 at 01:06 #

    Chuck Box is one of the best charbroil joints in Phoenix. I especially like the atmosphere–if you sit outside you get a tree stump instead of a chair. How can you beat that?

  3. Umbrella 01 Jul 2009 at 16:36 #

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. I decided to leave a comment on one of the few places on your list I've been to, even though this post is ancient in blog years.

    When I was going to ASU, this was one of my favorite places to go to. Cheap, but good burgers, and beer. What more could a college student want? I took my kids there sometime last year, and it was as good as I remembered it.

    And one time I got drunk with one of my professors there after class. Good times!

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