Hidden in the back of the Sentry Station parking lot in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., Mike's Pizza and Burgers might be easy to miss. The outside looks like any basic strip mall restaurant, but the website states they use artisan buns for their burgers and New York-style handmade dough for their pizza.
Lionel and I, still fairly new to the area, were out on a typical Saturday drive, hunting for obscure VHS tapes at garage sales and thrift stores. Pizza sounded good, so we headed right in.
The atmosphere was somewhere between CiCi's and Buffalo Wild Wings. Most of the tables had families with children. A couple arcade cabinets stood in the corner, but the kids were probably too young to know what they were. I was surprised Lionel didn't head straight to them. He must have been hungry.
We seated ourselves in a booth toward the back of the room, taking in the place - cement floors, open kitchen, a few TVs on sports channels. Both the customers and staff were dressed casually. Our waitress, who came right over to get our drink orders, wore jeans and a pullover.
The digital juke box by the doors played a loud mix of rhythm and blues and classic rock, but otherwise it was quiet. There seemed to be almost as many servers and cooks as there were guests - a worrisome sign at lunchtime.
The waitress was fast and friendly, offering advice on what to order and regularly refilling our drinks. We skipped the overpriced wings ($9.99) and Italian egg rolls ($6.99) and went straight for the items they advertised. I built my own 12” pizza ($11.00 + $1.00-1.75 per topping). Lionel ordered a bacon swiss burger ($7.49).
“It doesn't come with a side,” he realized, surprised.
Begrudingly, he added on fries ($1.99).
The wait wasn't too long, just enough time to argue about whether Star Wars was sci-fi or fantasy and whose turn it was to feed the cats when we got home.
When the food came out it was hot and smelled great, but perhaps searching through all those moldy cardboard boxes for forgotten copies of The Ice Pirates and Critters 2: The Main Course had ruined our senses. The pizza tasted cheap, with rubbery cheese and sauce that could have come from a can. It would be worse later that night, when I reheated the leftovers.
Lionel's burger wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either - definitely not up to par with other burgers we've tried in town: Sofa King, Cheeburger Cheeburger, or even Five Guys. The artisan bun was too small for the meat.
The fries, however - the ones that cost extra to add to the meal - were some of the best shoestring fries we've had in years.
At the last yard sale that morning, we'd found a real honey pot. The elderly couple had three plastic tubs of never-to-be-released-on-DVD tapes from the 80s. To celebrate our find, we decided to splurge on dessert.
The waitress told us that the most popular item on the menu was a brownie ice cream sandwich, so a brownie ice cream sandwich we got ($3.00). The presentation was nice and the brownie was thick and rich, with big chunks of chocolate. Lionel said he wished it was warm, but I'm a sucker for brownies and it was good enough for me. Though I would have preferred the real thing, I could even forgive the frozen dairy dessert.
After scooping up the last spoonful of syrup, I sat back satisfied. “I feel bad about our life choices. We're eating salad for dinner.”
“I'm eating a celery stick,” said Lionel.
Location: 2535 Battlefield Pkwy, Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., 30742
Hours: M-Th 11 am – 9 pm
F-Sat 11 am – 10 pm
Sun 12 pm – 9 pm