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Phil’s Sliders

Phil’s Sliders is a new burger place that opened last year here in Berkeley on Shattuck between Addison and University – two doors down from the Half Price Books. It’s a smallish spot, some would call cozy, with a community chalkboard covering the bottom half of the left wall and a bare brick wall on the right. Seats about 30.

It’s a simple menu – beef sliders ($2), portabello mushroom sliders ($2), potato tots ($2.50), poppyseed cole slaw ($2). Shakes for $2.50, drinks for $2. There’s a rotating desert selection and a s’mores bar ($2). Simple menu, but the execution of that menu is excellent.

It’s quite a good slider – beef is grass-fed (Marin Sun), so not as juicy as grain-fed, but they cook to medium-rare to help offset that. Great flavor with cheddar, sesame seed bun, and secret sauce (thousand island + chopped pickles). Two is a good number for an average eater, three if you’re hungier. You can add portabella mushroom for $1, and bacon for $0.50. I do wish they’d toast the buns. For the vegans out there, the portabella slider is quite tasty as well.

The homemade tater tots are great. Squared-off oblongs of shredded potato, nice and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, with just right amount of salt. Lovely with ketchup. The poppyseed cole slaw is a nice accompaniment, adding freshness to the meal, though the poppyseed reminds me of the sad salads that United Airlines serves on its flights. But that’s no reflection on the slaw itself. The slaw comes in a good sized portion – I’d recommend splitting an order with a friend.

Small selection of drinks, with very few sugar-free options. None of your standard soda options. I haven’t tried the shakes yet, but I’ve tried the iced tea and the homemade ginger ale. The iced tea is nothing to write home about. The ginger ale is OK – has good ginger flavor, but lacks depth. Both come in pretty small glasses and are way-overpriced at $2. I would like to see either cheaper pricing or at the very least a free refill policy.

Service is fine – you order and pick up at the counter, but both times I’ve been someone has checked in with me during my meal to make sure everything is OK, which is a nice touch. The first time, it was the owner himself, Hugh Groman. Seating-wise, I dislike the high tables and chairs – once I climb into the chair I find it difficult to pull up to the table. Otherwise, it’s a nice, well-lit space with a high ceiling.

A meal here is a little on the pricey side for the amount of food you get, but the ingredients are of high-quality – all organic – and the downtown Berkeley location probably doesn’t help either. My meal for two (4 sliders, 2 tots, cole slaw, 2 drinks) came to $19. With the $18 for $9 Yelp deal that they had when they opened, this works out to be a great deal.

As I mentioned, I’ve been to Phil’s twice, once in September last year and once recently. Food and service quality was the same both times.

I’m definitely headed back to Phil’s in the future.


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