TOLEDO, WA: Mrs. Beasley's Burgers

I've driven past Mrs. Beasley's Burgers since first moving to Washington in 1983, but this weekend was the first time I pulled off I-5 and stopped in. I'm sorry I waited so long!

If you drive Interstate 5 between Seattle and Portland, you've likely noticed Mrs. Beasley's Burgers on the east side of the highway at Exit 59. It's a small stand that looks like it might be a candidate for Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

The reason I took so long to stop in is simply that it's in the wrong location - only about 1-1/2 hours south of my home. When I head south, I usually leave early in the morning, so it's nowhere near lunch time when I pass. And when I return, I'm usually hungry well before I get to Toledo.

So I've driven past frequently and usually wondered whether I was passing a not-so-hidden gem.

Last weekend, my wife and I were returning from visiting friends in central Oregon and, thanks to a leisurely start to our morning, the timing worked out for lunch at Mrs. Beasley's.

Dan and Dixie Beasley bought this roadside stand in 1976 and have developed a loyal following in the 35 years since. Biting into my deluxe cheeseburger, it was easy to see why.

Prepared to order, the burger was hot and dripping with juice. The bun, the lettuce and the tomato were fresh, and the pickles crisp. I had mine with the "relish" Mrs. Beasley offers as standard fare and thought it was a bit heavy on the mayo, but that's easily fixed. My bride eschewed the sauce in favor of simple ketchup and mustard and was quite pleased indeed.

We also ordered fries, which are the larger crinkle-cut variety. They too arrived hot but could have used a fair bit more salt. Again, easily fixed.

There is a modest seating area inside decorated with plants hanging from macrame pot hangers that may have been there since 1976, two-man saws possibly used nearby back in the day, and vinyl tableclothes. Kitschy? Obviously. Modest? Yes. But kept clean and presentable by the attentive staff.

My recommendation? If you're a fan of really good burgers, do yourself a favor and stop at Mrs. Beasley's next time you're passing through Toledo. You won't be disappointed!

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