Meat up

Colin Richards with a strawberry-Oreo shake and Scoopers’ signature Mighty Mike hot dog, named after his dad.

Colin Richards with a strawberry-Oreo shake and Scoopers’ signature Mighty Mike hot dog, named after his dad.

Photo/Allison Young

Scooper's is open Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A recent report by the World Health Organization has indicated processed meats like bacon and hot dogs—as well as red meat—are bad for your health. This bit of “news” generated much debate amongst pundits and social media mavens, but I doubt this declaration will dampen America’s appetite for burgers and bacon. In a fate-tempting coincidence, some family members and I visited the newly opened new location of Scooper’s restaurant on the same day the news broke. We’re thrill seekers that way.

Scooper’s original Sparks drive-in location has been a family favorite for decades, renowned for its award-winning milkshakes and made-to-order burgers. The new Reno location lacks the drive-in aspect, but there’s plenty of seating in its large dining room. The place filled up pretty quick during our dinner-hour visit, striking for a place that had opened just days earlier.

The menu includes a variety of burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, burritos and deep-fried sides. All burgers feature fresh ground beef, special sauce, tomato, pickles, chopped onion, and lettuce. Similarly the dogs are all-beef and come with a variety of toppings. But there is one item I knew I had to order, if only because the description sounded like something I’d eat on a dare.

The Mighty Mike ($5.19) is a quarter pound hotdog stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, and then in defiance of all that is healthy they deep-fry that nutritionist’s nightmare and serve it on a bun loaded with chopped onion, yellow mustard and mayonnaise. If you ate like this every day, I’m pretty sure the heart attack would get you before the cancer kicked in. Having said that, it was pretty freakin’ delicious. Even my health-conscious wife agreed it tastes far better than it sounds.

Moving over to the burger menu we sampled a Pastrami burger ($6.99), comprised of a quarter pound beef patty topped with a quarter pound pile of grilled pastrami and Swiss cheese. It was a little tricky to hang onto and almost juicy to a fault. The burger meat didn’t taste of any particular seasoning other than perhaps a little salt, but the pastrami was nice and lean and the overall sandwich was pretty satisfying.

The Matterhorn burger was less drippy but no less enjoyable ($6.99), sporting a half pound of beef topped with Swiss cheese and plenty of thick-cut bacon. Most bacon served on fast food burgers is shipped pre-cooked and sliced so thin there’s really no reason to bother with it. The bacon on this burger was probably the best I’ve tasted on a non-gourmet burger for under $10.

Fries ($2.29 lg), onion rings ($2.89 lg), and nacho chips with cheese ($2.49) were shared by all at the table. With these items the freshness aspect is lacking, as the rings, fries and chips clearly came from a bag and the nacho cheese from a can. I lost my taste for frozen, minced onion rings years ago after discovering fresh onions dunked in beer batter. Luckily, my six year-old niece was more than happy to take up the slack. I’m pretty sure she ate most of them.

Aside from fries and rings, the girl demonstrated there’s more than one way to eat a corn dog ($1.69). Rather than starting at one end like a banana, she attacks it right in the middle and continues as you might eat corn-on-the-cob. Like the other fried items this dog appeared to have come from the freezer, but the hungry kindergartner declared, “This place has really good food.”

But what about the award-winning shakes? They are indeed deserving of praise, featuring nearly 50 flavors including fruits, candies, and some that make my teeth hurt just thinking about them ($2.69 sm, $4.49 lg). My blackberry shake was thick and perfect without being too sweet, a perfect companion to our death-defying meal.