In my last review, I declared the burger at Pizza Rock the best in the downtown area, although I had not yet eaten all of them in the vicinity. I’ve eaten almost all of the notable burgers along Fremont St and the surrounding areas, but haven’t yet made my way over to MTO Café until now. MTO is a newer restaurant serving an area of downtown that doesn’t have much of a selection. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this place both online and through some fans, so was this an unfair, premature statement?
The restaurant is located at the entry of a parking garage on Main St across from the new city hall building. They have a few tables outside if the weather is nice, but unless you can ignore the constant beeping of the walk signals the entire time you eat, I don’t know if you should sit out there. The inside is a fairly loud, bustling space during lunch with lots of chatter and background music, but nothing off-putting or negative. Like I said there aren’t many choices around here for this crowd so this was a welcome addition to the area. There’s a bar with maybe 10 or so seats, several booths around the perimeter, with the rest of the space being filled by 2- and 4-top tables. The menu has a variety of items from a large selection of creative breakfast choices, sandwiches, wraps and of course burgers. There are also some mini donuts that looked really good but I didn’t get to try them during my visit.
What I did have on my visit was their Hangover burger: bacon, fried egg, Tillamook cheddar and special sauce. The bun was slightly dry, but well-proportioned to the patty. The patty seemed to be a bit on the generic side, and was cooked far beyond the medium rare I had ordered which resulted in a bit more dryness. Luckily between the fried egg and special sauce the dryness wasn’t too severe. The fried egg was good, the cheddar wasn’t too noticeable, and the bacon was also good but unfortunately not too noticeable. I’m not quite sure what the special sauce was, but a couple times I got a hint of mayo flavor in the mix. This burger was just ok; it wasn’t too moist or dry, but no flavors really stood out more than any others so overall it was just kind of a neutral burger. Pro tip: the burger begged for a strong, contrasting flavor to stand out from the rest; the several pickles that were speared to the top of the bun added just the right flavor and contrasting texture.
The shoestring fries were very good, and I’m usually not a big fan of them. They were all consistently cooked well, had good flavor and seemed pretty fresh. The only thing that bugs me about them, and this is no fault of the restaurant, is that they vary so much in length that when you try to grab a small bunch you can almost never get too many of them into the ketchup at once. It’s the little things… For $13 this might be a couple dollars too high for what you get, even though I don’t question the quality of any of their ingredients. The other problem is that aforementioned burger at Pizza Rock was $13.50, and unfortunately blows this one away. I try my best to analyze each burger individually, but ultimately have to compare them to the rest in town. On its own this is good, I just wish there was a tiny bit more to it. That shouldn’t stop you from checking out this restaurant, a lot of their food looks really great.