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If you thought burger joints were a dime a dozen, well, here's the gold standard

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Tim Haley of Wild Willy's sautees onions and mushroom while chili perks on a back burner as he prepares for a Friday lunchtime crowd. (Rochester Voice photos)

Editor's note: Today The Rochester Voice begins a new weekly feature - Rochester Eats - featuring some of the tastiest offerings of the Greater Rochester area. Bon Appetit!

ROCHESTER - If you're a burger connoisseur, then you'll be a fan of Wild Willy's.

The burger place at 724 Columbus Ave. has been operated by Tim Haley, his son, John, and Jerry Richard for about 15 years now and they're still packing 'em in.

"It's simple, we guarantee satisfaction," said Tim Haley as he sautéed

onions and prepared the day's chili early Friday morning.

Wild Willy's is located at 724 Columbus Ave. It opens at 11 a.m. for the early lunch crowd.

There used to be a certain hamburger chain that said "Have it your way," but at Wild Willy's it's more like, "Have it the best way."

And if you're a burger joint the number one place to start is the meat between the buns.

"It's the quality of the beef, the freshness, that makes it so good," Haley said. "It's all certified angus beef. We also get the Pineland Farms natural beef, the bison burger and you can even get the prime burger, which is USDA Prime Beef. That's the top grade."

They don't have a lot of items on the menu - it's mostly burgers, chicken, chili, fries and onion rings - but the variety of ways you can have them is, well, nearly countless.

And when it comes to cheese they aim to please. There's American, swiss, smoked cheddar, Cabot sharp cheddar, Cabot pepperjack and blue.

A nicely topped Wild Willy's burger, with red onion and all the fixins. (Courtesy photo)

Of course any burger joint has fries and Wild Willy's is no different, but these fries come from potatoes grown just up the road at Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg, Maine. That makes a big taste difference.

One of their specialties is the Canadian side called poutine, which is cheese curds and french fries inundated with a delicious beef gravy.

One of their signature burgers is the Smoke House which is a Montreal seasoned burger, with smoke cheddar, bacon, sautéed onions, mushroom, hickory mayo and A-1 sauce.

Want more? How bout a Rio Deluxe, with hatch green chilies, cheddar, bacon, white onions, pickle and tomato.

With any burger, you get the choice of three superb grades: certified Angus beef, Pineland Farms Natural or bison. Trust me, they're all fantastic.

Another treat you don't want to forget is their delicious frappes.

"We make it the old-fashioned way," says Haley. "milk, syrup and ice cream."

Sounds simple, but if you're used to getting your shakes at some fast food place, be ready for a taste jolt.

They also feature fresh-squeezed fruit drinks.

A grilled chicken special with crispy tortilla strips, cheddar, salsa, chipotle mayo, banana peppers, red onion and lettuce. (Courtesy photo)

Folks on a diet rest assured. They also have some delicious salads, like the Char-Grilled Chicken for $7.95, built on a bed of mixed greens, grape tomatoes, red onions, mushroom, cucumber and carrots.

And for gluten sensitive patrons they have gluten free buns.

If you haven't been to Wild Willy's yet remember that this is an eatery where you order at the counter, not at your table. So after you decide on your selection, let them know and they'll bring it to your table.

So what's the biggest allure to Wild Willy's? "The freshness," Haley said. "And we guarantee 100 percent satisfaction."

And the best thing about running such a successful restaurant?

"The best part is seeing the people leave happy and bringing family back to eat here or seeing people visiting the area making it a point to come in."

Wild Willy's opens at 11 a.m. daily.

For menus click here.

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Wine and Dine
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