It’s been said that “geeks shall inherit the Earth” and if that prediction is true then the Nurd Berger Cafe’s usurpation of Globe’s restaurant scene might be a big step towards that goal.
That’s the city of Globe, by the way, a quiet little mining town about 85-miles east of Phoenix; known to knowledgeable nerds as the place where the original Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, once attended high school.
We recently took a road-trip to this historic Arizona city, which was named in 1875 after a huge ball (or globe) of silver that was found in its nearby Pinal Creek. After a morning of walking the hills of Round Mountain Park, my wife hit up Yelp to find a local eatery worthy of our post-hike hunger.
To our amazement, the Nurd Berger Café appeared towards the top of the list and, for our money, the name alone made it a spot worth checking out. That it was just a short jaunt from the hiking park sealed the deal.
At the corner of Ash and Hill Streets, just a stone’s throw from Wonder Woman’s old high school stomping grounds, you can’t miss the homey little diner’s incredible wall mural, which mashes up all sorts of groovy, nerdy graffiti – to the dismay of some in the city’s historical society, but to the delight of pop culture aficionados across the planet.
Nurd Berger emits an overwhelming aura of fun and you’ll feel as if you are caught in a tractor beam from the moment you get out of your car. As you walk through the door you are mesmerized in admiration of all the cool pop culture memorabilia on the walls.
I think we were supposed to place our lunch order at the counter, but we ended up grabbing a table and just glaring at all the spectacular decorations.
Before long, the lovely Ms. Rainy came to happily take our order. We were obviously not the first patrons to get side-tracked in this café of curiosities.
The front page of the Nurd Berger menu looks like standard diner fare, but when you flip it over you level up to items like “The Juggernaut Berger” and a “Pippin Philly Steak Sandwich” or a whole series of Pokémon themed chicken sandwiches.
I went with Rainy’s excellent recommendation of the “Raising Arizona Berger” which is a half-pound burger, pepper-jack cheese, a green chili, crispy jalapenos, jalapeno bacon, ranch and lettuce (I had mine sans tomato.)
My wife had the “Groot’s Mushroom Philly Steak Sandwich,” a Philly-styled cheese-steak with some “I am Groot” and mushrooms and Swiss. We shared our fries and onion rings.
The food was absolutely delicious and maybe it was just the wall of Lord of the Rings paraphernalia, but the atmosphere reminded me of a Hobbit’s dining room where you can never get enough good stuff to eat.
In fact, owner Taylor Harrison said that his original concept was to have a complete LOTR medieval-styled coffee shop, but he changed-up that idea to also include food and his love of Star Wars, comic books and gaming.
A longtime attendee of pop culture conventions, the restaurant’s memorabilia all comes from Taylor’s private collection and it is routinely changed and rotated throughout the diner.
Whether you are a fan of nerdom or just love good food, the Nurd Berger Café is a hidden gem that gives you a great excuse to go to Globe, if you’re not there already. We’ll definitely be returning again soon.
Nurd Berger owner, Taylor Harrison, talked to us about Globe and his incredible restaurant’s origin:
Are you a Globe native, what brought you to Globe?
A lot of crazy experiences and commercial property affordability brought me back to Globe mostly. I originally hail from the high desert hills of Globe and lived here until just after high school. In search of higher education, I moved to Mesa, AZ for 7 years and barely finished a two-year degree (mostly filled with Japanese language, electronic music and computer classes.) After losing my longtime job at Verizon Wireless, I decided to sell my house and give Globe a try again.
What is the origin story of your unique restaurant? When did Nurd Berger Cafe first open?
Everything just kind of fit together. I always wanted to open a coffee shop and was in the market for a kiosk like venue similar to Dutch Bros. to bring to Globe. Commercial property, even in this area, was pretty pricey and began to look out of reach.
Then one day my Grandpa was eating at his favorite breakfast place (George’s Hamburger Shop) when the owner was telling him he was looking to sell. We jumped on the opportunity and now own a burger shop.
When I was brainstorming concepts or names I drove myself crazy. Until I began to look around and see all my Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and comic book memorabilia staring at me. (I’m pretty sure I saw Dr. Jones wink in approval.)
Why not have a theme that displays all the things I love and talk about every day and makes the restaurant feel like home! We opened on February 11, 2015, going on 3 years!
What is the significance (if any) of the transposed “e” and “u” in your name? Is the name a play on “Nerf herder” or am I just reading too much into it?
You hit it right on the head! I’ve had about 100 people ask the same thing to no avail… takes a true nerd to figure it out. Ha ha! One of the original names I was going to go with was “Nerf Herders” but wasn’t sure how the community would react to it being somewhat derogatory and all. It had a nice ring to it and I began to play off the word Nerf to Nerd to fit the theme.
Eventually, I decided to switch the “e” and “u” just for fun. Turns out “Nurd” was used with that spelling in the 60s and 70s and “Berg” is “hill” in German and we are located on Hill St. It all worked out. Thanks to inspiration from a fired-up space princess!
What are your most popular menu items?
The Classic Bergers are our most popular menu item by far. It’s an old-fashioned style 1/4lb burger with fresh toppings. We try to make them as close to looking like a “Krabby Patty” as possible. Ha!
For people extra hungry the most popular item is the Raising Arizona. It’s a 1/2lb patty with pepper-jack cheese, crispy jalapenos, green chili, and jalapeno bacon on top of lettuce, tomatoes and ranch. It’s our version of an Arizona burger since there isn’t really any out there. We love our State!
Carrie Curley and Robert Wilson from San Carlos, AZ (20 miles east of Globe), very talented artists! They came to me and asked if they could paint a mural with characters on the side and I was all for it. We chose the characters and they tagged it up freehand. Pretty amazing!
I understand you caught some flak over the cafe’s mural. It’s obviously still there. Is that “controversy” all over now?
Yeah, it was crazy! I never expected painting the side of a building you own would get you into so much trouble. It had to do with sign laws, historic preservation and a bunch of political mumbo jumbo.
In the end it all worked out thanks to the support of the community and people who got behind us and voiced their opinions on how ridiculous some were being. We get to keep the mural and hope to update it in the future!
You’re off the beaten path a bit. How do most people find you?
Online presence and word of mouth are the biggest ways people find us. The mural also helps from the road. Some people pass us up thinking were just a house.
I know that Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) went to High School in Globe for a while and has some family connections. Do you have any insight into that? Is that old closed school across the street from Nurd Berger where she went to school?
Yes it is true! Lynda Carter has a few family connections in Globe and did attend school here for a bit. She still visits town now and then (mostly to shop downtown.) People come in asking if she’s stopped in yet, and she hasn’t made it to Nurd Berger — yet — but when she does I’ve got an original Wonder Woman poster for her to sign!
The old Hill Street School across from us is closed and has been for a while. It very well may have been [where Carter attended school], I’m not sure if she attended middle school or high school here. Both schools though are only about 500 feet from each other, so she was super close at one point in time!
The great Chuck Norris also has connections in Globe (an aunt and cousins) and he worked at Safeway one summer while in his teens.
What are your expansion plans?
We just purchased a 1962 Chevy P10 food truck that we are fixing up right now. We are hoping to get into events and eventually land a spot at Comic Con next year. I’ve got a 3-year plan that involves opening a shop in the Queen Creek or Mesa area in the near future! I would love to have a larger building for even more nerd filled fun and nostalgia!
IF YOU GO: Nurd Berger Café
420 Hill St. Globe, AZ [Google Map]
Hours: 10:30 AM to 8:00 PM Monday – Saturday