Burger and a Belt (Checkers Food and Spirits)
Checkers Food and Spirits 14 South Warren Street, Trenton (609) 394-3895
By my own, rough reckoning, I passed Checkers at least 1,500 times over the last 3 years without noticing it. From the outside, there’s really nothing to notice. In truth, it wasn’t until someone referred me to it, and I looked for it, that I discovered it.
Inside’s another story. Show up any weekday around lunch hour and you’ll immediately notice that almost every seat at the long, shadowy bar, and among the myriad of tiny tables crowded into the side and back, is full.
Then you’ll notice the smoke. The range hood doesn’t quite draw out all the smoke from the burgers grilling in a tiny kitchen area near the end of the bar.
If you love the smell of charring meat, this may be a plus. Otherwise, you may want to sit near the front, or get your food to go.
Checkers is a bar serving downtown workers that does a decent lunch. Food is served Mondays through Fridays only from 11-2:30. The bar reopens for happy hour from 4:00-6:00 (catching local office workers on their way home), then shuts down.
Burgers are the main attraction, and Checkers shows up on the annual readers’ poll that the Downtowner conducts. In another town, this might make sense: Checker’s burgers are very good. However, Trenton’s standards are awfully high and by my reckoning, Checkers is just half a notch below the very best in town. Burgers cost $4.75-5.75 depending on the fixings (Cheeses: American, Bleu, Cheddar, Provolone, Swiss, plus bacon or veggies), and come standard with tomato, onions, pickles, and your choice of potato salad or chips (no fries – the kitchen can’t support a deep fryer).
Checkers also serves some pretty decent entree salads (Caesar, Greek, Taco, Garden, Cobb), chili, and sandwiches.
Checkers also has a full bar, so you can order beer, wine, or your favorite cocktail with your lunch.
If you’re downtown at lunchtime, and hankering for an inexpensive, really good quality burger, Checkers is a great option.