mortal sin burgers

by erin thursby
For those that live and work Downtown, Karlene’s is a stimulating edition to the city scene. Sandwich and lunch stops are plentiful, but after 2 pm and the lunch rush, most of these places shutter their windows and close their doors. Not so at Karlene’s. They plan to be open as late as possible, closing after 10 on weekdays and staying open even later Thursday through Saturday.
The food at Karlene’s is casual-the sort of things that are served in baskets with red and white checkered paper. They hit an in-between price-point and sensibility. Nothing on the menu is over $9 and most items fall into the $7 range. It’s not as low and fast as the food court and it’s not as costly as some of the sit-down courtyard restaurants at the Landing. They’re hoping that the theatre crowd from the Performing Arts Center will see it as a place for a quick post-theatre bite. No doubt they’ll also catch folks from the late-lunch goers who didn’t quite make lunch hour but can’t wait till dinner to nosh.
You can enter the restaurant without having to enter the rest of the Landing. Like Starbucks, it has its own entrance facing Bay Street. It also has an entrance indoors inside the Landing.
One of their selling points is that they serve breakfast all day. At lunch time some of their best selling items are from the breakfast menu. Omelets, quiche, pancakes, grits and French toast are all on the menu. You can call the French toast Freedom toast, if you’re angry at the French for some reason. The stuffed biscuit or pita looked good to me. It’s a light breakfast, scrambled eggs with your choice of meat served on a biscuit or in a pita for just $2.99. You can also carry away a bagel or a grilled breakfast wrap.
I found it a bit strange that a sandwich place would have a full bar, but then, this is the Landing, where anything that can have a bar does, and if it doesn’t they build one. If you so choose, you can get slotted over a turkey club at Karlene’s. It’s not on the courtyard circle, so during events it’s bound to be a bit more chill than the places that are.
Service is still a bit rough around the edges, but they were only a week in, as of this review. In a few more weeks they’ll have their staff inured to the surroundings and menu.
If it’s not on the breakfast menu, most of what they serve is surrounded by some sort of bread, whether it be a wrap, panini, melt or sandwich. Their salads are okay, but their real strength lies in their fantastic burgers.
The marinated steak burgers are so good they might well be a mortal sin. I grudgingly shared some of mine with my husband. “Well,” he said after taking a bite “if I was going to heaven, I’m not now.” Yep. It’s that good. If you’re a big eater and you like meat, go for their burger. As tasty as it was, I simply could not finish the 1/2 pound delight.
The fries that come with are thick cut, but you can replace those with their homemade chips, still warm from the fryer.
I also enjoyed their fresh grilled spinach and hummus wrap. I was surprised by a touch of cayenne in the hummus. They make the hummus in-house and serve it wrapped in a spinach tortilla with tomato, pepper jack cheese onions and fresh spinach leaves.
Their Cuban panini was decent, but I tasted it after the burger, and I think most experiences would pale after that.
Karlene’s does deliver and you can order online. Check them out at If your order is large enough, even if your office is nowhere near Downtown, they might deliver. Call ahead to find out at 683-0150. The next time you’re Downtown check out Karlene’s. Your mouth will be glad you did.