I finally got around to trying Cheeseburger in Paradise on my last visit to Madison (see map). I've noticed that some of these have begun to pop up around the Midwest over the past couple of years. Cindy ate at one in the Chicago area last year and said it was OK. I thought I'd give it a try for lunch.
Cheeseburger in Paradise is a 39 location bar/restaurant chain owned by troubadour/rock star Jimmy Buffett. Named after his famous song, Cheeseburger in Paradise has a Caribbean motif and design inside the place. And, of course, Jimmy Buffett songs play on the sound system alternating with other contemporary and classic rock songs.
It was about 2 p.m. when I got to Cheeseburger in Paradise. I sat at the bar and got a menu from the bartender. There was one other guy at the bar having lunch and a couple three people scattered at other tables in the place.
In addition to burgers, they also feature sandwiches like a Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich, a fish sandwich with Mexican seasonings, and a Cuban Sandwich. Here's a guideline I always follow when it comes to Cuban Sandwiches - don't order Cuban Sandwiches in places other than Cuba or Little Havana in Miami. Once you've had a true Cuban sandwich, the ones that other places try to make are nowhere as good or as close to the real things.
They also had fish tacos on the menu. I'm a sucker for good fish tacos with fresh grilled fish on them. But I was there for the burger.
They had about 10 different burgers to choose from including a Baja Burger with sour cream, lettuce and jalapenos; a Blue Cheese Blast burger with melted blue cheese, grilled onions and topped with a pungent Asian mayonnaise; and the good ol' Bacon Cheeseburger.
I went with the very basic cheeseburger - the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" - a half pound burger topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a red onion. Pickles were served on the side. I also got an order of their french fries, but I almost got the sweet potato chips.
After about 15 minutes, my burger and fries came out. The burger was good, but nothing that set me off or would put it in my top 10. It was a typical chain restaurant burger, cooked with little emotion and sort of the "cookie-cutter" approach.
If I was in a town where I didn't know that there were better burger places around, then Cheeseburger in Paradise is a good choice for a burger. But with Dotty's and Blue Moon in the area, the burger at Cheeseburger in Paradise doesn't even come close to stacking up with those two.
(Update - Luby's, the parent company for Cheeseburger in Paradise, has been closing a number of these locations around the nation looking to put a new concept restaurant into those sites. The Madison-area location closed in the summer of 2014 and no announcement was forthcoming as to what would be taking its place.)