Divine Bovine

Southern
Divine Bovine, Tucson
By Noah Austin | Photograph by Steven Meckler

Devotees of Divine Bovine (translation: “Holy cow”) tend to undergo a natural progression as they navigate the restaurant’s extensive burger menu. Beginners might order the standard cheeseburger or the 5B (bacon, blue cheese and balsamic vinegar) before trying more exotic creations, such as the Funny Farm Hand (peanut butter, jalapeño raspberry jam, candied bacon, sweet hot pickles and white cheddar). The latter was the first burger Ben Rine concocted after moving into a space that formerly held a Mexican restaurant on Tucson’s east side. “I was just thinking, I hope this is gonna be good,” he says. “And it knocked me off my feet.”

Natural progression is something Rine, a Tucson native, knows well. He’s been cooking in the city for more than two decades — ever since he was given a cookbook while he was in the hospital as a teenager. He went from mom-and-pop restaurants to fine dining and catering, then opened his own place, BrushFire BBQ, in 2007. After 10 successful years, Rine sold BrushFire and took some time off before opening Divine Bovine in early 2019.

“I knew I wanted to go back to a small place that was fun,” he says. “There’s something magical about feeding somebody and watching them eat it. You see the joy and the excitement on their faces. [Divine Bovine] is small, it’s quaint, and it’s a full open kitchen. People want to see who’s making their food, and I think it makes the food taste better.”

It helps that everything on the menu is fresh, high-quality and made from scratch, starting with the meat, which is a custom blend of chuck, brisket and short rib. (For the beef-averse, bison, chicken or a meatless Impossible Burger can be substituted on all burgers.) The buns are baked daily by Tucson’s La Baguette Parisienne. The french fries, which Rine spent two months perfecting, are triple-fried and crispy on the outside, but mashed-potato-like on the inside. And a bucket of one of the more than 60 beers on hand makes an ideal pairing.

Rine’s favorite Divine Bovine burger is the I’ll Be Your Huckleberry, which includes goat cheese, reduced balsamic, sweet chili sauce, crispy bacon and roasted red peppers. “It’s such an explosion of flavors that keep changing as you eat it,” he says. “It blows my mind every time.” And that experience is what Rine aims to give his customers: “I want them to walk away saying they’ve never tried something like that before. I want to make something that people are going to crave and not stop dreaming about.”

Divine Bovine is located at 1021 N. Wilmot Road in Tucson. For more information, call 520-203-8884 or visit divinebovineburgers.com.