Burgers at Morty's Backyard (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Morty’s Backyard: Belly bustin’ burgers & so much more

March 22, 2023
By Mark Whittaker
By Mark Whittaker

Off the Eatin' Path

Every single one of us has a proverbial Morty in our life. Doesn’t matter what stretch of the globe you live on, there is some form of a Morty you know. It could be that strange uncle who shows up at family gatherings with exciting yet completely fabricated tales of exotic misadventures in far-off lands. Maybe it’s that grumpy grandpa who has done and seen too much, doesn’t want to pet your dog, and then by the day, it’s sitting on his lap while they nap. 

Years back, I had a neighbor named Morty in the Bay Area, who was, shall we say, “loose” with his clothing options, or lack thereof. They’d also come knocking at the door during the early morning hours asking to borrow tools, ointments, and even the keys to my car at one point. 

The thing is, when you hear the name Morty, it tends to invoke a certain image of a certain person. Right? Now, imagine what that Morty would be eating. An acai wheat berry health bowl? Meh. Perhaps fancy finger sandwiches? Not really. What about a burger slapped deep with Jack and cheddar cheeses, fried onions, and pulled pork?

Morty’s Backyard (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Hey, there you are, Morty!

In November of 2022, a food truck opened its doors to us all here in Tucson — one that Morty of all walks of life can appreciate and enjoy (unless Morty is a hardcore vegan, but they’re working on that). 

Morty’s Backyard boasts the promise and backs it up with huge burgers along with loaded fries for the very hungry masses. This is the kind of food we have come to expect in a city that has been featured on national food shows showcasing the audacity of what we can meat manage between buns. 

Chef and owner of Morty’s Backyard, Michael Mortimer, has well over 20 years of experience behind him working in kitchens across Southern Arizona and beyond. Much like a lot of accomplished cooks that have been making and plating upscale Instagram food, Michael, along with his wife Eva, just wanted to serve up grub that they would want to eat. That grub, for the very most part across the board, is burgers. 

“I have always wanted to do something like this,” said Michael as he and Eva prepared the truck for a hopefully busy lunch service. “I’ve been in the restaurant business almost my whole life and I worked for this one particular company for a very long time. It’s fortunately not around anymore because some pretty bad things started to happen toward the end. So, we were like ‘well, what are we gonna do now?’ I took a few well-needed years off and then one day this just popped into my head. And here we are!”

Burgers at Morty’s Backyard (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Before we continue, let’s get the Morty out of the way, unless you haven’t figured it out yet. Michael’s last name is Mortimer. So his nickname has always been Morty. The food that Michael “Morty” and Eva Mortimer cook is the kind of fare you would expect to see turnin’ and burnin’ in someone’s backyard. 

There you have it: Morty’s Backyard. 

Morty’s Backyard (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Michael originally hails from New Jersey but moved to Tucson as a young boy back in the late ‘70s. Eva, on the other hand, is from a small town in Hungary but has lived in the states for over 30 years, calling Tucson home for nearly that long. 

Discovering Morty’s Backyard was a very happy accident as I was hanging out with another truck that day and they happened to be parked right next door. After inspecting their menu that’s replete with burgers topped with balsamic fig glazes, grilled pineapple, chipotle aioli, and something called Morty’s Sauce, I was intrigued. 

When I asked what went into Morty’s Sauce, both Eva and Michael looked at me with a fluctuant gaze before looking at each other and letting out a bit of a laugh. Okay, fine. Keep your secrets. But their secret sauce is a tangy flavor jaunt, a kind of viscous auxiliary that can, will, and should go with nearly everything. 

The Morty Burger at Morty’s Backyard (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Such as the Morty Burger. Fresh mixed greens, tomatoes, onions, housemade pickles, and two kinds of cheese on a ground Angus patty finished with the special sauce was a delightful introduction to what Morty’s Backyard is all about. The 100% Angus chuck meat is one icon of their burgers, but as a huge fan of farm fresh greens and veggies, putting those allies to work just adds a more vibrant feel and flavor. It gave the whole experience a less greasy tongue and tummy woe post-partaking. 

Tucson has farms, people. Use them, love them, and support them. That’s what Morty’s Backyard does and I applaud that regard wholeheartedly. 

Give it up for the Godfather Burger, though. This is the triumph that the Morty’s of the world would stand up and salute. The Godfather features fig balsamic glaze among fresh basil, Swiss cheese, and garlic aioli.

Godfather Burger at Morty’s Backyard (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

It was so good that the folks waiting in line (yes, they started to get busy for lunch service) turned around to check out what was making all the ruckus. Me. It was me making the ruckus. Bite after bite I kept laughing because of how good this thing was. With some sandwiches, high accountability goes into the confidence of the components while the viscose goes unheard. Always listen to the viscose but don’t let it get too loud. 

The juicy balance of the burgers I sampled had that balance. You want to taste each and every element between your fingers, while at the same time, you want those fingers to get right mussed, having you scramble for at least five to six napkins. 

Forget the napkins because you will straight up need a beach towel during and after consuming any of their loaded fries. There are options such as the Mushroom Madness that, yes, incorporates white wine-sauteed mushrooms or the Wild Wild West that’s topped with pulled pork and a saucy barbecue sauce. 

Loaded Fries at Morty’s Backyard (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

It was the Arizona loaded fries that did it for me, though. Mainly because it is finished with seasonally fresh avocado and laced with that chipotle aioli. The bacon and fried chicken didn’t hurt either. Morty’s Backyard loaded fries are something to be shared because the amount of awesome you get can barely be contained in its extra large to-go container. 

“Excuse me, do you happen to have a kiddie pool with a lid for these fries? Yeah, that’s more like it.”

“There is something for everybody here,” said Michael after they take care of the line, leaving everyone happy and the opposite of hungry. “I mean, there is a full kids menu as well. If you want vegan we can totally work on that and do it. Think of our truck as your backyard. Whatever makes you happy, we got you.”

Morty’s Backyard (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Follow and find these guys because even if you aren’t a Morty at present, Morty’s Backyard will definitely make a Morty out of you. Not too sure what that means but after eating their food, it will somehow make perfect sense. 

For more information, follow Morty’s Backyard on Facebook and Instagram or by visiting mortys-backyard.square.site.

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Article By

Mark Whittaker began his journalism career in San Francisco around 1997. It was for a small Northern California music magazine that segued into contributing to numerous magazines, websites, newspapers and weeklies throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. Mark interviewed bands,...

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