By: Chase Lowenstein
The New Orleans burger bonanza continues to spread through Uptown, and this time the trend has national ramifications. Smashburger is set to open up a franchise on Magazine Street. Unlike other chain restaurants, Smashburger hopes to operate like a local eatery with classic New Orleans decor, localized menu items, and the passion for good food that this city is known for. Smashburger is all set to open Wednesday at 3300 Magazine St. NOLA Defender sat down with local owne, Amit Patel to discuss what separates his food from the rest.
The local location has a casual atmosphere. Unlike most burger restaurants, Smashburger didn’t completely renovate the interior to match every other location. They definitely did work to the 120 year old building but they left most of the brick walls bare to really show its history.
NOLA Defender asked Patel what brought his business here to New Orleans and he told us that him and his wife have lived in Uptown for two years now. “We’re in the food business, this is a great food city, and Smashburger is all about great food” the owner says.
So what truly separates Smashburger from the rest?. It’s all in the smash, Patel said.
“We take 100% certified fresh angus beef- never frozen, the highest quality beef you can get from a commercial standpoint. We make a fluffy meatball out of it, then you take the grill and put a little bit of butter on it and get it to the right temperature,” Patel explained. “Then we have a proprietary tool called the smasher [a larger flat piece of metal with a handle]. We literally smash the burger and what it does is it creates a sear on the bottom of it that holds all the flavor in and allows the meat on the inside to caramelize. From an operational standpoint it also allows it to cook faster.”
The local owner certainly isn’t fibbing. He had the cooks serve up a burger for NOLA Defender, and the prime patty took about 5-6 minutes to prepare. They served up a NOLA Burger, just one of a few regional menu items that you can’t find at any other Smashburger. Its bells and whistles consisted of fried green tomatoes, grown locally, and creole mustard from the local business “Kajun Kettle”.
“We’re going to come out with the best regional menu out of any Smashburger in the country,” Patel said.
Alongside the NOLA burger you can try a few recipes from K-Paul’s Kitchen including cajun fries and andouille sausage. Other items on the regional menu include debris fries, fried pickles, and hopefully coming soon is the Nectar shake – inspired by local favorite nectar snoballs. To drink, they have Barqs root beer on tap and are working on a root beer float as well.
“We took alot of things that we like to eat personally down here from some of our favorite places as well as local tastes,” Patel said.
Smashburger strives to give customers an open-kitchen vibe, which is literally what they have. If you want to peek in and see your burger being smashed you are certainly allowed to do so as they have an open diner-style kitchen. More often than not, you’d never want to stick your head in a typical fast-food restaurant for fear or getting grease burns or seeing something unspeakable. Smashburger, however, prides themselves on having nothing to hide. They claim to only use the highest quality ingredients available and cook using clean and efficient methods.
Patel says the official term for a restaurant like theirs is “fast casual” but he doesnt quite like the ring to it.
“Right now the way city zoning is written, there is sit down restaurants with full service, and there is fast food. But an emerging trend nationally and starting to come to New Orleans is that there is this void in the middle that isn’t being filled. You can get a burger here for $5.99 that at most restaurants in New Orleans would cost you $12. So we said how can we deliver great food in a timely fashion and still in a comfortable environment,” Patel said.
Smashburger invites customers to get comfortable, listen to music, do homework, and they’ll even come take your order from your table.