February 25, 2013 // 12:01 pm // By: Dominique Zamora
Smash in this case meaning “to copulate furiously with,” and not “break to pieces with violence and often with a crashing sound,” obviously. Smashburger’s chefs are known for the latter — obviously.
Named for its signature cooking method which involves literally taking a ball of ground beef and smashing it flat on the grill to help “sear in the juices,” Smashburger is a Denver-based fast casual burger chain — similar to Umami and Fatburger — whose goal is to eventually become “every city’s favorite place for burgers.”
And judging by my most recent visit, I think it’s safe to say it’s doing a pretty bang-up job.
Last month, I met up with VP of Quality Control Stephen Sandoval to check out the newest Smash location in Aliso Viejo, Calif., before heading off to class. Tucked in a strip mall in the middle of a much larger shopping plaza, the place was pretty empty when I arrived around 10:30 in the morning, which made for some optimal tasting and interviewing time, during which more than a couple patrons made sure to tell my cordial interviewee that they’d just had the best burger they’d ever eaten in their lives.
With each Smashburger menu specially tailored “to reflect the tastes and flavors of your city or state,” the new Aliso Viejo location adopted the LA burger from its Angeleno brethren, which features crispy wonton, fried egg, cilantro, cucumber, lettuce, tomato and Japanese steakhouse ginger dressing on a black and white sesame seed bun. The wonton definitely provided a nice crunch, but didn’t overpower the flavor of the meat.
Its OC burger, in contrast, features portabella mushrooms, arugula, grilled onions, aged Swiss cheese and truffle mayo on an egg bun. Not sure what it says about us OC-dwellers that our regional Smashburger turned out so much greasier than LA’s, but the added juice was definitely welcome, especially considering that, while tasty, each Smashburger patty is cooked well-done and turns out much thinner than anything you’d find at an Umami.
My personal favorite, though, aside from the Salted Caramel shake — which was to die for by the way; literally, a creamy caramel orgasm in my mouth — where the veggie frites. Unlike so many other chains, Smashburger makes a legitimate effort to diversify its menu for the health-conscious by including, among other things, a chicken option for all its burgers, a pretty tasty line of salads, a black-bean veggie-burger and finally, the veggie-frites as an alternative to fries. Spicy and lightly fried, the veggie-frites are a solid option for all the health-conscious folks who don’t feel like having the sweet potato fries every single time they eat out.