I have used a variety of means to find good food in unfamiliar places. Yelp!, has become a favorite. Case in point, Smashburger. I was on my way to Wendover, NV/UT. I flew into Salt Lake. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time looking for lunch, but wanted something worth eating. I whipped it out (“it” being my phone) and asked yelp to show me the restaurants within about 5 miles of the airport. Smashburger came up near the top.
Those who know me, and I’m sure both of my readers do, know I enjoy “mom & pop” and “hole in the wall” places, because of their personality. I am not usually blown away by franchises. I did not know that I was going to a franchise when I went to smashburger. Which reminds me, if you notice the font on the wrapper in the pictures, you might be able to tell, their trademark and sign are Smashburger with a reversed color and background between the words. The problem is, in real life, their sign, when glanced at quickly, looks like a “Game Stop” sign. Not a big deal, but it added a few minutes to my search.
Smashburger’s gimmick is a, wait for it, . . . SMASHED BURGER. They preseason some fresh ground angus burger and ball it up. Then they put it on a flat griddle and SMASH it (did the Incredible Hulk come up with this concept?) with a big cookie cutter. According to the friendly person who showed me the process in the kitchen after I was done eating, this process sears in the juices (BS alert – Alton Brown tells me searing doesn’t really seal in juices). Whatever happens, be it a tooth fairy, the easter bunny, or the same magic that takes a mammal that eats its own feces and turns it into bacon, it’s delicious.
Take a look at the pics. I ordered a spicy selection from the menu, the fries (the wrong ones, I misread the menu) and onion strings.
The onion strings were great. Light, crispy and served with a dipping sauce with a bit of horseradish. It was great. I meant to order the (Hulk) Smash Fries but accidentally ordered the regular ones. Reviews I have read indicate that I would have wept with joy if I had ordered the (Hulk) Smash Fries. I didn’t weep over the regular ones, nor was I particularly joyous about eating them. However, let’s look at the reason you go to a burger place – the burger.
First, the patty is preseasoned. It’s a little trick I had adopted years ago and have loved the results. The seasoning is much like the steak or hamburger seasoning you buy from the grocery store. Nothing new, but a very effective and delicious combination of flavors. The patty is moist and delicious. The bun is toasted and not just white bread (but I don’t exactly know what it is, either). As you can see above, they serve it unassembled. I didn’t initially appreciate this, but in retrospect, it seemed a brilliant way to serve the burger, especially where jalepenos were involved. By serving it unassembled, I was able to select how many fresh jalepenos I wanted on my burger. I allowed me to customize it and not suffer needlessly from too much heat. For the record, I used all the jalepenos, but not everyone would.
In the fall and winter, I am always looking at my tomatoes. It is my belief that tomatoes suck in the fall through the spring. They are red on the outside, have very little meat and less flavor. In addition, restaurants typically use even the ones that seem to be full of a yellowish core on the inside that has no flavor and a very unwelcome crunch. The (Hulk) Smashburger tomatoes were good. Beyond that, each bite was a treat. I savored this burger like I have savored no burger in recent memory. Each flavor had the rich flavor of the patty, the crisp lettuce and juicy tomato flavors along with creamy spice of the pepper jack and their sauce. Finally, the almost smoky flavor of the fresh jalepenos added something wonderful I didn’t expect. Thanks for not using pickled jalepenos, (Hulk)Smash Burger.
In the final analysis, I have to admit to loving a burger from a franchise. However, I did my research and I don’t feel that bad. Some of the guys who developed Quiznos, another fine franchise, developed Smashburger. Their credentials show they are people dedicated to taste. Well, they certainly have developed a heck of a taste with Smashburger. Find one and go there.