Smashburger in St. Anthony gets more than its burgers right

Confessions of a Tiger Beat nature: I have a tween-age crush on Smashburger.

This Colorado-based upstart differs from rival Five Guys Burger and Fries — which landed in Edina last month — in important ways. Both make a notably decent fast-food burger, but rather than adopt Five Guys’ almost monastic menu (limited to a straight-up burgers-fries-hot dogs-sodas selection), Smashburger tosses in all kinds of appealing bells and whistles, and then proceeds to get them right.

There are thick, hand-mixed malts, made with Häagen-Dazs ice cream and served with the can, and big old root beer floats fizzing with robust IBC root beer. The crisp, golden fries come twinkling with sea salt or tossed with fresh rosemary and garlic. Well-composed salads move far beyond their halfhearted McDonald’s/Burger King counterparts, and the all-beef hot dogs are the well-regarded Hebrew National label. There’s even a small and inexpensive beer and wine selection.

The restaurant’s name refers to its practice of pressing down on the burgers while they’re on the grill. That seems counterintuitive, smashing the meat’s juices out of the patty, but the results, in third- and half-pound options, are teasingly charred on the outside and pleasantly juicy inside. They’re nicely topped, too, with add-ons that include thick slices of applewood-smoked bacon, fried eggs, deep-fried onions and sautéed mushrooms; even the toasted buns earn bonus points for quality control.

The brightly colored, super-graphic setting has its perks, the staff is cheerleader-level friendly and $6.99 is the menu’s price ceiling. The company is promising more metro-area locations. In the meantime, if you catch me doodling “Smashburger” into the margins of my algebra notebook, at least now you know why.