Smashburger offers gourmet style burgers without the gourmet price.

by Young Kim

For the past two weeks or so, I have been craving hamburgers and fries.  I tried out a few of the burgers in the Republic of Boulder, but I kept getting disappointed.  For example, at one pub – which I won’t name – the burger was flavorless yet simultaneously so over-sauced that the buns turned into wet paper napkins.  And don’t get me started on the overcooked fries that tasted like twigs.


One random night, I was still trying to cleanse my palate of the twigs I had from a few days before, and decided to try out Smashburger located at the 29th Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado.  As soon as I walked in, it was as if the burger gods answered my prayers.

That night, I ordered the BBQ, Bacon & Cheese Smashburger with a side of Smashfries.  In one bite I was able to discern each ingredient all working together:  the tangy BBQ sauce, the crunchy haystack onions, and the sweet applewood smoked bacon.  The egg bun was firm enough to hold itself against the grease yet still soft and buttery sweet.  The best part was I could still taste the savory hamburger.

Smashburger’s signature Smashfries were crispy, and seasoned with a touch of rosemary, olive oil, and garlic.  I had the opportunity to try the Sweet Potato Smashfries , which were equally addictive, and did not require any additional seasoning or ketchup; I think that would actually ruin them.

The staff at the Boulder Smashburger was also exception. They were courteous, attentive, kept the place clean, and, most importantly, cooked the food perfectly.  It was the kind of service one would expect at a restaurant, and not typically at a fast food joint.  Tom Ryan, the founder of Smashburger, explained that he wanted to create a restaurant where true burger lovers could get gourmet quality burgers without having to pay for the gourmet price, still have it made quickly, and be able to sit down and eat it in a modern and vibrant atmosphere.

The first Smashburger opened in Glendale, Colorado in June of 2007, and gets its name from the way the burgers are made.  Without giving away too many trade secrets, each morning, the staff makes third pound, and half pound meat balls from 100% fresh (never frozen), ground Angus beef.  When an order is placed, the cook literally smashes the balls of meat onto a flat grill.  I’ve seen other restaurants that tried to pull this off, and often the burgers come out like burnt beef wafers.  Smashburger patties still have a good shape, and retain all the juicy goodness.

Smashburger currently has 68 stores in 15 states and 20 markets.  Ryan hopes that each Smashburger becomes every city’s favorite burgers place.  With that in mind, each Smashburger tries to modify its menu to localize it for each market.  For example, the Oklahoma Smashburger has fried dill pickles and ranch dressing, while the Texas Smashburger is huge open-faced burger topped with chili.

The Colorado Smashburger is made with grilled fresh green chilies, melted cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, tomato and may on a spicy chipotle bun.  Although the burger itself sounds like a five alarm fire on paper, the mayo, lettuce, and tomato actually end up balancing out all the heat.  I would recommend chasing it down with a chocolate milk shake made with real Häagen-Daz® ice cream.  The Boulder Smashburger menu also includes non-burger items like the Classic Smashchicken, Veggie Frittes, and the Baja Cobb Salad.

Smashburger also allows patrons to design their own burgers.  One of Ryan’s personal creations is made with Smashsauce, cheddar cheese, haystack onions, applewood smoked bacon, and a fried egg on a classic egg bun.  This indulgent creation is like eating a steak and egg breakfast in burger form.  I knew I couldn’t finish it, but I also couldn’t stop eating it.

I took the opportunity to design my own SnapshotFoodie Smashburger.  It’s not an official menu item… yet… so here is the recipe:  cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, BBQ sauce, red onions, lettuce, and tomato on a multi-grain bun.  It is a burger that looks as good as it tastes. 

I will continue to try out other burger spots in Boulder, of course.  For now, I feel satisifed in knowing there is at least one good burger joint in town that I can count when I start craving burger and fries again.

Smashburger is perfect for foodies who are true burger lovers.
1650 28th Street
Boulder, CO  80303