This week I had a chance to get an in-depth look at the new Smashburger opening on the corner of Fort Union and Union Park Ave. I’ve always been a fan of the chain and have associated them with freshness and quality along with really tasty smash fries and sweet potato fries. It wasn’t until I got a peek behind the scenes, that I really got a sense of all the small things they do that makes them successful. This is America and the burger has been done millions of times over the years. If you want some separation from the rest of the competition, you really have to perfect your craft. Smashburger operates in 30 states and in 4 different countries from Costa Rica to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This will be their 212th store.
So what sets them apart? Well for one they use only certified Angus beef, never frozen beef for their burgers. I know what you might be thinking, Angus beef, yeah everyone says their beef is Angus, except what you might not know is only 8% of the beef served in the U.S is certified Angus beef. You can read the requirements here. The process in which they make the burgers is even more interesting. First they put some butter on the grill (Let’s face it, you aren’t going to eat delicious cheeseburgers to lose weight, so let’s not kid ourselves) They then take a loose ball of ground beef and “smash” it into the grill at a high temperature. This creates a sear with the butter and forms what Smashburger calls “Meat Candy” on the outside of the patty. The concept is the same is if you were grilling up a steak. The searing process traps the juices and flavor inside the patty. Yet as the burgers are cooking, they are loosely packed enough to allow for air to steam up throughout. It was so beautiful to watch, I wanted to cry.
The evidence that all the flavor was successfully trapped inside was what was not left on the grill after the patty was done cooking. No oily or greasy leftovers at all. It was awesome! I also watched them cook one of their black bean veggie burgers. Again, they don’t use a pre-made “heaven knows what’s inside” patty. They take fresh black beans, and mix them with tortillas and spices. After sampling the veggie bean patty, I asked if I could immediately have another bite of meat, not because I didn’t like the black bean burger, but because I didn’t want to run the risk of liking the vegetarian option too much, and consequently convert over to being a vegetarian!
Of course the protein section of the burger is only part of the overall experience. You can have great tasting meat, but disgusting or old toppings or stale bread and the entire burger is ruined. That is why Smashburger cuts all their veggies and toppings fresh in-house, even the jalapenos. They use an egg bun for their burgers for the denser flavor. Here are a few of their offerings.
Each Smashburger in the U.S has a local burger for that specific city. In Las Vegas they have a Sin City Burger, in Minneapolis they have the Twin City Burger. Each one is unique. For Salt Lake City they offer the Beehive Burger which has honey BBQ sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar, and haystack onions. As a bonus the bacon was thick and juicy, not “see through thin” like some fast food joints. Notice the sweet potato fries in this picture. They are the best ones I’ve ever had. Thin shoestring style fries that are crispy and delicious.
The spicy baja is another great choice. Guacamole, cheese, and avocado go together superbly! With them are the smashfries which have some rosemary and truffle oil on them. I don’t know why more places don’t put rosemary on their fries. I love how they taste. This is one of the main reasons I’ve never been a huge fan of In and Out Burger. Their fries are majorly disappointing. Not this place, all of their sides are awesome! One funny thing I learned from Brian Beers, their regional VP of operations, is that he almost scrapped the idea of fry sauce at the Utah locations when he cam aboard. That idea was greeted with horror by everyone. “NO, you can’t take away fry sauce” Good choice in sticking with fry sauce Brian!
The parade of burgers continues with the truffle mushroom swiss. What is there not to love about this burger? I love it anytime I get to eat mushrooms, since everyone else in my family can’t stand them. These shrooms are awesome, and this particular burger came accompanied with flash fried veggie frites. (Now you can say you are eating healthy, because hey they are veggies right?)
For those wanting to avoid the beef, all of the menu choices are available in chicken as well. They even follow the same process for preparing the chicken. They take chicken breast and smash it with a mallet to ensure that in is evenly cooked. I had this one with a whole wheat bun.
Okay so I kinda lied about not being able to come here if you are on a diet. The salads were awesome. When they brought it out to me, I could have sworn that I paid $15 or something for it. Huge bowl and huge portions. Fresh chicken and fried egg with a healthy bed of greens. Don’t be deceived by the size of the bowl in this picture, it was Goldilocks papa bear big.
Smashburger is just awesome. Yes you can buy a $1 burger at a fast food place for cheaper, but for the quality of the burger you are getting, this is well worth it. Notice in all the pictures of the burgers they have the hot burger side separated from the cool veggies side. It’s all about presentation, taste, and comfort of the restaurant. These guys do it right, so if you haven’t already tasted the goodness that is Smashburger, then go give them a try. Maybe even grab a Nutter Butter and Jelly shake while you are at it!