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Dining out: Smashburger

You'd think I'd be sick of all the burger places that have been opening in Utah in the past year or so.

But we're talking about burgers here. What's not to like?

I'm not into snooty burgers — I've admitted in this space before that I truly enjoy the rodeo cheeseburger, a fixture of Burger King's dollar menu.

But I am always ready to be surprised, or even delighted, by a hamburger restaurant that does burgers right without straying into pretentiousness.

Smashburger treads the pretentious line, just a bit — olive oil and rosemary adorn the "smashfries," and I giggled just a little at the many other items with "smash" in their names: smashsalads, smashsides, smashdogs.

They're all the more nonsensical in light of the fact that the "smash" in "smashburger" refers to the technique of tossing a ball of ground beef onto a hot griddle and, as it cooks, squishing it into a patty with a spatula to give it lots of crinkly seared bits at the edges.

It may be a tongue-in-cheek attempt to bring a smile to customers' faces. If so, it's not really necessary — the food does that all on its own.

Take those "smashfries." You can get plain old French fries (seasoned with sea salt) if you want, but please, please order smashfries, which are hauled out of the fryer and tossed with rosemary, olive oil, garlic and other herbs while they're still steaming hot.

My husband made fun of me because I kept picking up the basket and wafting the smell into my face.

I couldn't help it, though. The smell of smashfries is one of the best aromas I've encountered in a restaurant: rich, earthy, pungent, woody — it's just fabulous, and the fries tasted as good as they smelled.

We tried three other sides: the haystack onions, full-flavored little strands of thin-sliced, deep-fried onion goodness; the veggie frites, crisp-tender flash-fried asparagus, green beans and carrots with a mellow dipping sauce; and the chili, deliciously rich and beefy with big, creamy kidney beans and fresh jalapeno slices on top.

While the serving of onions was abundant and filling, the portions of veggie frites and chili seemed pretty small for the price.

My husband, the staunch traditionalist, had the classic smashburger.

He chose a half-pound patty (the other size is a third of a pound) with American cheese, lettuce, ketchup, onions and, for a bit extra, applewood smoked bacon on a rich egg bun.

I had a burger, too, the "beehive" smashburger: a third-pound patty with bacon, Cheddar cheese, honey barbecue sauce and haystack onions on an egg bun.

This was just wonderful. Not only did it taste terrific, with beautiful balances of taste and texture, but it stayed together amazingly well from the first bite to the last.

My sister, Cass, and her boyfriend, Jason, shared a couple of sides and the smashchicken sandwich, a huge chicken breast grilled and topped with red onion, pickles, lettuce, tomato and mayo on a multigrain bun. It's no smashburger, but it tasted just fine.

For dessert, we shared a sweet bright-green grasshopper mint shake and, my favorite, a silky-textured chocolate shake with plenty of slurp and a bittersweet finish.

Burgers and chicken sandwiches $4.99-$6.99; hot dogs $3.49-$3.99; salads $6.99; add-ons 49 cents-$3; sides $1.49-$2.99 with sandwich and $2.79-$3.59 alone; kids' meals $3.99; shakes, malts and floats $3.99.

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News.


Rating: ★★★

Where: 2100 S. 1028 East; 3513 S. 2700 West, West Valley City

Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 801-478-0158

Wheelchair access: Easy


Also: More Utah locations planned in Draper, Provo and Logan