Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Smashburger in Fairfax

Originating in Denver, Smashburger is slowly sweeping the nation with its restaurants. They have finally made their way to the NOVA/DC area and I couldn't be happier. With fresh ingredients, juicy burgers and good prices I can see how Smashburger has been so successful.
The founder Tom Ryan has quite an impressive resume, developing business building concepts, products and marketing programs for well-known restaurants. Some things we can thank him for are the stuffed crust pizza at Pizza Hut, the Dollar Menu at McDonald's and some of the more delicious sandwiches at Quiznos. 
 What separates Smashburger from other burger joints is the method of cooking. They don't have premade or frozen patties. It's delivered fresh everyday, beginning with rolling the meat into meatballs(1). Then they wipe some butter on the grill and put the meatball on (2). Next comes the wax paper and the burger masher, smashing the burger for 10 seconds (3). Next comes the super secret mixture of seasonings, sprinkling from the outside and going in (4). When it comes time to flip, you have to  make sure that you don't mess up the bottom of the burger (5). An example of the perfect caramelization on the bottom of the burger which helps the juices stay inside the burger, making it so delicious(6).

Even though we went in the kitchen after we ate our lunches, we tried a bite of this burger right off the grill. It was delicious-juicy and flavorful, an awesome burger!
Then came the opportunity to try and make the burgers ourselves. Excuse the photos, I edited them to take out my lovely double chin from a poor camera angle. Bottom line is I kicked the other guys butt who made them when it came to flipping. Mine had the perfect caramelization on the bottom :) I could pretty much be a Smashburger burger chef now :) They have a smashing game online where I came close to the highscore. If you play it and get close to a high score, they will give you a coupon of some sort.
One of the coolest things (just one of them!) is that there is a personalized burger for every area that Smashburger is in. The burger for our area is rightly named the Capital grilled onions, swiss cheese, baby arugula, applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, mayo on a brioche bun. This was amazing-all the flavors were perfect, definitely representative of the tastes in this area. I would order this again.
 The other burger we decided on was the Spicy Baja pepper jack cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion, spicy chipotle mayo, fresh jalapenos on a spicy chipotle bun. Another excellent choice. This burger was a big kick, if you do not like spicy don't order this. One of the things I loved most was that they used fresh jalapenos (so many places used jarred nowadays it seems)
Along with burgers, they also have the option of ordering a chicken sandwich, either grilled or fried. Deciding to try and be healthy, we decided to try the grilled Spinach and Goat Cheese sandwich goat cheese, cucumbers, tomato, onion, balsamic vinegar on a multi-grain bun. This was a very good, light and refreshing sandwich. Perfect for those who want a sandwich/burger like meal yet want to try and be semi-healthy. 
Tom also brought out one of his favorites, a fried Buffalo Sandwich Franks redhot buffalo sauce, crumbled blue cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo on a egg bun which looked pretty amazing (minus the blue cheese-bleh). 
Because they also cater to the non-meat eaters, Tom brought out a Spicy Baja Black Bean Burger pepperjack cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion, spicy chipotle mayo, fresh jalapenos on a spicy chipotle bun and let us have that because Carrie asked how it was (she has a sister who is a vegetarian). I don't like veggie burgers in general, and if I were at a dinner party I could eat this to be polite. Carrie said it was pretty good for a veggie burger. 
For sides we ordered the Smashfries tossed with rosemary, olive oil, garlic. Holy Crap these were amazing. Crispy, delicious-everything a fry should be and then some. This portion is perfect to split between 2 people.  
...and the Fried Pickles served with buttermilk ranch dressing. These were also really good, Carrie was a big fan of these. 
For those who must take the healthier route, they do have ginormous salads available. Tom brought out 2 different types to show around. The first is the Classic Cobb  mix of fresh greens, fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, onions, cheddar, blue cheese, buttermilk ranch and the second is the Spinach and Goat Cheese spinach, goat cheese, raisins, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cucumbers  tomatoes, onions, balsamic vinegar. We got to try the Spinach and Goat Cheese salad, and it was really good. I ended up taking it home and eating it for a later dinner. If you insist on getting a salad at a burger place you won't go home hungry, they will be packed full of a flavor and fresh ingredients. 
And of course, no burger place is complete with out a milkshake. Smashburger's milkshakes use Häagen-Dazs ice cream. We got a Strawberry and a Chocolate milkshake. Delicious. I'll have to try a Butterfinger milkshake next time. 
This could not have been a better experience. Everyone was so friendly and knowledgeable.  Tom was proud of his product and had lot's of interesting stories about how he came up with certain ideas-a great role model for creativity. I am always down for free food, I mean who isn't, but this experience went above on beyond with Tom really going in depth on the restaurant concept and learning about many different aspects involved in the restaurant process. All they need now is a signature milkshake for the area and all will be perfect. 

The food was great. This is the perfect relaxed/casual dining experience. As long as Smashburger keeps the quality that was exhibited the other day, they will kick butt in the burger/casual dining industry in this area. They have an original cooking method, tasty combos, a menu that will please everyone and quick service. 

They opened today so stop by and give them a chance! I know I will be back in the near future for some burger, fries and a beer! I'll be going back in a few weeks to check up on them. Who wants to come with me??

10160 Fairfax Blvd #118
Fairfax, VA

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