“This is the best burger I’ve ever had!,” exclaimed my daughter’s friend. My 10 year old flashed two thumbs up; her mouth was too full to speak.
The cause for their excitement was their first encounter with Smashburger, a Colorado-based “fast, casual” restaurant chain that is opening a Culver City location (its first in the L.A. basin and follows last year’s opening in Thousand Oaks).
The name Smashburger suggests a colorful, action-filled food den fit for kids; however, the menu reveals a sophisticated side that foodies will dig. My dinner choice was the L.A. Smashburger, an item designed specifically for Southern California. This burger comes topped with a fried egg, a crispy wonton, lettuce, tomato, cilantro and cucumber, along with a ginger dressing. While it sounds like a big mess, the wonton adds a nice crunch, the egg isn’t runny and the ginger dressing isn’t overdone.
The menu offers a half dozen options, from classic styles (regular, bacon cheeseburger, bbq bacon cheeseburger) to more colorful concoctions (the Fresh Mex and the Avocado Club, which was quite tasty), that come as a hamburger or chicken breast sandwich. There is also a “Create Your Own Burger” option as well as a couple tasty looking salads.
The name Smashburger comes from the cooking concept of smashing the meat on to the grill to sear in its juices. This technique, as founder Tom Ryan explained to our table, allows them to cook an item fresh to order and cook it fast. Smashed burger also makes for a burger that is a good, normal size (although you can also add a patty or two) and not that sloppy to eat.
Besides their signature cooking style, Smashburger has a couple other great menu items. The sides were all sensational. Smashfries are typically shoestring fries lightly seasoned with rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Their sweet potato fries are both soft and crispy, while haystack onions aren’t some oversized brick of fried-ness. The most impressive side was the Veggie Frites. Ryan admitted that he took the idea of Szechuan green beans and flash-fried green beans and carrots, for a healthier finger-friendly side than the standard fry.
This healthy option gets deliciously undercut by Smashburger’s offering of thick and tasty milk shakes. Made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream, the flavors range from the typical V. C.S. trio (Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry) to cooler flavors like Oreo, Nutter Butter, Butterfinger and Chai.
This is a type of place that will be enjoyable for everyone in the family. The menu contains items simple and recognizable for the little ones along with more adventurous fare for a more adult palate (plus there is also a selection of beers too). In a town with enough burger spots to keep Wimpy busy, Smashburger should find a place of its own to squeeze into between the greasy spoons and the silver spoons, the fast food joints and the sit-down diners. It’s a restaurant that serves up food with enough quality, style, simplicity and tastiness to satisfy everyone.
Smashburger is located at 10704 Venice Blvd. in Culver City. For information, visit smashburger.com