Before I begin my long-awaited(?) Smashburger review, allow me to mention a few things about Savoring Shreveport and how it works.
Since I don’t get paid to write this blog, I patronize restaurants with money out of my own pocket. For both financial and dietary reasons, I try to limit my restaurant meals. The caveat with this system is that the blog doesn’t get updated on a regular basis. Sometimes posts are a few days apart, and at other times, the gaps may be longer. However, Savoring Shreveport is still going strong, and will hopefully continue to do so until I run out of restaurants or I move away, whichever comes first. So, if I fall silent for awhile, don’t despair! I’ll usually be back sooner than later.
Alright, Smashburger. I figured it’s about damn time I wrote this thing up; I’ve eaten at Smashburger several times since the initial VIP lunch, and I think I’ve enjoyed enough of their menu to make a fair assessment.
Before Smashburger opened, when the first whisperings of a boutique burger joint were making the rounds, my gears started turning (as well as my salivary glands). I assumed Smashburger would be something akin to Five Guys, which has, quite frankly, some of the best food I’ve ever had. (If you haven’t been lucky enough to experience the majesty that is Five Guys, get thee to one: the closest locations are in Little Rock and Plano.) To my surprise, Smashburger has very little in common with Five Guys; it’s an entirely different (but still delicious) burger-eating experience.
Americans are finally beginning to pay attention to where their food comes from. They’re also branching out culinarily, thanks in part to the pop cuisine of Food Network celebrities and and once-obscure-now-readily-available ingredients. Enter Smashburger, a great transitory restaurant for people who are ready to try something a little new without going miles outside of their comfort zones.
French fries? How about French fries with a sheen of olive oil and rosemary?
Burgers? How about on a buttered, artisan bun?
Milkshakes? How about one with the sweet, toasty flavors of bread pudding?
Companion and I have run the gamut of Smashburger’s menu items, from several of their burgers to their “smashchicken” to their salads. Smashburger, by the way, isn’t just a catchy name; it refers to the way the beef patties are “smashed” on the grill to create a juicy, evenly cooked burger that comes to you in a fraction of the time.
Popular Smashburgers include the Spicy Baja, which features an extremely generous scoop of guacamole and freshly chopped jalapeno peppers; and the Louisiana Burger, with cheese, bacon, “Cajun grilled onions” and remoulade sauce. That a Smashburger in Shreveport has a “Louisiana Burger” is no coincidence; Smashburger has a different burger for each state that they have a location. (Ohioans, for instance, can choose the “Buckeye Burger,” with fried pepper rings, haystack onions, and American cheese). Honestly, it’s nice to see something that brands itself as “Louisiana-style” without crawfish on or in it. Man, that gets old.
The Smashchickens are also a great choice; get it crispy with buffalo sauce and heaps of blue cheese, or grilled with avocado, bacon, and ranch on a multigrain bun (one of my favorites). I appreciate that the chicken breast is flattened (or “smashed,” I guess). Too often, when ordering a chicken sandwich, there’s a big, thick, dry breast sitting in the middle. (Aaand I feel like that’s the perfect segue into a “your mother has big, thick, dry breasts” joke, but I won’t. Or maybe I just did.)
Both the burgers and the chickens offer a “create-your-own” option; choose your bun and the trimmings. For 99 cents more, you can go really old school and top your burger with a fried egg; it’s said that that’s how hamburgers were served when they were still novelties.
Sides aren’t included with burgers and chicken, which is both good and bad: it costs a little more, but gives the patron the freedom to choose from Smashburger’s welcome assortment. Smashfries with olive oil and rosemary are popular, as are sweet potato fries (also with olive oil and rosemary and garlic; a smart, unexpected variation on the sugared sweet potato fries seen at places all over the country), fried pickle chips, and haystack onions. Possibly the most unique side option, though, are “veggie frites”: flash-fried carrot sticks, asparagus spears, and green beans. Flash-frying gives the vegetables a modestly crisp exterior while preserving their natural flavors and textures. The sweet potato fries remain my personal favorite, although the haystack onions run a very close second; they come in a big knot of crispy, stringy, slightly sweet goodness.
Another thing worth mentioning from Smashburger’s menu is their modest selection of hot dogs. These are real, all-beef dogs served the way mother nature intended: Chicago-style (right down to the poppyseed bun!), “Louisiana-style,” and a classic chili cheese. I have yet to find a place nearby that serves, if not specializes, in hot dogs, and Smashburger comes through for cravings. (Although, if any of you can recommend another great hot dog stand in town, please do not hesitate!)
Wine, beer, Crush sodas, and Haagen-Dazs milkshakes (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and bread pudding, another regional flavor) provide special finishing touches on a truly one-of-a-kind menu.
Foodwise, I really haven’t hit any snags with Smashburger. Their food delivers exactly what it claims it will. Unfortunately, Smashburger is nearly always crowded, with a line stretching to the door at peak times. Watch the staff, though…they’re hauling ass. Sometimes a long wait is the product of good food and word-of-mouth, not of lazy, lackadaisical waitstaff. Smashburger doesn’t bill itself as fast food, but they do strive to get your meal out in ten minutes or less, with relative success. I’d say it’s worth the wait.
7503 Youree Drive
(Coming soon to Bossier City!)