A couple months back, Smashburger debuted in the Stonecrest shopping center in South Charlotte. There is no lack of dining options around Stonecrest with choices ranging from the upscale (Dean & Deluca, Firebirds, Cantina 1511, Miro) to casual (Qdoba, Anzi, Flying Biscuit) throughout the complex but the fast and casual atmosphere of Smashburger is an ideal fit for this hotspot just down the road from Piper Glen. Smashburger snagged an ideal location off a small arboretum beside Stonecrest's fountains. On almost any night you can find children scampering about the broad patios while parents and couples enjoy a glass of wine and their dinner to the accompaniment of live jazz or rock music.
The family and I dropped in on a weeknight while out running errands and decided to check out the Denver-based chain. The interior is bright with metallic tables, sharp lines and vibrant colors backing the signs and menus. Their schtick is taking fresh Angus beef and smashing it down on the grill and then searing the juices into the patty so the meat stays moist and succulent. Ingredients are definitely a step-up from most chains with offerings like artisan buns (Classic Egg, multi-grain, spicy chipotle), add-ons (fried egg, Applewood bacon, garlic mushrooms) and a laundry list of free sauces and toppings. You can build your own or go with one of the well-crafted signature choices. The menu also includes salads, chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, hot dogs and choices for kids.
I went with the Mushroom Swiss signature burger, the Missus and Mommy's Little Monster road-tested a cheeseburger. We sat outside to enjoy the nice weather and our food arrived within 5 to 10 minutes of ordering.
Judging by the plumes of steam drifting up from the patty, my burger spent no time under a heat lamp. A smear of mayo, not too much and not too little, covered the egg bun and a sparse smattering of garlicky mushrooms sank into the melted cheese blanketing the beef. The meat was juicy through and through with a nice salty flavor and just the right amount of grease seeping into the artisan bun. My only qualm was the meager amount of 'shrooms. I love mushrooms and these were tender and tasty and I wanted more.
The Missus gave her cheeseburger the thumbs-up as well. She asked me to keep this off the record but she said something about the taste reminded her of a McDonald's cheeseburger. She meant that in a good way. She also knows nothing is off the record when you live with a writer. I could see what she meant- the tenderness and creamy texture did remind me of Dirty Ronald's burgers but at Smashburger there was no guilt or question over what exactly you were ingesting.
Mommy's Little Monster said little more than "Delicious" and "More ketchup, please" which we consider a victory in our household.
We fed a family of three on $20 which is pretty impressive for the area.
Is Smashburger the best burger spot in the Queen City? No. More along the middle to upper edge of the pack. Big Daddy's still gets my vote. But it is certainly a better choice than Dirty Ron's or the King or the Colonel and a welcome addition to the profile of eateries in Stonecrest.
I say go give them a try and decide for yourself then let us know what you think about Smashburger in the Comments Section.