I had the pleasure of attending a pre-opening event at Smash Burger San Jose (located in the Westgate Shopping Center, where they have a cool Mommy and Me program) yesterday and I took so many pictures that I really could post days and days of Smash Burger Food posts. Before the event, I had never heard of Smash Burger, so I’m glad I was able to attend the pre-opening of their 241st store. Apparently, they’re one of the fastest growing food chains in a while (they even have four international locations already) and are working to open several location between San Jose and San Francisco within the next 1-2 years. Also within that time, they may open up a drive-thru location (for all us mamas wanting quality food while trapped in the car), and more East Bay locations later on (this is what I’m waiting for).
What is Smash Burger? The name comes from how they make their burgers. Unlike most burger chains, they use fresh, never frozen 100 percent Angus beef. They portion and ball up the meat daily, butter up the grill, place a ball of beef up, then wax paper and their smasher. To properly “smash” the meat, you need to press the smasher against the grill and hold it for 10 seconds. (Smashers are for sale at the San Jose location for something like $300!)
This method pushes the juices up, instead of out, and it isn’t easy to do. I tried my hand at this and didn’t seal the smasher around the meat properly for a good sear. But considering that the cooking staff at Smash Burger perfected this over a period of weeks before yesterday’s event, I don’t feel so bad. After searing the meat is the easy part — sprinkle on the secret Smash Burger seasoning. Then comes the second hardest part — dig under the sear to scrape it up and flip the burger. I didn’t dig under enough and ended up leaving the seared portion of my meet on the grill. Smash Burger cooks make 80-100 of these patties an hour at 2-3 minutes each (and keep the sear on)!
Like In N’ Out Burger, Smash Burger offers milk shakes and a secret menu, and similar to Five Guys, you can mix and match the burger toppings and types to create your own. But, what really makes them unique is that they’re meat is fresh and smashed to hold in the juices. Honestly, I have always loved In N’ Out, but I don’t care for their meat anymore, and like having a variety of burger options. My daughter loves the peanuts at Five Guys, and I love the burgers, but we always have stomach aches after. If Smash Burger opens up some drive-thru locations they will definitely become the number one pick for a lot of families.
They’re a chain, but the different locations all have their own sauces and special burger based on their region. In the Bay Area, our regional burger includes truffled mayo, baby arugula, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and smashburger sauce on a ciabatta bun. Plus, they have Cherry Coke (something very hard for me to find) and offer chicken sandwiches, premium add-ons (like fried egg!), generously portioned salads, chilled root beer floats, beer, and Honest T.
There’s a lot to say about Smash Burger, but my favorite items are the PB&J milkshake (from the five-item secret menu), Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Malt, Smash Fires (tossed in rosemary, olive oil, and garlic), Veggie Frites (a delicious way to get the kids to eat carrot sticks and green beans), and the burgers (especially BBQ and Sin City).
Though the chicken sandwiches are the best I’ve had (they’re smashed for juiciness and so that the bite isn’t as thick, allowing the seasoning to apply evenly over the meat) I just prefer the burgers. The smashed beef is so delicious that I even liked it plain, just after it came off the grill.
Overall, I LOVED the taste and variety of the food, but I also really liked the beverages available, the prices (About $6 per premium sandwich and $5 for kids meals), and courteous service. If you didn’t already know, I’m also very particular about restaurants being clean, and both the guest eating area and behind the scenes cooking stations were pristine during my visit. I will definitely be traveling the two hours or so it takes me to drive to this location again, and I’ve already signed up for their Smashclub (it gets you discounts and a free milkshake on your birthday).
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