Smashburger – Windward

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

And you thought the burger craze was over.

Join me in welcoming the latest fast-casual burger concept de jour to Alpharetta. Metro Atlanta’s third location opened this week on Windward Parkway. You can find them in the shopping center with Einstein Bagels across the street from the HP campus.

Phil Wilkins owns the Atlanta Smashburger franchises and has plans for as many as 30 locations. Right now you’ll only find stores in Buckhead and Johns Creek. Kennesaw and Sandy Springs are next, although Wilkins told me they are looking at real estate in Cumming.

Smashburger has an interesting tradition of letting each large franchise owner create their own unique burger. For example, Chicago’s burger is served on a pretzel bun. Atlanta’s own burger features a peach barbecue sauce, pimina cheese, vidalia coleslaw and grilled jalapenos. By themselves, each ingredient is interesting. Mixed together, the combination is a pretty big mess that completely overpowers the burger itself. It would probably make a delicious sandwich without the hamburger meat.

And speaking of the burger… Smashburger gets their name from their cooking process. They take a ball of meat and smash it on the griddle for twenty seconds. The goal here is to create a sear while hopefully not squeezing every bit of juicy flavor from it. The burgers do have some sear but I would have liked more.

My biggest disappointment with the smashing is that I didn’t get to see it! If you’re going to give your restaurant a verb in the name, I want to see someone performing that verb. Sell the sizzle, right? With a closed kitchen, patrons are left to their imagination when it comes to the cooking process.

The rest of the menu contains a few chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and a salad or two. As for side items, I really enjoyed their Smashfries. These are shoestring french fries tossed with rosemary and olive oil. On my two visits this week the fries have been prepared well; crispy (even with the olive oil) yet soft in the middle. The rosemary seasoning really makes these fries shout.

Smash also offers milkshakes made with Haagen Dazs ice cream. The peach shake I tried as a sample was delicious and worth an order next time.

So after all the smashing is over and your burger is consumed, what’s the verdict on this place? It’s just an ok burger. Don’t expect some kind of transcendental experience that takes you to burger nirvana. Aside from the smashing thing, I don’t see a lot that separates this burger from many others available in this crowded market.

Disclosure: I received a free meal from this restaurant at their pre-opening event. You can read my disclosure policy on my about page.
Smashburger on Urbanspoon

7 Responses to “Smashburger – Windward”

  1. Kim September 30, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Who cares about the burgers if they have Haagen Dazs shakes. Please tell me they have chocolate too! :-)

  2. Cool Papa Bell September 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Yes another burger chain! Any Tex-Mex or fro-yo places popping up?

  3. Chris Rouse September 30, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Your review matches what my friend and I thought after going to the Buckhead/Lennox location Monday night.

    I evaluate a burger place on their basic cheeseburger. It’s easy: burger, cheese, pickels, ketchup, bun. Done. Nothing fancy to it. And there wasn’t anything fancy or all that great about my burger. It was too small for the bun (or the bun was too big for it). I also couldn’t really taste the meat. I think too much of the flavor got smashed out of it.

    My friend had the Atlanta burger. He also said that the coleslaw overpowered the rest of the burger.

    I had the regular fries and they were pretty good, but I don’t think they’re cut in-house like Five Guys’ fries.

    I’m pretty sure that when I changed what I wanted on my cheeseburger, it moved from the pre-built burger to the make-it-your-way burger, and I think it was a little more expensive that way. I may be wrong. I didn’t double check the prices.

    Good luck to them, but I don’t think they’re going to be on my list of places to frequent.

    If I want a smashed burger, I’ll head over to Steak-and-Shake where they also smash the burgers and you can watch them. And where it costs me half as much.

  4. Lee September 30, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    Chris – Very good comparison to Steak-n-Shake. I wish I had mentioned that in my review.

    I almost mentioned price in my review but didn’t. While not as stratospherically high as The Counter, this joint is expensive. Remember that this is a fast-casual concept, not a sit down restaurant. A burger, fries and drink will set you back ten bucks or so.

  5. John October 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    …crickets chirping with this one…I think we’re over burgers. Bring on something new and exciting!

  6. Greg October 5, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    Believe it or not, the next big thing is fancy hot dogs.

    Check this out:

    http://blogs.ajc.com/food-and-more/2011/09/16/hd1-to-open-pico-autentico-closes-and-more-restaurant-news/

  7. Laurie October 16, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    This place was on my radar when they invited me to the free food day. I went with co-workers and had a semi-wow experience because everyone was so friendly and helpful. They were familiar with the menu and the place was a well-oiled machine. I told my husband and we were thrilled to go back.

    Fast-forward exactly 6 days. My husband went with me, along with my 2 small girls. The waitress was quite unfamiliar with the menu, as well as with paper currency. She tried to give my all of my original money back as my change. I almost took it, but felt too guilty. After my food came out, I wished that I had kept the full refund in change.
    The chicken served to my kids was literally raw inside. Thankfully I cut it up before serving it to them. The little billy goats would probably have salmonella otherwise. My burger was (for lack of a better term) wet. Swimming in grease. The fries were as good as the first time I went there, and the pickles were tasty even though they could have been crunchier.
    My husband felt guilty for cheating on 5 Guys and swore to never return to Smashburger, when the manager on duty didn’t even offer a coupon when the kids’ food was raw.
    I work in the same complex so I have gone back again and had a black bean burger that was really, really good. I would totally get that again. And after calling and complaining to the day time manager (the business lunch manager is WAY more friendly) that my friend’s burger was missing the same ingredient for the 2nd time that she ordered it, he drove some coupons to us.
    I plan to keep giving the restaurant a chance. I haven’t tried the chicken yet, but the Black Bean Baja Burger is the best thing I’ve had on the menu thus far.

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