Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.
I had a marketing professor in college who asked our class the following question… “How many of you can make a better hamburger than McDonalds?” Nearly everyone in the class raised their hand. “Then why don’t you start a restaurant and put them out of business?” Okay, so the question was rhetorical. The answer was that McDonalds was all about marketing and locations. You’d never be able to compete against them, right?
Fast forward to today. I think of that goofy professor every time I see one of these high end burger joints. Actually, I think of him every time I drive by the Five Guys on Windward. They opened shop literally in the shadow of a McDonalds, and they have been killin’ it for several years now. So what gives?
The answer is that burgers are a fad now. High end burger joints have been opening in Atlanta for a few years now. I think the fad inside the perimeter is starting to wane a bit. But out here in the northern burbs, the burger craze is at its greasy peak. Just in the last week another burger joint opened in Johns Creek.
Here is my review of the higher end stuff. If dropping a ten spot on a grease sandwich isn’t your bag, don’t fret. I’ll wrap this post up with some cheaper burger options that are delicious and relatively unknown.
Probably my favorite of the newer joints to open. This aspiring chain restaurant cranks out some seriously delicious charcoal burgers. I don’t know of anywhere else in the northern burbs cooking over hardwood charcoal right now. The meat is juicy, smokey and wonderful. The fries are fresh cut and the onion rings are to die for. Drawbacks are price and service.
I’m too sexy for your suburb. This is an uber-trendy bar/restaurant that somehow got lost in Johns Creek. They probably belong in Midtown somewhere. And while burgers are not really their thing, the burger here is amazing. They hand-form patties out of sirloin and brisket. The coarse cracked peppercorn coating makes the thing taste like steak au poivre on a bun.
Roswell has the only Georgia location of this California-based chain. Their deal is the build-your-own custom burger. The topping choices are way over-the-top. Gruyere cheese, grilled pineapple, fried egg, cranberries, apricot sauce… on a burger? Yeah, they got all that and a lot more.You can go overboard on toppings here, so be careful. They will also under-cook a burger, if that is your thing.
I enjoyed my burger here. The fires and onion straws left a lot to be desired. This place is also insanely expensive. I could take my family to Longhorn for what I spent here.
Another chain from out west. I used to eat at Red Robin when I traveled to Seattle. Was excited to see them open a store near me at the Avenue Forsyth. Now that they’ve been open a few years novelty has worn off. This place lacks the sophistication of the places above. They are more of a family atmosphere chain joint with huge burgers. I dig the unlimited steak fries although they are usually undercooked. And even though Red Robin is cheaper than the high end joints, I still feel like they overcharge relative to the burger product they’re putting out.
I’ll admit that I haven’t been here yet. They just opened a location in Johns Creek near Kohls. From what I’ve read, they sound like a cross between Five Guys and Fuddruckers. The burgers are supposed to be similar to Five Guys in quality and price, but the toppings are added like you’d do at Fuddruckers. It will be interesting to watch this place, considering that a Five Guys location is just a tad north on 141. There are also other burger joints along 141 in Johns Creek and south Forsyth that I haven’t reviewed (BB’s Best Burgers, Hangry’s, Ted’s, etc). Johns Creek is saturated with hamburgers. I don’t think all these places will survive.
…on the low end
So have you had enough of the hoity toity burger? Fear not. If you hunt around you’ll find some decent joints serving up traditional burgers on the cheap. I’ll bet you’ve not heard of half of these places.
A burger like you’d make it at home. Just simple, hand made patties served with buttered and grilled sandwich bread. Simple, easy and quite delicious. This place is real similar to a now-closed joint called Burger House (Windward and Hwy 9 near Taco Mac). There is no decor to speak of, nothing fancy and no over-the-top ingredients. Just a simple burger on delicious bread at a cheap price.
Here you’ll find a local/blue collar crowd that is far removed from what you’d see at Kozmo’s. I liked my Mulligan burger and I liked the tater tots. And the food service chicken fingers are surprisingly good. Cheap!
Garden Spot Cafe – Windward/Alpharetta
The ultimate hidden restaurant. This one-man operation is located in an office park across the street from Lexis-Nexis/Choicepoint and a block off Windward. It is small, a tad on the dirty side, greasy, fast and very cheap. The prices are less than fast food for a decent burger and fries. I swing by from time to time if I’m in a hurry and want something to bring back to the cubicle. For the money, it is hard to beat.