The corner pad in the Safeway plaza at the northeast corner of 59th Avenue and Thunderbird has not been a great spot to be if you’re a restaurant.
First there was … well … I don’t remember. Then came Archie’s Deli, which had a couple year run of good sandwiches and terrible bagels (think Lenders in your grocers’ freezers but with a fresh bagel price), then a Chinese food restaurant that never actually opened its doors before being scrapped.
Now tempting fate in the location is SmashBurger. And judging by the long line on a Sunday afternoon during a playoff football game, this may be the restaurant that flexes some staying power.
Let’s start with the good …
The burgers look freakin’ awesome. On the right is the Arizona SmashBurger, served open faced so you can see the toppings are fresh down to the guacamole and fresh-sliced jalapeno. Take it from a big guy, fried pickles are all about the breading because, frankly, a pickle is a pickle. These are the best in the immediate area that I have found – none of the dripping grease you find at 5 & Diner, a touch more flavorful solo than the fried pickles at Hooters.
Sweet potato fries? Done and done well. French fries, well, are french fries. And the burger itself tasted pretty good … except …
It’s a touch greasy. Not in the “grease pooling on your plate” category, but more in the “my arteries can taste the grease right now” kinda greasy. It’s not necessarily off-putting but, even given my intermittent attempts to change my diet for the better, it was noticeable to a palette more sensitive to grease and oil.
And it’s also really, really thin … the burger looks like a monster until you realize it’s less than a 1/2-inch thick. It’s not impossible for your stomach to be bigger than your eyes in this case.
Lastly, the service. Take a quick walk across the parking lot to Chipotle and you’ll see how to handle this style of dining – line people up on one side of the restaurant, move them as quickly as possible past the two registers, get them seated, get them fed, rinse lather and repeat. We spent 15-plus minutes on line waiting for the only open register, then another 10-odd minutes waiting for the food. That’s a good thing inasmuch as you know it’s being made fresh, but you don’t go to a semi-fast food place like SmashBurger expecting sit-down restaurant wait times.
Having said all that, this could be a new guilty pleasure for those days about which I don’t tell the cardiologist. Yes, it’s a chain and some of you may be rolling your eyes at the semi-excitement over a restaurant with locations in almost 20 states. And for that, I can’t say I blame you.
All I can say is at least I’m not writing about the new Dunkin’ Donuts that opened 200 feet from SmashBurger last week in the building where Del Taco faded.
That would be over the top.