Smashburger in St. Anthony

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Smashburger, “the best burgers you’ve ever tasted,” are probably not going to be the best burgers you’ve ever tasted. Whether they place in the top five or top 10 or top 20 depends on your personal tastes and the depth of your burger experience, but they’re probably going to perform well: The “smashed” aspect of the burger means that it’s relatively flat and easy to eat and pleasantly carbonized — artistically burned, you could also say — by increased exposure to a hot flat grill. Contrast this to the reigning American standard bar or casual chain “neighborhood” restaurant burger: a big freakin’ rubbery baseball that shoots out geysers of drippings when you put your teeth into it. Advantage: Smashburger. The standard dried-out fast food beef wafer also fares poorly against Smashburger’s relative sophistication.

Smashburger’s 13th national location — and its first in Minnesota — is located up in St. Anthony, in a faux “Main Street”-looking shopping center that seems to have appeared from nowhere. It’s as if Zeus walked by, smote the ground with his staff, created a retail megaplex, and kept walking. Soulful? No. A fine place for a high-end burger chain? Absolutely.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The chain is shooting for a medium range price point that is well-suited to the hard times in which we live — a Smashburger meal is likely to be under $10, and a reasonable value for what you’ve paid.

The “Twin Cities” Smashburger ($6 for 1/3 lb., $7 for 1/2 lb.) is so named… well, because it has mayonnaise and onions, one might suppose? Possibly because there are two types of cheese on it? At any rate, it’s almost In-n-Out-esque, with fresher ingredients including lettuce and tomato successfully balancing out the melted Swiss, mayo, and cheddar. Onion flavor really comes through in a big beautiful way, amplified by the butter-toasted onion bun.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Classic Smashburger ($5 for 1/3 lb., $6 for 1/2 lb.) features a delightfully straightforward egg bun (just the right compromise between durability and graciously soft “give” to it) and brings the charred goodness of the meat up to the front and center. And a BBQ, bacon, and cheese sandwich ($6/$7) presents a well-stratified layer cake of flavor, the bacon registering first, then the cheese, then the tangy sweetness of BBQ.

Beyond burgers, the menu is relatively spartan, which is fine. There are shakes, malts, and split bratwurst, in case the burgers and fries aren’t enough of an arterial assualt. There are Smashfries (fries tossed with olive oil, garlic, and herbs), which are tasty even before the application of ketchup. Veggie frites ($4 or $3 with sandwich purchase) are a surprising delight — flash-fried asparagus spears, green beans, and carrot sticks hold a fair amount of their flavor and snap while still forming a perfect medium for the transportation of ranch dressing into one’s gullet.

“Best” overstates the case (please reference the Nook in St. Paul), but “Smashburger, the most satisfyingly decent if not totally ambitious burgers you’ve ever tasted” wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. And if you enjoy this kind of thing, you’re in luck: four to six more locations are slated to open in Minnesota this year.

Smashburger

Burgers in St. Anthony
3900 Silver Lake Rd
St. Anthony, MN 55421
612.252.0412
HOURS:
Daily 10am-10pm
BAR: Beer and wine
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: No
ENTREE RANGE: $5-$7

Facebook Comments

comments

James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

Visit Website

27 Comments

  1. How does it compare to Culver’s which also employs the “smash” method?

  2. Author

    A bit better than Culver’s, in my opinion — and I’m a Culver’s fan. Smashburger has a bit more meat in the patty — if there’s one thing I’d really kneecap Culver’s over, it’s being too much char and dryness. Smashburger’s got a better balance, I think. Of course, it’s a bit pricier, too.

  3. Joe Below05/08/2009Reply

    I found this review to be poorly written, off-base, and pretentious. I also ate at Smashburger, shortly after the picture in the above article was taken. I thought that while the price was certainly right (Free), the food left much to be desired. The burgers were the greasiest I have seen in a while. Your article explicitly claims that they are easy to eat. My girlfriend and I both had trouble figuring out a good way to bring the grease dripping burgers to our mouths without looking like complete greasy faced slobs. I also found the taste of the patties to be very similar to Wendy’s, and would not be surprised if they use the same source. While it is apparent that the goal is to create an atmosphere along the lines of Chipotle, it feels incredibly forced. All in all, I may stop in and give them another shot at a much later date. But considering between the burger and fries, I FEEL like I have consume a weeks worth of calories (and I am far from a health nut), I think I’ll stick to Champs for my obligitory subpar burger fix. Next time, maybe you should show up in person if you are going to write a review, because it certainly seems like you did not.

  4. Hey Joe, pardon the sanctimony, but there is a way to disagree with a review or offer your two-cents about a place without resorting to personal attacks. Suggesting that Mr. Norton didn’t eat at Smashburger before reviewing it? Wtf.

    As for the grease, where did it come from and what type of burger did you have? If it came from sloppy condiments, yuk, but if it came from the burger itself and you’re saying that the burger is nice and juicy, then yum!

  5. I agree with brian. It’s as if presenting your own dissenting view isn’t enough; why make that trip up ad hominem avenue?

    For those who have had both, how does the Smashburger stack up against the burgers kicked out by Five Guys, since both seem to occupy that middle ground between fast-food wafer-thin and sit-down restaurant exorbitance?

  6. Sounds like a less authentic (what does that mean, anyway?) Convention Grill.

  7. Yay! Yet another corporate-factory-beef hellhole catering to the deceased taste bud crowd.

    Five jackasses, and now Shitburger. It’s the revival of bad food! Jump on the train to Fatass City!

    Hopefully, and most likely, all these chainstore gas and heartburn emporiums will close down when the novelty wears off. Local and ethical restaurants are suffering because jerks like their factory beef and hormone burgers cheap and fast. Just like their lives.

  8. I’ve tried both the new St. Anthony Smashburger and the Edina Five Guys. First impressions:

    – Burger: Of the two, I would choose the Smashburger. Better burger flavor, more steak-like. Good seasoning. Better bun at Smashburger, sesame I think? Five Guys burger was still better than fast food, and I think was actually juicier than Smash, but not as memorable flavor. Five Guys had more topping choices.
    – Setting – Five Guys reminded me of a wannabe In-n-Out, missing the thick shakes. Five Guys also seemed like a big mess (peanut shells on the floor) with overcrowded seating space, while Smashburger at least was clean and better organized, and had an outdoor space (albeit overlooking the spooky strip-mall-recently-sprung-from-the-ground). Folks with peanut allergies should avoid Five Guys at all costs.
    – Fries at both locations were disappointing. At Smashburger I tried the “French Fries” (in quotes because they are called that on the menu, to distinguish them from “Smash Fries” which include garlic, herbs, and EVOO). Standard shoestring fries, but not really executed particularly well — just meh. Prefer McD’s here. Really disliked the Five Guys fries, surprisingly, since they advertise where they get each batch of potatoes. Thicker cut, cut on the spot — but greasy, soggy, and the styrofoam cup seems like an anarchonism these days. Need to see if they offer an In-n-Out-like “fries well done” option.
    – Shake. For me, a burger place like this requires a great shake. Major fail on Five Guys for not even offering a shake option! Haagen Dazs shake at Smash, didn’t try.
    – Overall, neither of the two can come close to better local burger places around the cities — Convention Grill (just 5 minutes from Five Guys), or the Nook in St. Paul. If I’m in Edina and feel like a burger, I’m definitely still driving the extra 5 minutes to CG. If I’m in St. Anthony, yeah, I would consider Smash. If I’m willing to sit down for my burger, I’d probably still drive to Bulldog NE.

    I think the key thing here is that these places are the “fast food” model with much better product. When compared to other fast-food places, both places definitely rise above. So it might be a little unfair to compare them to sit-down places like Convention Grill, the Nook, or Bulldog.

  9. Best burger I’ve had in a while. Had the massive size burger and at $7.50 meal isn’t too shabby.

  10. first off I just gotta say I think its laughable that people think a burger should or would be healthy. you should probably stick to tofu if your that worried about the extra calories.

    that being said, while being a regular at smash burger may bring you to your end much sooner, at least youll die happy cause these are some deliciously bad for you burgers! great cure for the common hang-over

  11. I just ate a smashburger and it was awesome. Also, I think “The Nook” probably gets it’s beef from the same or similar “corporate factory hellholes” as smashburger. If you want a juicy, tasty burger FAST don’t think twice about going to smashburger. If you are a snob who cares more about the pretentiousness of where it’s served or the gastronomical intricacies of a BURGER then don’t go. Simple as that.

  12. amethystlady206/12/2009Reply

    Smashburger is GREAT! Of course, being in Colorado, I am inclined to think that…but truly, they are a delicious, once in a great while, treat…and the hay stack onions, if you get them nice and hot, are to die for.

    Make up your mind for a great burger…and a new Senator…LOL…

    And how could Wendy’s even come close to Smashburger? They are miles and miles away in all aspects…YUCK…Wendy’s? ewwwwww

  13. Deb Schoenack07/04/2009Reply

    I had no idea what to expect when I saw the new Smashburger joint at the intersection of Hwy 55 and Winnetka in Golden Valley.
    Giving it a try, I was absolutely delighted and will be frequenting Smashburger often. No complaints – just kudos.

  14. Burger Bob07/09/2009Reply

    I’ve been to the GV location twice and my 1/2 lb Classic Smash was delicious both times. Fries are ordinary, the nod goes to the 5 Guys fries if I could combine strengths of the two.

    They are still working out the kinks however as a couple of friends commented that they liked their burgers while another had his cooked rare by accident and was disappointed.

    Having a good $6 burger place close by is a definite plus when a trip across town for a burger isn’t in the cards.

  15. jim moore07/26/2009Reply

    No boby mentions the great Hamburger place in Roseville. I forgot the name of it, it is acrooss the street from Golds Gym, same side as Old Country Buffet. Simple menu, and great not greasy hamburgers, and simple decore. Somewbody , what is the name of the place?

  16. jim moore07/26/2009Reply

    Don’t forget the Groveland TAp on St Clair in St. Paul. Good bar food and atmosphere.

  17. jim moore07/26/2009Reply

    I am trying to find the name of a place mentioned two posts up in Woodbury,not Roseville.

  18. American Burger Emporium is the place in Woodbury.

  19. The best burger around is the the blue door pub. St paul minnesota, off of Selby Ave.

  20. jim moore09/03/2009Reply

    Burger Jones, two things, over cooked and over priced. The french frie orders are huge, order one and split it. The staff has an attitude problem, but what can you expect for the area. Skinny guys with sullen looks and piercings and tight pants. If you want to eat there, hurry, it will be gone, the group that owns it won’t love with it if it a looser. Thanks for the name of the Burger Emporium Ryan, I’m going there for lunch today. Love there skinny french fries.

  21. Donald Whittemore05/11/2010Reply

    Smashburger IS the best burger I’ve ever tasted… so far.

    How wrong you are Joe Below…if you can’t recognize a good burger when you taste one, you stick to that cardboard at Champs.

    Smashburger has delicious burgers. They taste NOTHING like Wendy’s. To make an anaology, Wendy’s is to Smashburger as Long John Silvers is to Red Lobster. If you’re worried about looking like a slob eating at a burger joint, then perhaps burgers aren’t the way to go for you.

    Smashburger is WAY better than Culvers. Although prior to Smashburger, Culvers had my favorite burger.

    I’ve never been to the Nook, or Convention Grill, or Bulldog, but I’ll be sure to check them out! Always looking to try new burgers!

  22. Linda R. Ward05/13/2010Reply

    SmashBurger is sub-par at best. I ate at the newer Woodbury location and the food was liberally _coated_ in grease. The fries were served soaking in a pool of oil. The cheese tasted like the plastic stuff you get on cheap store-brand pizza. The burger tasted like old grease more than beef. And the service sucked as well. If you can’t figure out which table has which order when there are only _two_ tables of people in the whole place, you shouldn’t be working at a restaurant.

    All you folks talking about how “juicy” it is might want to try checking out a properly cooked steak. Juicy means there’s juices _inside_, not all over the _outside_ of the burger like it’s been dipped in the deep fryer before being slapped on the bun.

  23. this is easy! Today I ate at smashburger for the very first time, The burgers were fantastic… Best burger of any chain, taste homemade, not greesy…Every bite so tasty,could not wait till the very next bite! I hope the owners will work on the fries,I had the non-spiced fries,lets say there just fair to Midland,good chance when I go back next week I will not order the fries,this comes from a fri-freak..I would rate Smashburger, burgers a 8 out of 10 also the young staff that helped me another 8 out of 10, keep in mind I never hand out 10’s…
    Ok I will make this fast, Five Guys gets the gong!! There burgers kinda tasteless, I would rank there burgers just a pinch over the fast food chains,there fries were good,not great, but way better then Smashburger. In closing I would not make a point to drive to five guys for a burger, untill it is renamed Six Guys, because the six lil dude has the seceret formula to put the taste back into the beef.. SmashBurger here I come…..
    Scott..
    Omaha, Ne.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. […] debunks the old canard about “searing in the juices” — this time in regards to Smashburger, and Hillbilly Mint Juleps over at South 12th. var addthis_pub = “heavytable”; var […]

  2. […] Heavy Table looks at a couple of new burger joints.  Smashburger looks interesting, and if the 5 Guys in Edina is anything like the one in St. Cloud you should go.  […]

  3. […] is on 3900 Silver Lake Rd in St Anthony. I recently read a mostly positive review about it. [+] Rate this post […]

  4. […] 2009 is burger season in Minneapolis, starting with the April opening of Five Guys in Edina, then Smashburger’s St. Anthony debut in May, and now Burger Jones near the shores of Lake Calhoun. As Burger […]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*