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