After opening in Fairfax in October 2012, Smashburger, the burger chain that literally serves burgers "smashed-to-order," is now open in Dupont Circle. We stopped by the new location on 1739 Connecticut Ave a day before the official grand opening to sample some of Smashburger's signature burgers, sides and shakes.
Before sampling more than half a dozen burgers, we were able to try a few of Smashburger's signature sides. Can you guess what is pictured above? It's flash-fried carrot sticks and green beans seasoned with sea salt and black pepper, aka Veggie Frites! I probably would have ate more veggies as a child if Veggie Frites from Smashburger existed twenty years ago!
The Smashfries, tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic, are nicely crisp.
Sweet Potato Fries are also available.
I often talk about how I have lost interest in fried foods, but I could have ate multiple orders of these Fried Pickles.
After sampling a few sides, it was time to sample the burgers. 1 in 4 Smashburger customers order the Classic Smash, a "made-to-smash" burger topped with american cheese, smash sauce (a blend of mayonnaise, yellow mustard, pickled relish and lemon juice), ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion on an egg bun. The key to Smashburgers are the smashed burger (this process will be explained later) and the buns, which are factory cut with a water knife machine and toasted to ensure all juices remain inside the burger.
I firmly believe that bacon makes everything better, and thus preferred the BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar over the Classic Smash. Made with applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar and haystack onions and BBQ sauce that is cooked in to the burger for added flavors, the BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar burger will be one of three burgers I will rotate between when dining at Smashburger.
For the chicken lovers, chicken pounded out piccata style can replace beef on any burger. The signature Classic Chicken adds lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion and mayo to pounded chicken on a multi-grain bun.
Having grown up in CA with an avocado tree in my backyard, I am immediately sold on anything with "avocado" in the title. My love for avocado combined with my belief that bacon makes everything better means that though I plan to order different burgers during each of my future visits to Smashburger, it's going to take a lot of willpower to not order the Avocado Club Chicken (made with fresh avocado, applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch dressing and mayo on a multi-grain bun) on every single one of my visits.
In each of the major cities that Smashburger enters, they design one custom burger for the menus that is inspired by the tastes of that city. Since DC isn't exactly known for one specific type of food that could be incorporated into a burger, DC's style played a larger role than DC's culinary themes in the design of the Capital Burger. With a nod to our modern sophistication, the Capital Burger, made of grilled onions, aged Swiss, baby arugula, applewood-smoked bacon, tomatoes and mayo on a brioche bun, was created. It may just be the DC lover in me, but the Capital Burger was my favorite of the seven burgers I was able to try.
Smashburger founder Tom Ryan described the produce-free Truffle Mushroom Swiss, made with sauteed baby portabella mushrooms and aged Swiss on an egg bun, as the best $6 burger you can find. Though this was a bold statement, the burger lived up to the hype. With the truffle mayo made of 50 percent truffle oil, the flavors are strong.
The Spicy Veggie Black Bean Burger is made with fresh jalapenos, guacamole, pepper jack, lettuce, tomato, onions and chipotle mayo on a spicy chipotle bun. Anyone who didn't like spicy food was advised to remove the jalapenos before taking a bite of this burger. Though I typically can't handle too much heat in my food, I left the jalapenos on my burger, but had to sip some water after every bite.
The Black Bean Burger patty itself is made from black beans, crushed blue corn tortillas, bread crumbs, cilantro and cumin. As a meat eater, I typically don't give any attention to anything with "veggie" in the title, but I would definitely order one of Smashburger's veggie burgers in the future if I was ever feeling guilty for wanting to eat here more than once in a week. I assume this feeling will come over me very quickly.
If somehow you're not in the mood for a burger (beef, chicken or veggie) Smashburger also offers giant sized salads.
What's a Smashburger if it's not paired with hand-spun shakes made with Haagen-Daz ice cream? Available flavors include Oreo, Butterfinger and Peanut Butter and Jelly. In addition to shakes, soft drinks, root beer floats and local beers will also be offered.
Now that you know how your food and drinks at Smashburger will look and taste, you may be wondering how exactly a Smashburger is made. Well, I smashed a Smashburger just so I would be able to tell you.
First, daily shipments of 100% Angus beef are made into meatballs and stored in refrigerated drawers under the stove for easy access. The grill is then lightly buttered, the meatball is placed on the buttered grill and wax paper is place on top of the meatball.
Now comes the key step-the smashing! Using one of Smashburger's patent pending tools, you press down gently on the meatball until the smasher touches the grill, then you press as hard as you can, searing the burger and sealing in all its juiciness. The tool also flattens the meatball out to the perfect size and surface area, allowing the burger patty to be fully cooked in 2 minutes and 30 seconds, where it usually takes 6 to 8 minutes to cook through a burger.
After flattening the patty, the wax paper is removed and a generous amount of seasoning is added. Once the patty starts to bubble, it's time to flip the burger over.
Smashburger patties are flipped over with spatulas that are frequently sharpened to ensure that the meat patties can be easily lifted from the grill. A few minutes later, your patty will be ready to eat and topped with any of your ingredients of choice. After tasting seven signature burgers, we also tasted a Smashburger patty straight off the grill to see how flavorful the burger was on its own. Though I was already full from tasting the other burgers, after one bite of the delicious burger patty, I was ready to eat another.
Smashburger is open 10 am-10 pm Monday-Sunday. To stay up-to-date on the latest Smashburger news, including dates of new openings (a Germantown location will be opening soon), follow Smashburger on Twitter at https://twitter.com/smashburgerdmv. For the full Smashburger menu, visit http://www.smashburger.com.