The Smashburger “Favorites” Menu is For Idiots
The popular Colorado burger chain Smashburger has invaded Los Angeles, generating the requisite amount of excitement from this burger obsessed city. And while there are some who may have enjoyed a BBQ, bacon and cheddar burger on a trip to Denver, the chain is mostly foreign to these parts. So when a new location popped up in my home neighborhood of Culver City (on Venice and Overland) I entered with a completely open mind, and a hungry stomach.
When your walk in, your eye is naturally drawn to the “Our Favorites” menu, which contains what one would assume are the most popular or recommended menu items. But here’s the thing. The first two items on that menu (the “Classic Smashburger” and the “All American Bacon Cheeseburger”) are for total idiots. After two visits and some serious menu studying, I believe I have discovered some pretty large menu loopholes. Now, mind you, I’m not saying Smashburger is bad. On the contrary, it’s actually pretty great. They get a great crust on the burgers by (you guessed it) smashing them on the griddle and their menu features the kind of toppings that have made Five Guys and Fatburger so popular. But I’ve checked and double checked the numbers, run the stats through various ordering models and come to the conclusion that ordering one of those two burgers might be the dumbest move at Smashburger (despite being recommended as a “favorite” by the menu.)
The burger menu at Smashburger is divided into two options. The first is to create your own burger. For $5.29 you get a regular burger, with American cheese on an egg bun. Sauces (ketchup, mustard, mayo, smash sauce, spicy chipotle mayo, bbq sauce, ranch) and toppings (lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, grilled onions, jalapenos) are all free. They also have premium toppings that can be added for $1 each, like applewood smoked bacon, fresh sliced avocado, guacamole, fried egg, or grilled mushrooms. If you’re a fan of Five Guys you won’t like paying for your grilled mushrooms, but the avocado, guac and fried egg should make up for that, even though they’re extra. There are shoestring fries for $1.99, and you can get the same fries covered in olive oil, rosemary and garlic for 30 cents extra (although if you’re expecting a ton of garlic flavor or don’t want a pool of oil collecting below your fries you’ll want to stick with the regular.) There’s also a solid, but nothing special, version of sweet potato fries for $2.49 and haystack onion strings for $2.29- but we’ll get to those later.
If the idea of choosing your own toppings is a bit daunting, they have 7 different already created burgers for you to choose from. All of them are $5.99, except for the $5.29 “Classic”- which makes sense because all of the toppings on the “Classic” are free if you create your own burger. But here’s where the loophole comes in. All of the signature burgers are $5.99, only 70 cents more than the Classic. All of those burger contain premium ingredients (some of them, more than one!), so unless you want nothing but free toppings, adding any premium items to the classic or building your own burger will end up costing you more than just ordering a signature burger and tailoring it to your taste.
Take the “Avocado Club” burger, which comes with fresh avocado, applewood smoked bacon and then a bunch of free ingredients (lettuce, tomato, ranch, and mayo on a multi grain bun). If you wanted avocado and bacon on your burger anyway, ordering it ala carte would have cost you $2. But on this signature burger it only costs you 70 cents extra. And you are free to swap out the sauce, or add/subtract any of the other free toppings you want- like grilled onions. The only kink is that cheese comes free when you create your own burger, but to add it to the Avocado Club it costs 70 cents, cutting your savings to about 60 cents. But if you don’t care about cheese you’re saving a full $1.30. Money that could be spent on… a fried egg! (Watch and learn people.) Are you with me so far, because the All American Bacon Cheeseburger is even worse.
The “All American Bacon Cheeseburger” (also $5.99) comes with applewood smoked bacon, cheese, mustard, ketchup, pickles, and onions on an egg bun. Why is this an even dumber order? Because if you scan down the menu to the “BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar” burger, you’ll find that for the same price you not only get applewood smoked bacon and cheese on your burger, but you also get haystack onion strings as well, plus BBQ sauce.
FOR THE SAME $5.99. Don’t like BBQ sauce? They’ll swap it out for something else. Want the mustard, ketchup, pickles, and onions that come on the “All American Bacon Cheeseburger”? All that stuff is free and can be added to the “BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar” burger. Basically what I’m saying is, anybody who orders the All American Bacon Cheeseburger is saying “I don’t want free onion strings.” And that’s just stupid. Who doesn’t want free onions strings? What are we? Communists?
So how are the actual burgers? Good. Recommended if you’re sick of Fatburger, or like Five Guys but wished they had avocado as a topping, and shoestring fries. Want a full burger and fries lunch to cost $5 and only care about cheese and grilled onions? You’ll probably stick with In N Out. Like to order your burgers medium rare? This isn’t going to do it for you. But if crust is your main concern, this is their specialty. They also have chicken sandwiches, salads, veggie fries, and Haagen Dazs but we’ll leave that review to the kind of bloggers that like eating those things. Well, except the Haagen Dazs shake. Because, quite frankly, how could we not?
After all, we did save $1.30 on our burger.
- 10704 Venice Blvd, Culver City
- 650 N. Moorpark Rd., Thousand Oaks