Smashburger, Tonyburgers, Dick's Drive Inn 

Bun Voyage: The quest for Utah’s best burger goes on, near and far.

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Burger mania continues. As an embed in the local burger wars over the past couple of years, I’ve written about new burger joints such as Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Salt City Burger Co., Flippin’ Burgers in Park City and the recently shuttered Counter Custom Built Burgers at The Gateway. I’ve also investigated the burgers of Davis County—having struck pay dirt at places like Burger Stop, Pace’s and Burger Bar—and nibbled on “gourmet” burgers at Acme Burger Company and beyond. When the smoke clears, the buffalo sliders at Metropolitan are hard to top. But, so far, the best burger I’ve tasted is the Spruce burger at Spruce restaurant in Park City. However, that’s a $16 burger!

Hard economic times always are accompanied by a sentimental return to “comfort” food, and the holy hamburger certainly counts as that. In rough waters, we tend to throw caution to the wind, forget about fat and calories and look to the fond foods of childhood for solace. Hence, the onslaught of new, retro-style, burger emporiums.

The irony is that most of these places aren’t exactly retro in price. The $16 burger at Spruce notwithstanding, at most of the new burger joints a cheeseburger, fries and soda will set you back $8 to 10 or more. Hell, you can get a sit-down lunch at Metropolitan for only a couple more bucks. Feeding a family at a place like Five Guys can put a serious dent in the dining budget.

There are burger fiends I know who won’t be happy until In-N-Out Burger is open along the Wasatch Front, which will happen when the Orem and Draper locations open the week before Thanksgiving. Until then, and probably after, the quest continues.

Smashburger—a Denver-based burger chain—opened here with much hoopla. Free burgers rained down on the City Weekly office staff, as well as civilians, as Smashburger’s marketing team took to the streets to create a burger buzz. Personally, I waited for the buzz to die down before visiting Smashburger—and then wondered what all of the buzz was about in the first place.

Here’s the deal at Smashburger: The burgers are made from 100 percent Angus beef (You know that’s just a brand name, right? McDonald’s also serves Angus beef.). They are smooshed (smashed, actually) onto the grill to flatten them out, lightly seasoned and served on what’s called an “artisan butter-toasted bun.” The Smashburger comes in two sizes: 1/3 pound (before cooking) and 1/2 pound, priced, respectively at $4.99 and $5.99. The burger comes standard with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and “smash sauce.” I asked for pickles on the side and no ketchup, but got both on my burger, from a server who twice called me “hon.” It’s creepy to be called “hon” by someone at least 10 years your junior, but I suspect Smashburger servers are trained to do that. It’s just so retro.

A Smashburger is a perfectly good hamburger—but not, in my book, worthy of the $5 price tag. However, if you like the fries at McDonald’s, you’ll like those at Smashburger ($1.49), too; they’re virtually identical. Add a soft drink ($1.69) and tax to your quarter-pounder and you’re looking at a bill that tops $9.

It’s interesting that Tonyburgers in Centerville advertises itself as offering “famous burgers and salads,” considering it has only been open a few months.

However, Tonyburgers might just become famous—they’re darned decent burgers. Although clearly designed with franchising in mind, Tonyburgers is, at present, a one-off. When I asked the owner if he were Tony, he replied, “No, I named the restaurant after my little brother.”

Tonyburgers reminds me a lot of Five Guys Burger & Fries, insofar as the menu is very limited (focused, I guess they’d call it). There are a handful of salads available, and pretty good ones at that for a fast-food joint: Caprese, iceberg lettuce T-wedge, spinach and Gorgonzola, and an apples and walnuts salad. Aside from salads, there are burgers, shakes, sodas, fries and a kids’ menu of hot dogs, mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets.

As for the Tonyburgers, they come as either a single patty ($3.75) or double ($5.75), along with optional American, Swiss or Cheddar cheese ($.59) and free toppings: lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, jalapeños, mayo, ketchup, mustard, grilled onions, hickory barbecue sauce or Tony Sauce (fry sauce). Bacon is 75 cents extra. The single burger consists of a beef patty that I’m told is ground and hand-formed each morning, and never frozen. The patty is about one-third of an inch thick, grilled and served on a very soft bun. I asked for mine with pickles on the side and didn’t get them. Aside from that, I’d rate the burger about an A-minus; while the Tonyburgers fries ($2.49) get an A-plus. At Tonyburgers, french fries are treated with the respect they deserve. They’re skin-on, Russet potato fries, cut thin, blanched in water, spun dry, then cooked in peanut oil, removed, allowed to sit, and then cooked a second time. They are stupendous fries. The $3.99 milkshake seemed a tad extravagant, however.

Still, for the best burger of the bunch, you’ll need to visit Dick’s Drive Inn in Kamas. The burgers ($3.40) taste like they’re cooked in grease with a vintage circa 1956, and I say that with much love. ’Nuff said.

Smashburger
2100 S. 1028 East,
801-478-0158 3513 S. 2700 West, West Valley City,
801-988-4613
Smashburger.com

Tonyburgers
331 Parrish Lane, Centerville
801-298-3644
Tonyburgers.com

Dick’s Drive Inn
235 E. Center St., Kamas
435-783-4312

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