KC has a burger for every taste
Article from Kansas City Star on burgers. Did Buddy Roadhouse get a burger named after him, note it has BBQ sauce on it ?
(B.R.G.R. Kitchen + Bar)
The Roadhouse, a juicy patty of 75/25 Angus beef topped with gooey Wisconsin cheddar, a tangle of fried onions and barbecue sauce served on a light yellow corn bun.) From high-end to low-brow, KC has a burger for every taste
In the economic downturn, burgers are one of the few bright spots.
The hamburger/sandwich/wrap category is the only restaurant category to post growth in the number of servings sold last year, and lunch contributed 48 percent of that growth, according to NPD Group, a market research company.
Experts say burgers are booming because they’re accessible, customizable, affordable and portable. An all-beef patty is also easy to gussy up or dress down, depending on your mood and the thickness of your wallet.
So if you’re slapping gristly, greasy, frozen, pre-fab slabs on the grill this weekend, don’t be surprised if family and friends grab your spatula and beat a path to one of the bright spots in Burger Town.
The nation’s fastest growing chain, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, is serving juicy burgers stacked your way. Meanwhile, high-end joints, like the locally grown Blanc Burgers + Bottles, are upping the ante with luxurious toppings, including a Kobe burger topped with a lobster tail.
Smashburger Overland Park (6551 W. 119th St.) and Lawrence (4821 W. Sixth St.), www.smashburger.com
If you think a hamburger patty is a canvas for creativity, Smashburger is for you.
A slick, modern burger joint based out of Denver, Smashburger decorates its locations with bold graphics and the comfy booths of fast, casual restaurants that cost just as much — and require a tip.
There are seven signature Smashburgers, including the Kansas City, featuring grilled onions, sauteed garlic mushrooms, Swiss cheese and haystack onions with A-1 sauce on an egg bun. Prices range from $4.99 to $6.99.
One-third or half-pound lumps of fresh certified Angus ground beef are smashed with a spatula, seared and seasoned on a grill. The irregular shaped patties peek out from the bun of your choice (classic egg, multigrain or spicy chipotle). Gourmet add-ons include applewood smoked bacon ($1.49), chili, fried egg, guacamole or garlic mushrooms (99 cents) or fried pickles, extra cheese or haystack onions (49 cents). The burgers are served in a basket lined with paper and leave just enough of a grease smudge on the table for you to know they’ll be tasty.
Shoestring-cut regular and sweet potato fries are gussied up in rosemary, olive oil and garlic. The fries were tasty, but try the veggie frites — flash-fried asparagus spears, carrot sticks and green beans — for a colorful change of pace.
Better still, you can enjoy your burger with bottled beer, a bucket of beer or wines by the glass. — JWS
Five Guys Burgers and Fries Olathe (14965 W. 119th St.), Overland Park (12025 Metcalf Ave.), Kansas City (8952 N. Skyview Ave.), Liberty (118 Conistor Lane), Lee’s Summit (614 N.E. Missouri 291), Kansas City, Kan. (1803 Village West Parkway), and Lawrence (2040 W. 31st St.), www.fiveguys.com
Hurry! Hurry! Step right up.
The burger experience at Five Guys is a bit like a day at the circus. And not just because the Obamas and their ensuing media entourage have made it so.
For starters, there’s the striking red-and-white tile décor. There’s the server bellowing out order numbers. And then there are the shell peanuts to snack on while you wait.
The burger joint got its start in 1986 in Arlington, Va. There are 616 locations in 37 states. Two hundred more restaurants are due to open in 2010. The first in our area opened in 2008 in Lee’s Summit.
Five Guys’ ground beef burgers are no-frills: single or double patties served plain, with cheese or with bacon. You can add various toppings for free, but none is what might be considered particularly “gourmet.” Prices range from $3.29 for a little hamburger to $5.59 for a bacon cheeseburger.
The thick-skinned fries come in two varieties: plain and Cajun-spiced. The fries are dunked in peanut oil, which seeps through the brown paper sack they are served in. Be sure to remove the burger from its foil wrapper ASAP, or it will continue to steam inside. The well-done burgers are juicy enough that my toasted bun went limp, and by the last bite I was left licking tasty meat juices from my fingertips.
No wonder the walls are lined with glowing reviews from magazines and newspapers from around the country. — JWS
B:2 860 W. N.W. Blue Parkway, Lee’s Summit, 816-224-9696, www.b2-burgers.com
Say it with me now: two all-beef patties, special sauce, leaf
lettuce, white cheddar
cheese, pickles, red
onions, on a sesame egg
OK, the tweaked burger’s description doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as the famed 1975 commercial the boomer generation sang as kids. But like the iconic burger it updates, the B:Mac is a sign of our food times: fresh, local and competitively priced.
B:2 is Ernesto Peralta Jr.’s approachable, affordable, family-style spin on his wildly successful upscale burger boutique, Blanc Burgers + Bottles. Peralta says he has set his sights on expanding both concepts into other Midwestern states.
While burgers at Blanc range from $7 to $21 and include luxury toppings such as foie gras butter, Berkshire ham and lobster tail, the most expensive burger at B:2 is $8.
Even if the toppings at B:2 are more in line with kids’ tastes, adults can get a nice bite out of the Summit Burger, a tasty medium-cooked burger trumped up with the tang of blue cheese and pickled red onion, with the added bite of horseradish mayo and arugula on a potato bun by local bakery Farm to Market. — JWS
B.R.G.R. Kitchen + Bar 4038 W. 83rd St., Prairie Village, 913-825-2747, www.brgrkitchen.com
The B.R.G.R. menu — pronounced as B-R-G-R, not “burger” — includes “modern adaptations” of “historical” burgers. The menu was created by Michael Slavin, a former personal chef with the Royals, and as the press release on the website indicates, the concept is designed to be franchised.
The décor is modern farmhouse meets retro diner with lots of comfort food on the menu. But burger purists will want to stick with the classics, the Big Mock, Philly, Pittsburg, Knob Hill, Tex-Az My and the Roadhouse, a juicy patty of 75/25 Angus beef topped with gooey Wisconsin cheddar, a tangle of fried onions and barbecue sauce served on a light yellow corn bun.
The beef is ground daily, and you can order a burger cooked from medium rare to well done, based on a legend denoting the number of flips involved on the grill. A side-by-side comparison found there really is a difference: The medium rare had a slightly pink center; the medium was gray through the center.
While most new burger joints have added sweet potato fries, B.R.G.R.’s are perfectly crisp, not greasy and salted, just right. Definitely some of the best around.
Nearly every burger on the menu is $8. Add a fried egg to any burger for $1. Little burgers are $6 for kids under 10.
You can also choose from a variety of beer, wine, contemporary cocktails and adult shakes. — JWS
Hamburger Mary’s 101 Southwest Blvd., 816-842-1919, www.hamburgermaryskc.com
This is my kind of summer camp: a flamingly gay diner serving up flame-broiled burgers with flamboyant toppings and a side of sass.
You don’t need the address to find Hamburger Mary’s. Just cruise Southwest Boulevard near downtown and look for a two-story building painted Barney purple.
On warm evenings the upper deck facing the street is the place to see and be seen, but for your first time, you want to venture inside for the full Mary experience. The cozy kitsch decor starts with retro modern furnishings and vintage textiles, then layers on every gay reference in the book, from posters of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn to monitors playing ABBA and Madonna music videos to the ruby red high-heel slipper that your check comes in. It’s fabulous, honey.
And what scrumptious burgers. The basic Mary ($8, including side of fries, slaw or potato salad) is a half-pound charbroiled patty on a brioche or multigrain bun with house sauce and lettuce and pickle on the side. There’s no split plate charge for sharing one, which is the way to go if you have a normal appetite.
The kitchen does everything right when it comes to charbroiling, a technique that is easier to screw up than flat grilling: The meat is juicy and smoky without the crust of burnt char that ruins many a flame-cooked burger.
And servers ask patrons what degree of doneness they prefer. That is getting harder and harder to find in the age of food paranoia, but well-done over a fire results in a really dry burger. That said, if you like a slightly pink but cooked center, ask for medium or medium-well. On one visit I asked for medium rare and got a tasty facsimile of steak tartare seared around the edges. I ate it but realized I don’t need my burger as rare as my ribeye.
The other toppings offered are as fun and fattening as specialty pizzas, featuring fave ingredients such as blue cheese, chili, mushrooms or pineapple and teriyaki sauce — if you’re looking for microgreens or avocados, you’re in the wrong place. The artery-busting entrant is the Big Johnson ($12), stuffed with jalapenos, green chilies and onions and topped with cream cheese, Swiss, jack, cheddar, bacon and a fried egg.
For a buck, you can upgrade your side to sweet potato fries, onion rings, chili or soup, all well worth it. — CH
The Pool Hall in Platte City 238 Main St., Platte City, 816-858-9989
If you are militant about smoke-free establishments, you can cross this hidden gem right off your list.
And that would be sad, because you might be missing out on a contender for best burger in the metro and hands-down the best-value burger at — ready? — $2.50. The Pool Hall’s one-third pound masterpiece is made from a hand-formed fresh beef patty seared on a 60-plus-year-old grill and topped with lettuce, onions, pickles and, only when they are in season in the area, tomato.
Old-timers swear the secret to the succulent beefy flavor of the Pool Hall’s burger is the well-“seasoned” grill, but I would add the technique itself is preferable to the sexier cooking over fire because not a drop of the precious meat juices are lost. Instead, they caramelize and get smashed back into the patty. The bartender/cooks at the hall have it down: their burger is a two-napkin juice bomb.
The sides are all frozen and deep-fried, but two are stand-outs: the Texas Toothpicks (large jalapeno and onion slivers, $2.50) and Jalapeno Bottlecaps (fat cross slices of jalapeno for all the fire without the heavy cheese camouflage of poppers).
The atmosphere is honky-tonk, straight out of a Hollywood film. The long, narrow, high-ceilinged, 100-year-old building offers pool, a jukebox, a long bar, and high and low wooden tables with an ashtray on every one — you’ve been warned.
Most of the customers are sociable locals. On one trip my companion, a smoker, was without fire, and a table of regulars took turns stopping by our table to offer a light whenever one made a trip to the restroom. Now that’s friendly. — CH
Starker’s Restaurant 201 W. 47th St., 816-753-3565, www.starkersrestaurant.com
Owner/chef John McClure’s 8-ounce lunch burger is no simple smashed patty.
For starters, he grinds a blend of filet (for delicate texture and tenderness), ribeye (for richness) and KC strip (for “a nice meaty flavor,” he says).
Each burger has two 4-ounce discs pinched together at the edges. Why? Because between the two comes a molten stuffing of brown-sugar candied bacon and Shatto Dairy cheese curds.
The result sits up on its bun like a regal brown jewel.
Some slop-conscious diners commence burger-eating by slicing the sandwich in two. That would be especially appropriate in this case, if only to control the ooze. And given the semi-liquid center, for power-lunchers a tie tuck would also be in order.
A house-made pickle and fries come on the side. With white tablecloths and a Country Club Plaza view, this burger, at $9, seems like a steal. — SP
Room 39 Kansas City (1719 W. 39th St.) and Leawood (10561 Mission Road), www.rm39.com
This reliable, small-and-fine favorite turns out reasonably priced fare at lunch, and the Room 39 Burger is no exception.
It’s an 8-ounce serving of grilled prime ground chuck, and when it arrives at your wood-top table, you’ll find the sandwich quite up to satisfying every requirement on your mental burger checklist: It’s textured, meaty, juicy and savory all at once.
Topped with a simple stack of lettuce, red onion and tomato, the $8 sandwich (with house-made fries) may be all you need (add 75 cents for a choice of cheddar, gruyere or blue cheese).
But for $2 more you can top it with a fried egg, and then you’ll be starting to swing. — SP
Webster House 1644 Wyandotte St., 816-221-4713, www.websterhousekc.com
For many of the well-appointed diners at this elegant eatery in an antique store, lunch is likely to mean salads, fine soups and knockout desserts.
But a respectable, filling burger can be had (for $11), and you can do it in casual high style while sitting, not in the dining room, but in the sunlighted, casual comfort of the bar.
The straightforward Webster House Black Pepper Burger is made of ground tenderloin and sirloin. Order it medium, and it’s likely to come out succulent and flavorful beneath a crispy, charred exterior. The trappings, besides the promised peppery edge, include a soft, buttery bun, lightly toasted on the inside; two thin slices of Swiss cheese; lettuce; and a balsamic-marinated tomato slice, with servings of mustard and house-made ketchup on the side.
A hefty serving of fries will make for a guaranteed pig-out. You can substitute soup (one recent day it was a luscious tomato-basil) for an extra couple of bucks and feel a bit less stuffed, though a little lighter in the wallet than had you gone to, say, Wendy’s, on your way back to the office. — SP
Blanc Burgers + Bottles Country Club Plaza (4710 Jefferson St.), Leawood (10583 Mission Road), www.blancburgers.com
Perhaps the most luxurious burger on the block?
Pony up for the Surf + Turf burger at Blanc Burgers + Bottles.
For $21, a thick, half-pound American Kobe patty is crowned with a 5-ounce grilled Maine lobster tail. To marry the land and sea, a tarragon aioli acts as a special sauce, while a decidedly upscale asparagus salad made from razor-thin diagonally cut stalks replaces the traditional ruffle of lettuce. Finally, it’s all stacked on a pillowy rosemary brioche bun.
The burger is new to the menu since the restaurant moved from Westport to the Country Club Plaza in February. In March, the Inside Out Burger was named best burger in Missouri by Food Network Magazine. But owner Ernesto Peralta Jr. says despite the price, the lobster burger ranks in the restaurant’s top five-sellers.
Burger fever continues to sizzle across the land, which is one reason Peralta is opening Blanc Burgers + Bottles in Little Rock, Ark., and Omaha later this year. — JWS
Posted on Thu, Jul. 08, 2010 03:38 AM
Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/07/07/2066876/burger-business-booms-in-kansas.html#ixzz0tBzzHQxm