Today marks the opening of the D.C.-area's first-ever location of Smashburger-- a Denver-based burger chain that has been not-so quietly and not-so slowly spreading like wildfire across the U.S.
The Fairfax joint, opened up to the masses at 10 a.m. this morning, but we got a preview of the spot and its grub a bit early, and also got a chance to chat with Smashburger founder Tom Ryan on his burger plans for the Capitol area.
(If there's two things you need to know about Ryan, it's that he 1) introduced Stuffed Crust to Pizza Hut and 2) brought McGriddles to McDonald's. Yup, he's a bonafide fast-food mad scientist.)
The first Smashburger
opened its doors in Denver in June 2007 and, with today's Fairfax spot, now has 173 operating around the country. It's been named the fastest growing fast-casual restaurant in the U.S. by Inc. 500 and last year Forbe's
declared it the Most Promising Company in America. With plans to have over 500 stores open in the next few years, Smashburger shows no sign of slowing down.
"We're going to have 15-20 [in the D.C.-area]," says Ryan, "DuPont Circle is next." There will be no franchises here either he says, as all the D.C.-area Smashburgers will be corporate-owned.
Smashburger founder Tom Ryan smashes burgers. Naturally.
So what are we getting with the latest burger joint to sling beefwiches in the D.M.V.?
When it comes to the burgers, don't go looking for the thickness here-- the name of the place reflects the way the burgs gets cooked on the grill. The beef, an 80/20 blend of 100% Angus chuck, starts out getting bowl chopped and then is rolled into meatballs each morning. When your order goes through, the meatballs are then placed on the grill over a thin layer of butter. And then comes the smashing. A specially-designed metal press is then, quite literally, smashed down on the meatball, flattening it to about a 1/3 of an inch thick. The burger cooks for about 10 seconds and the most beautiful sear is formed on the bottom, creating a thin, tasty crust. After a flip, the burger cooks a bit more and then is transferred to a compressed, toasted and buttered bun. (There are four to choose from-- chipotle, egg, brioche and whole wheat.)
Burgers are available in three sizes, the 7 oz. Big Smash, the regular at 5 oz. and a wee 3.2 ouncer.
The D.C.-area exclusive Capital Burger.
And, unlike some other District fast-casual burger chain we won't mention, Smashburger is showing some love to the D.M.V. bringing with them two D.C.-area exclusives: the Capital Burger and the Capital Chicken Sandwich (both topped with grilled onions, aged Swiss, baby arugula, Applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes and mayo on brioche). They've got a lineup of signature burgers too which include a BBQ sauce, bacon, cheddar and fried onion-topped number, a Club-style burg with avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch and mayo and the Spicy Baja with pepper jack, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion, spicy chipotle mayo and fresh jalapenos. Don't worry about the booze-- they'll have plenty of that too, serving up both wine and local brews.
In addition to the burgs, Smashburger also serves up hot dogs (both regular and chili-cheese), chicken sandwiches (grilled and crispy), some damn big salads, Haagen-Dazs shakes and
floats and a jam-packed lineup of sides including regular and sweet potato fries (both available straight up or Smash-style with rosemary, olive oil and garlic), chili cheese fries, fried pickles, fried onions, chili and veggie frites-- flash-fried green beans and carrot sticks.
Plain burgers start at $3.69 for the small and up to $5.29 for the big. If you opt for one of their signature creations, it'll cost you anywhere from five bucks for the regular to seven bucks for a big. There's also the opportunity to double-up the beef for $1.50, $2 or $3 depending on size.
Smashburger is now open in Fairfax, every day, from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. at 10160 Fairfax Boulevard.
Smashburger | 10160 Fairfax Boulevard | Fairfax | smashburger.com | @smashburger