First Taste: Smashburger in Tempe

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The first thing you should know about Smashburger, the new burger joint that opened today on College Ave. in Tempe near the ASU Fulton Center, is that there are several items you won't find on the menu. No, I'm not talking about secret menu items all the cooks dole out to worthy patrons who know the right terminology and secret handshakes. I mean the menu varies from state to state undoubtedly in an attempt to fulfill the fast-food chain's promise that it's "every city's favorite burger place."

The basics remain the same. The "Classic Smashburger," so named because cooks actually smash the patty down on a hot grill to sear the outside and seal in the juices, comes with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, ketchup and "smash sauce" whether you order it in Colorado or California. The same is true for the "All American" which comes equipped with less veggies and more mustard, and the "Classic Smashchicken."

Here in Arizona we have the "Arizona Smashburger" which comes with habanero cheese, guacomole, chipotle mayo and fresh jalapenos on a chipotle bun. There's also the "Arizona Cobb" and "Arizona Devil Dog" which come equipped with similar spicy toppings and guac on top. It's what we're missing that's flipping my burgers.

The "Idaho Smashburger" has potato chips. In Iowa they've got a smashburger with Maytag blue cheese and a "State Fair's Smashbrat" with applewood smoked bacon. But the biggest betrayal is what Oklahoma's got that we ain't got: fried pickles and buttermilk ranch dressing. What we do have is a little info on the low from a few of the waitresses at last night's VIP opening (yes, burger joints have VIP openings as well) that tasty items from other states may become available if enough people ask for them. I guess now's a good a time as any to do your civic duty and demand fried pickles for Arizona!

Smashburger's got a few other surprises I certainly wasn't expecting from a burger joint including flash-fried veggies, fried egg add-ons for burgers, Haagen-Dazs shakes and even a few alcoholic options for adults looking for a happy meal. The one thing we found a little disappointing was the "Haystack Onions" side item. "A big stack of thinly-sliced, crispy onions, served with dipping sauce" brought to mind an Awesome Blossom perhaps in a size smaller than artery-clogging huge. What I got was a basket of onion strings that did not retain their warmth on their ten foot journey from the kitchen to my booth. They were so thin in fact, that they collapsed on top of the dipping sauce instead of penetrating through to the spicy, mayo goodness that was begging to cover them. On the other hand, the "Smashfries" were delicious thanks to a coating of rosemary, olive oil and garlic.

Check below for a few more pictures from last night's pre-opening event at Smashburger.

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