In my honest opinion a burger is about as gourmet as a hot dog and therefore when all these new age, “Hipster,” burger joints broke onto the foodie scene I was skeptical. Since I am a food network fanatic, which should be expected considering I write a food blog, I waited for the crowds to die down at Bobby Flay’s Burger Palace located in the new Bergen Town Center, and gave Mr. Flay’s burgers a try. Since that moment many months ago, I have been a fan of these boutique burger eateries, and I will try any and all of them that come to town.
First to weigh in, is the Grandfather of these epicurean Burger peddlers, Fuddruckers. I am a loyal guy when it comes to food establishments and furthermore as Kat will tell you I am also quite nostalgic so I have to at least mention the first great burger franchise in the area. Even though Fuddruckers has been around well before I was chewing solids they still deliver a decent burger plus all the fixings. Fuddruckers advertises that they are the world’s greatest burger and although I am not on this band wagon anymore, there was a point in my life where I believed this slogan.
Fuddruckers has a pretty extensive menu which offers the Original Fudd in 1/3 pound $4.65, ½ pound $5.50, 2/3 pound $7.50, and 1 lb. $9.50, as well as some serious specialty burgers, for $1.75 more, like the Southwest which is topped with smokehouse bacon, guacamole and pepper jack cheese or for fans of exotic meats some of the Fuddruckers are even starting to offer Buffalo, Elk, and Wild Boar burgers in an attempt to compete with the new burger places that we will discuss a little later. Fuddruckers also offers something that I have not found at any of the other burger bistros, a self-serve toppings bar that allows the customer to add as much or as little of the dozens of toppings that Fudds offers. Additionally, Fuddruckers has a full service bar featuring beer, wine, and spirits which is a huge plus in the ever growing burger trade.
Fuddruckers is by far the best burger place in this article for a family to go to grab a much needed burger when you just don’t have the energy to spark up the grill. The kids can much on some memory making meals while soaking in the kid-friendly atmosphere while you take a ride down memory lane with a Fuddrucker burger in one hand and a frosty beer in the other.
2. Bobby’s Burger Palace: Bergen Town Center Paramus, NJ 07652
Bobby Flay’s Burger Palace was the first of the new wave of Burger spots to break into the Bergen county market when the Bergen Town Center was renovated. As I stated earlier, I did not expect much from this establishment, but I was happily surprised. I was hesitant to believe that a world renowned chef like Bobby Flay could dive into the burger market and make a difference. Mr. Flay apparently left a lasting impression on many Bergen County residents, including me, because his simple burger shop is still crowded every time I drive by.
The Burger Palace offers a selection of high-end burgers such as the Bobby Blue Burger, topped with Blue Cheese, Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato for $7.75, The Dallas Burger topped with spices, coleslaw, Monterey Jack cheese, BBQ sauce, and pickles for $7.75, or the L.A. Burger topped with avocado relish, watercress, cheddar cheese, and tomato for $7.75. Bobby Flay’s cooking style truly comes out in these creations, which are not overly seasoned, yet are simply bursting with flavor.
One issue that I had with Mr. Flay’s offerings is that the burgers are sold separately from the fries and onion rings, which always irks me about these restaurants. In a perfect world I could order a meal that would combine a burger, a side, and a drink for one price instead of attempting to do math in my head to find out if I have enough cash on me for a true dinner, but alas our world is not perfect. Fortunately, however Bobby’s Beer Battered Onion Rings are! When John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings, he must have been envisioning these tasty deep fried morsels of yummy, which are a must try if you step into the Burger Palace.
In summation, Bobby’s Burger Palace offers simple yet divine Hamburgers at a price that will make some blue collar foodies blush. Their seating style is strange to say the least and may have you sitting next to, or at the same table as, strangers so for the sanity of all who are trying to enjoy their food be aware of bringing your wee ones to join in the cowgasm that Bobby Flay is serving at his Burger Palace.
3. Smashburger: 556 Rte. 17 North, Paramus, NJ
Smashburger boasts that every Smashburger menu is specially crafted to reflect the tastes and flavors of your city or state, which I have to admit sounds very intriguing. Upon further review, it appears that only one burger on the menu seems to change as I searched through all of their menu’s online but the state specific specialty burgers almost makes me sad I went on a road trip before I knew about the Smash.
Smashburger offers a classic burger of course, but let’s be honest if you are like me those burgers are merely on the menu for the unadventurous people we bring with us to try out a new foodie find. The specialty burgers are really where it is at which feature the New Jersey Burger is piled with applewood smoked bacon, blue cheese crumble, grilled onions, haystack onions, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on an onion bun for $7.19, the Spicy Baja consists of pepper jack cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion, spicy chipotle mayo and fresh jalapeños on a spicy chipotle bun for $7.19, and of course a few more premade specialties. But Smash also offers the option to create your own craziness with your choice of buns, toppings, and cheeses, which permits you to craft seemingly endless burgers formations, as you strive to reach meatphoria.
Smashburger also offers a plethora of side dishes that you can opt to add to your burger, for a nominal fee of course. They have SmashFries in original or sweet potato for $1.99, that are tossed with rosemary, olive-oil and garlic, and are a great addition to any of their burgers and my suggestion for your Burger’s Robin. They do offer Fried Pickles for $2.29, which I am usually Pepe Le Pew style in love with, which did not impress me. I felt that they were a tad over salted, and I just could not get into them.
Where Bobby Flay’s burgers were simple, Smashburger’s burgers are complex. I feel it would take dozens of visit’s to this eatery to find and refine my go to burger, which for me is tremendous because I love to eat new and exciting meals, but for some I could see it being slightly overwhelming, I am looking in Kat’s direction as I write this sentence. Once you do finally order your burger concoction, I do not think you will be disappointed because everything I have eaten at Smash has been fantastic. Smash is slightly more kid friendly than Mr. Flay’s establishment but still not anything close to Fuddruckers. The last thing I feel I have to report, as a native New Jerseyan, is that I was slightly disappointed that the New Jersey Burger was lacking Taylor Ham, but I guess if Snooki does not eat it on the Jersey Shore then it must not exist.
4. Boom Burger: 375 W.Passaic St., Rochelle Park, NJ.
When this place first started to make waves in the foodie realm, I thought nothing of it. I figured it was merely just another burger joint jumping on the bovine bandwagon. As the Boom craze picked up speed and word continued to spread, I decided to go check it out. After one visit to Boom, I figured out why everyone simply could not stop jib-jabbering about how incredible Boom Burger was. Their top-secret ingredient to their success is their booze. Don’t get me wrong their food is rather special too, but what separates Boom Burger from the ever growing crowd of chic burger spots is the fact that Boom Burger is firstly a colossal bar and secondly they have remarkable burgers.
Boom Burger offers several specialty burgers that include the Boom Burger, which is described as an explosion of cheese in your mouth due to the fact that the cheese is on the inside of the Burger for $8.00, the Cuban which is topped with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and mayo for $7.00, the Breakfast Burger topped with Taylor Ham, Fried Egg, and American Cheese for $7.00, and a few other fancy looking burgers as well. Boom Burgers shtick with their burgers is that they are cooked to perfection every time, which means you cannot order them at any other temperature, which annoyed me slightly, but only because I am a control freak. Boom Burger also seems to be the only Burger Joint that uses Pat LaFrieda’s or “the master of meat’s” special burger blend, which I am apparently a fan of.
Boom Burger offers a few sides to pair with their burgers which include French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, and Parmesan & Rosemary Fries at a nominal fee yet again. They also offer a variety of bar style foods like Chicken Fingers, Chicken Wings, and Fried Calamari to name a few, which can be eaten as an appetizer or paired with your burger choice as well.
If BoomBurger and SmashBurger had a blind taste test I would have a hard time telling their food apart and then I would go to BoomBurger to grab a beer and celebrate the contest. What I am trying to say here is that what this battle comes down to is the libations that Boom offers which Smash is lacking. Not only does Boom offer a respectable beer list but their insanely large signature drinks definitely inspire some wonderful conversations. Not to mention the fact that Boom has giant televisions strewn about the restaurant which are always showing all the premiere sporting events.
When all is said and done, each of these Burger Boutiques caters to different clientele and has found their own niche. They all serve up fantastic food at about the same price, so it all matters on what type of atmosphere you are looking for. The following is a quick and easy guide that should help you make your decision:
- If you have children and want a good old fashioned hamburger Fuddruckers is the place for you and your family.
- If you are looking for a “gourmet” Burger and need to do some shopping but don’t mind cozying up to some strangers, Bobby’s Burger Palace is where you should go.
- If you want a burger that is smashingly good but don’t really want to have to deal with the cast of Jersey Shore taking JagerBombs at the table next to you, SmashBurger is your spot.
- If you want to wash a fantastic burger down with some beers and watch the baseball game while crazy twenty-somethings take body shots off one another, I will see you at BoomBurger.