STACKED - Torrance - New South Bay Restaurant Review
So, my wife and I were walking to the Del Amo Mall in Torrance, when we saw this new restaurant opening up under the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley and across from P.F. Changs.
The name is called STACKED and their slogan is FOOD WELL BUILT.
We were peaking through the windows because there were Apple iPads on every table and then a gentleman came out the front door and invited us in for a free lunch as they were in training and were planning on opening up the following week. We went in (because who would refuse a free lunch, right?) and they were taking donations for the Cystic Fibrosis charity. I thought this may have been a chain but I'm told by management that this is their first location but they are looking to expand further with locations in Cerritos and San Diego.
I'm not sure where to begin... so, I'll start with the iPads. Basically, this is the menu. You scroll through the various offerings (burgers, pizzas, salads, shakes, sausages, cookies, ice cream sandwiches) and drag the pictures of the food and all the customizations (also shown with pictures) you want onto your order. I suppose what makes this place somewhat unique is that everything on the menu is extremely customizable. They break down burgers into buns... and they have a great selection (more on that later) to the type of patties, toppings, condiments, etc. The breakdown all the other offerings (salads, shakes, etc) into multiple components for your choosing. If you're really indecisive or computer illiterate, it'll probably take you a long time to decide. So, they do have pre-built suggestions (that you can still customize). I'm told that the price will fluctuate depending on the options (but since this was a training day, all the prices read zero) but a burger should be around 8-12 dollars. The manager told me the burgers will be less expensive than the Counter's.. Once you're done with the order, you click... send to the kitchen and then a server will bring it to your table.
My wife and I choose to order burgers, fries, and shakes.
I ordered an angus burger on pretzel bread (I couldn't decide between that or the Brioche which also looked great) with a shallot mayo (they had several mayos), green leaf lettuce (they had 3-4 lettuce options) , tomato ketchup (several other condiment options), sauteed mushrooms, bacon, sharp cheddar cheese (5-6 cheese options), avocado, caramelized onions, and onion straws. The burger assembled was probably a loose 6-8 inches tall and the bun/patties where slightly larger than a dvd's diameter. The bacon was crisp. I have to tell you the pretzel bread was killer. Perfectly griddled on one side for a nice crunch. The bun did not disintegrate like so many other places. The patty (for the burgerbusters reviewers) did not have a heavy sear. I ordered my burger medium and it came out as I ordered. There were probably 20 other options for the burger and could've changed this burger up (even made it a double patty or triple patty, I think). I enjoyed my burger.
My wife ordered a turkey burger on whole wheat with ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and avocado. She really enjoyed her burger and offered me a bite but I knew I would barely be able to finish my burger.
We also ordered the cheese fries (after going back and forth between the sweet potato fries). The cheese was melted sharp cheddar. I thought the fries were just okay. They were a bit limp and I generally like a bit more crunch to hold up against the gooey cheese. You get to pick which condiment the fries are served with.
The shakes were also customizable. I believe you had a choice between 5 flavors (strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and I think one other flavor). I had a vanilla shake with bananas and marshmallows and whipped cream. They serve it with a boba-sized straw. I enjoyed my shake. I thought the whipped cream looked a bit limp (it looks like fresh whipped cream though). My wife ordered a chocolate shake with bananas, strawberries, and marshmallows. I thought her shake was way too sweet (like land a diabetic in the hospital sweet).
I think they're still working out the kinks. There was an error in my wife's shake (she ordered no whipped cream) but they corrected that immediately. A couple sitting to use ordered salads and had a bunch of things put on the side but they didn't come out immediately with the salads (like blue cheese crumbles, etc). The steak salad looked nice.
The servers were very nice. They offered us some free fresh baked cookies but we were already stuffed and nearly in a food coma. The cookies (which you can also get mixed into your shake) looked good and you can apparently have custom ice cream sandwiches built to your liking.
I wished I remembered that my wife had our camera in her purse, since I would've liked to have shown you what the burger looked like. I suppose you'll have to see for yourself. I do plan on returning as a paying customer, if just to have another burger on the pretzel bread (they said they get their buns from Guilliano's bakery).
This place reminds me most like the chain, the Counter, only with way more nonburger options. I would probably choose Stacked over the Counter (even though I love that the Counter offers Gruyere cheese).
3525 W. Carson Street
Torrance, CA 90503
Nice write up and interesting concept. I'm guessing those IPads are nailed down and super-glued to a stick of sensor-triggered TNT. :) Your burger sounds like the stuff of stuffed eating legends. As much as I appreciate The Counter's concept and their general offerings and wine/beer lists that rate higher than one would expect at a burger joint, the one thing I've found kinda weak there is their burger meat - kinda flat in flavor. How would you rate Stacked's burger meat?
Thank you, Bulavinaka.... one would think this restaurant would chain down the iPads.... but they just have some clunky plastic device that covers them... I bet you it has some type of alarm on it if it's taken out of the place...or maybe it deactivates. I'm not sure.... It'd be great if you could take it home as a "to-go" menu. ;)
I think the burger meat itself was just average. I'd have to try it again to really be certain since I was somewhat distracted by the unusual ordering system and the fact it was a free meal.
For comparison though, I enjoyed the burger meat at Golden State more. I don't think the Counter's burgers are are terrible. My biggest issue with the Counter is that I find their buns disintegrate and if you order the 2/3 or 1 lb versions, it's just a bigger patty on the same size bun (I've never asked if I could just get two 1/3 lb patties). I very much enjoyed the pretzel bread bun and look forward to trying the Brioche bun and eating the pretzel bread bun again.
As a South Bay resident, I'm excited to try pretty much any non-chain that opens up in the South Bay. The next relatively new place I look forward to trying is Sophie's Place in Redondo's Riviera Village.
The Golden State
426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036
i went there today and got a burger and sweet potato fries. the pretzel bun was oily and the patty was too salty, but it was cooked medium rare as ordered and the ipad menu wasn't that bad. it takes longer to order if you're with a group, but it's easy to use. safe to say i'll be going there instead of johnny rockets after the movies.
my friend and i tried it for lunch last week. it took forever to order on the Ipad but there were enough servers walking around that we could signal one for help anytime.
i had a custom pizza. it was a bit dry but delicious. my friend had a custom burger and criss cut fries. the food came out fast but i think a lot of time is wasted with the ordering process. our server said that the larger the party, the slower the ordering process takes because each person has to place their order in the Ipad and take the time to go over each choice.
it wasn't busy when we got there but i can imagine how long the wait must be when they are. it just doesn't seem like the tables turn over very fast. i would go back again but definitely during the off hours.
I just wanted to chime in with a report. I went to Stacked today with two friends after seeing a morning matinee at the AMC. We were seated right away even though there were plenty of people inside -- the place is huge. The servers were very friendly and helpful, and while it took me and my friends a few minutes to acclimate to the ordering system on the iPad, we had loads of fun doing so. The design is quite impressive, and I found that for once, technology is actually being harnassed in a way that's practical.
Nearly all the menu items are customizable (burgers, hot dogs, salads, pizzas, cookie sandwiches, shakes), and the payment options offered cover every conceivable permutation (minus bank checks, of course), including splitting up the total bill -- by item, by amount, or by number of checks (onto which you drag and drop the consumed items). They even give you different ways of including tip -- by percentage or dollar amount. Takes all the calculating work out of your head and saves time.
Anyway, the iPad ordering system is really brilliant, and the cookie sandwiches the three of us had were fine (we were in a hurry, so didn't eat a real meal). It took them a long while to make them, though, which kind of bothered me because how hard is it to make three small cookie sandwiches?
When we "ordered" three glasses of water, they came almost immediately -- I liked that a lot.
Anyway, my friends and I are definitely returning for a real meal next time, as well as the chance to play with the ingenious ordering system some more.
Incidentally, the prices are quite reasonable (you see them on the iPad, but not on the printed menu). Also, I like how you also have options on how to take your receipt -- not at all, in paper form, or via email. My two friends opted out of getting one at all so I chose email just to see how that goes, knowing full well I may be putting myself on their email list, which doesn't bother me in this case. Of course, the emailed receipt was instantaneous. I love going paperless, and this is really great.
Obviously, I'm super-impressed with the non-food elements of Stacked and hope when I return for "real" food that it's not a disappointment. In any case, this idea they spawned is very forward-thinking and I hope other businesses get a clue and do the same.
Last random fact: I also really like that in order to begin ordering, someone must slide a credit card through the iPad first. You totally don't get charged; it's just a security measure, I assume. I say I like this because I've always been theoretically paranoid on behalf of restaurants that customers will take advantage of the honor system and just walk off after eating, without paying. This method prevents that (I imagine the card would get charged if you did end up trying to dine and ditch), but does so without insulting customers or wasting anybody's time.
We went there, and my pet peeve was exactly that you had to use a credit card to start the process, whether you are going to use it or not. I wasn't using it, and I don't see any reason to give them my credit card info. They told us that we could do it manually, but we would have to pay for the food when it came, which was fine with us.
Went there after a movie. Had to ask if we could pay with cash. Person at counter came back with a card and swiped it in the touch pad. When done ordering server came by to collect money and returned with change but no receipt.
We ordered a bbq burger, sweet potato fries, fried chicken salad and garlic sheese fries and sodas. Came to $30. The fries were good.
Food took about 10 minutes to arrive and not all at once. Place was not that crowded for a weekday. No one came by to ask how we were doing or if we wanted refills. I know the touch pad doesn't have refills on it.
This chain is owned by BJ's and next time I'll go to BJ's next door.
I guess if you like to order and pay for your food by touch pad and don't want any service the place is for you.