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Upmarket 'Chain' burgers.

We've always loved Five Guys, especially their fries so we usually just go there, but this last week we've tried two more places. Last week we got a coupon for Smashburger. DH had a bacon cheeseburger and regular fries and I had the 'seasoned' fries and veggie burger. I couldn't taste the rosemary on my fries but they were lovely and crispy, and I loved the veggie burger, and John was happy with his. We'll go back there again... and today we went to a movie in Boca so I said 'let's try Shake Shack.' We were very disappointed. The caramel shake tasted exactly like it came from Wendys, my Chicago dog was okay but I like the one at Five Guys better. And DH was super disappointed in his burger, which seemed on a par with McDonalds. The fries were nice and crispy though. But we won't be going back - why go out of our way when we can get something virtually the same at Wendys right by our house?

So, what's your opinion? What other burger places should we look out for? There's no Sonic in our area so we can't go there... John's into burgers, I love shakes.

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  1. Forget Sonic burgers anyway -- they're revolting, IMO. If you want a _real_ upmarket chain burger, find a Fleming's steakhouse, and go there during happy hour, when their Prime Burger (normally something like $14) is $6. Made from aged steak trimmings, comes with cheese, bacon, and fries. Best deal around.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Steve Green

      I just discovered the greatness of the Fleming's happy hour prime burger. I'd never go there on my own -- I think of it as a restaurant for special occasions or rich people only -- but happened to be in the neighborhood a few Fridays ago at 5 PM, the bar was empty, and the burger was a classic. Definitely a great deal.

      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

        +3 on that fleming's burger special. i live in boston which has no "happy hours", so can't enjoy a cocktail promo with it, but that burger is amazing.

        same can be said for all the upscale steakhouse chains. burgers are generally around $12-$18. spendy compared to a sonic, yes, but usually prime beef, ginormous and not garbage.

      2. re: Steve Green

        Could not agree more about the Sonic burger. Got one once, thought it was horrible.

        Sonic is all about the Coney dogs, tots and shakes though a lot of people love their lime ades.

        I'm not sure if it's "Upmarket" or not since I've never been and don't live anywhere near one but supposedly Culver's does an outstanding burger.


        1. re: Davwud

          Culver's is decidedly not upmarket but is a terriffic chain.

        2. re: Steve Green

          Along these same lines, at least here in LA, McCormick & Schmick offers their burger for only a couple of dollars during happy hour - one of the best deals in town. Not sure if they have any locations in your area, however.

          1. re: Marvin

            oh! yeah! forgot about that! here in boston it's like $2-$3 with fries and is very good!

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              The McCormick & Schmick happy hour burger is big and cheap, but IMO several notches down in quality from Fleming's.

              1. re: Steve Green

                totes agree. but since the m&s burger is about the same price as mickey d's? ;)

        3. For an upmarket burger chain I like The Counter Burger. They have a good burger cooked medium so it's pink and topped with toppings of your choice. The fries are good if you like the skinny fries [I like Five Guys fries more]. I think they mostly a CA chain... unfortunately they closed their Seattle store.

          2 Replies
          1. re: knowspicker

            The Counter is good. I also like Unami Burger. Again, a mostly LA chain.

            1. re: knowspicker

              I loved The Counter when I lived in Chicago. Looks like that location is closed now though :( http://www.thecounterburger.com/locat...

            2. They've opened a few BurgerFi locations in Georgia near me, I like their burgers and their mocha shake was really good. Have not tried their hot dogs yet.

              1. The Longhorn chain does a very good burger & they'll cook it to whatever level of doneness you prefer.

                1. I like shake shack burgers, but certainly the hot dogs and ice cream are nothing special. however the burgers to me taste of much better quality meat than wendys' (at least the way it's handled) and it's also very very consistent, whereas I cannot say that about wendys. they also serve alcohol!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: fara

                    Second this. I've never had a bad burger at Shake Shake. Great bun (none of this bloated Wonder Bread bun) and it's cooked medium rare, unlike Five Guys' "juicy well done" whateverthehell that means. I've pretty much given up on Five Guys given their wild inconsistency: soggy fries (and way the hell too many) and soggy burgers. Shake Shack half wraps theirs like In N Out so the steam doesn't build up. Shake Shack's frozen crinkle cuts are always consistently crispy. I don't see the point of bragging about your fresh cut potatoes if you don't know how to fry them properly.

                    Another place I don't understand is Red Robin. Been to two and they were both deafening and mediocre. Fortunately, I have THREE Roy Rogers nearby so I'm never that far from a Double R Bar Burger or their Gold Rush Chicken Sandwich, which makes Chik Fil A look like a pile of puke.

                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      I guess it depends on what your expectations are for the bun whether it's 'great' or not. I HATE those squishy sweet yellow buns. Give me a cuban roll or a proper white roll any day with some real substance to it. That was something I liked about Smashburger - you have the choice of 5 different styles of bread. I DID like shake shack's fries though...

                      1. re: Kajikit

                        "Squishy sweet yellow buns?" Do you mean brioche? I HATE brioche. If it's not on Martin's Potato Rolls, for me, it's not worth eating.

                  2. Iron Chef Michael Symon's The B-Spot is fantastic. The one here in Woodmere Ohio is always packed, and the food comes out really fast. I've never had a bad experience there. They don't screw around with special orders (which I *love*, and I guarantee you that's why the orders come out so smoothly and so quickly). Everything on the menu is what you get, so if you're a fussy eater that likes to nit pick about all the ingredients and make all kinds of changes - just be forewarned, they don't do it. The prices are very reasonable as well, considering the quality of the food. Burgers range from about $5.50 - $9, fries are $3. There's a complimentary condiment/pickle bar with all kinds of homemade toppings. At the table there are several homemade bbq sauces and ketchups to choose from as well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Atomic76

                      That sounds right up my valley!

                    2. The shake shack burgers I've had were nothing like McDonalds, absolutely melt in your mouth, delicious.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sirrith

                        Maybe it's different in Florida... but neither my husband nor I were the least bit impressed.

                      2. This won't help you unless you venture to San Diego but I have to extoll my delight about Burger Lounge. This is a chain in SD and offers delicious grass-fed beef, quinoa vegetarian, and often times lamb burgers. We find their burgers to be perfectly juicy, with the superb ratio of Thousand Island dressing to burger. Their fries aren't the best but we have no problem chowing down on those and the onion rings. Very good shakes too. Tumor has it that Burger Lounge is expanding to L.A.

                        3 Replies
                          1. A Smashburger just opened up relatively near us (Radnor, PA) and so we took a little drive there for dinner on Saturday. We're big Five Guys fans so we wanted to see how this compared. And the verdict is...

                            Burgers: Five Guys wins for meat quality and taste. Burgers were a good size and DH preferred to have one big patty rather than two smaller ones.
                            Toppings: pretty much a tie. We did like that Smashburger offered cheddar cheese (not just American).
                            Sides: we liked the variety at Smashburger (we had regular fries with DS's kids meal, sweet potato fries, and onion strings) but overall the regular fries at FG were more our style. The onion strings were incredibly salty, however.
                            Other: Atmosphere was a bit more "upscale" at SB, but I don't think this was a big deal. DH loved his shake. I was disappointed that they didn't have root beer as a fountain soda, only in bottles (= up-sell). Table delivery service was convenient.

                            Overall: I doubt we'll go out of our way to go back to SB; although it was good, we thought it wasn't quite as good as FG.

                            1. I too was sent a coupon for Smashburger near where I live so am planning to try it after reading this thread.

                              For chain fast food burgers, In-N-Out still wins for me - I don't know if it qualifies as up-market, but its the same type of place as Five Guys. Fat Burger would be a close 2nd to In-N-Out, mainly because they're a bit more money.

                              My favorite fast food burger chain here in LA is "The Habbit" which is really good, but I think they are limited to the Southern California area. Their "Santa Barbara" burger on grilled sourdough with avocado is to die for, IMHO.

                              For a little bit more up-market (above fast-food), I agree about The Counter - they do a very good, customized burger there.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Marvin

                                Are you referring to Habit? I'm in AZ (Scottsdale) and they're opening one this week that is a few miles from me. I heard it was a CA chain. Waiting for a coupon so I can try them out!

                                1. re: Marvin

                                  The Habit is up in Central CA too. There's a location in Fresno, and one in Visalia. They restored/remodeled the old Mearle's Drive-In, which is a Visalia landmark. It's very good.

                                2. Sonic is not "upmarket". Its not bad for what it is, but what it is ain't upmarket.