Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SmashBurger-Mission Valley: San Diego, CA

{Smash, sizzle, savor, shitty}

Smashburger has slowly been opening locations in San Diego. First they started out in La Jolla, opened up a second location in Del Mar and now have a location in Mission Valley. Given that this place is a chain I am under the assumption that my review of one place should be representative of all of the other places. I am not really sure where smashburger got it’s name but I think it has something to do with their hamburgers being mashed/smashed.  But whatever the name a good burger is a good burger regardless of the marketing department. Reviews of SmashBurger on yelp would make you think that SmashBurger was the second coming of Peter Luger’s hamburger. Either way I figured it was worth trying since you never know when you may stumble onto a great meal…or a terrible one.
We visited Smashburger in mission valley and it was fairly busy on their opening night/soft opening. Food was free so I shouldn’t complain. Well at least I can’t complain about the price. Smashburger sells itself as gourmet burger joint. You enter through the main door and get funneled by the menu and finally to the register to order. After ordering you get a number and find yourself a seat and wait until the food is served. We ordered three items, I asked our cashier what was the most popular smashburger and smashchicken. She replied with the BBQ, bacon and cheese and the spicy baja fried chicken. We got one of each with a side of sweet potato and regular smash fries. For good measure we also got a sunset smashsalad. The place was fairly busy but it was easy to find a seat and we waited about 10 min for our food.
{Sunset Smashsalad with Smashclumps}
Sunset Smashsalad. The salad was disappointing. The salad consisted of a mix of romaine and spinach combined tossed with tomatoes, raisins, cranberries, sunflower seeds, pumkin seeds, blue cheese and fried chicken mixed with vinaigrette dressing. The salad did arrive in a big bowl, which I guess is a positive but the rest of the salad was disappointing. First off, the salad wasn’t mixed properly so there were bites of salad with dressing and some without. There were also giant clumps of blue cheese, raisins and cranberries that made for a very interesting flavor. In this sense when I mean interesting I mean crappy. The key to this salad is a homogenous mix of all of the components but in the smashburger rendition giant clumps of ingredients are mixed in with other clumps and served over a bed of lettuce and spinach. The spinach also looked like it had been frozen then thawed.
{BBQ, Bacon and Cheese SmashBurger}
{Undercooked Bacon}
Next up was the bbq, bacon and cheese smashburger. The name basically is all the description you need other than it is also haystack onions and served on an egg bun. The burger was decent size ½ lb. but somehow not all that filling. Maybe because the burger was overcooked and tasted more like anus than angus. Maybe because the bacon was undercooked and did not have any hint of the advertised applewood smoke flavor. Maybe because they should have used toasted the egg bun to at least try to hide it’s spongy texture. There was also a small smattering of haystack onions so it made it difficult to taste the crunchy texture (I assume this is why this was added to the burger). Finally, I was also surprised that when I ordered my burger I wasn’t asked how I wanted it cooked. At least pretend to be gourmet. Even Red Robin asked how you like you burger cooked even though some pink usually means well done at that place.

{Baja Smashchicken Sandwich}
{Fresh Jalapeños}
Next up was the baja fried chicken sandwich. Once again we get another healthy serving of the crappy egg bun combined with fresh jalapenos, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion and chipotle mayo. Even though visually I could see all of the ingredients listed, once I bit into the sandwich none of the ingredients were apparent. I just tasted an overcooked piece of friend chicken with a hint of a spicy aftertaste. I did think that the fresh jalapeños were a nice touch since most of the times when you get jalapenos with burgers you get pickled jalapeños.
{Sweet Potato Smashfries}
Finally, we had or side orders of the regular and sweet potato smashfries. Both were of the skinny fry type. I am assuming that the fries were frozen since I couldn’t taste the typical sweet taste of sweet potato fries. The standard fries were also way overseasoned but at least it stimulated one of my taste buds. I was a little worried during this meal that I had lost my sense of taste.
{Happy Smashpatrons on Smashrocket ship}
Overall I will probably pass on another trip to smash burger. I think other joints in San Diego (Rocky's, hell even Red Robin) and worth hitting for burgers instead of this place. If you’re looking for a cheap burger I would recommend In N Out over Smashburger. You won’t get the gourmet add ons like guacamole, chipotle mayo or onion bun but does it really matter if you can’t taste it? Even though I won’t go back I am pretty sure the mission valley location is going to take off like a rocket ship and there will be 500+ 5 star reviews on yelp by the time I make this post. Joe’s crab shack is upstairs and always seems busy and this is a place that I can see being embraced by San Diego since it caters to the blah palette that thrives in the Mission Valley area.
7676 Hazard Center Dr.
San Diego, CA 92108


  1. I was at the preview night as well, and I was really surprised. I had gone to the preview night for the Del Mar location and enjoyed my food. But this one was disappointing. My burger was so oily that I couldn't finish it. And the bun was soggy. The only things I enjoyed were the fries and the veggie frites.

  2. Hi Kirbie,

    Sorry to hear :(. I enjoyed my salad at the Del Mar opening. You'd think they'd be close to perfection and consistent at it after opening quite a few locations

  3. Yes. I'd have to agree with you about SmashBurger-Mission Valley. It was mediocre at best, with a smattering of Meh.

    Couple of friends and I hit it up about 2 weeks ago and the food was nothing spectacular. Especially for the price! I'd rather get In N' Out! And hey, at least with Red Robin you have endless steak fries.....:X


Ratings and Recommendations by outbrain