Oak Lawn VIPs got a sneak preview of the new Smashburger menu on the eve of its Wednesday opening.
Smashburger offers "fast casual" dining in the not-so-fast-casual Oak Lawn Town Center where waiting for a parking space seems to be a new way of life these days. Nevertheless, Smashburger laid out quite a spread of burgers, sandwiches, dogs, Polish, and salads combined with such sides as fried pickles, haystack onions and beefy chili.
Smashburger also sells beer.
Judging from the looks of gastric satisfaction on the faces of village employees, cops, elected officials, school district officials and other invited guests, I’d say they were all suitably smashed by the burgs and ready for a nap.
This reporter also had the opportunity to try a few burgers that give the new American staple a new face, one that’s been smashed in.
Unlike your typical fast-food restaurant, Smashburger takes a little longer to grill the meat, and for good reason.
Soon after a friendly Smashburger associate took my order, three meatballs of 100-percent Angus beef hit the grill, sealing in the burger’s juicy goodness right under its grilled crust.
I went to my table to await my burger.
The first bite I took was from the Windy City smashburger – a rush of melted cheddar cheese, crunchy haystack onions, lettuce, tomato and Gulden's spicy mustard on a pretzel bun. Though the spicy mustard gives it that big kick, the thinly sliced onions and pretzel bun really bring the burger together.
For $5.99 and up, the Windy City smashburger has been espeically tailored for the Chicagoan's appetitie.
“We customize a burger for each region,” Smashburger Regional Director Brian Beers said. “Regional burgers always do well.”
The next burg I smapled was the All American smashburger
Topped with ketchup, yellow mustard, onion and pickles on an egg bun, the All- American sounds pretty simple, but for $4.99 and up, you'll get a burger with a backbone.
“There's a lot of flavor in it,” said Zack Olejniczak, son of Oak Lawn Trustee Alex Olejniczak. “It's good. It has a sweet and salty mixture.”
Add a fried egg to the All-American for 99-cents and you're sure to reach the cholesterol stratosphere faster than you can say, “Napkin please.”
For a side dish, smashfries are a solid start. Only $1.99 with the purchase of any sandwich, they were a tender-and-crispy compliment to my burger. Soaked in rosemary, olive oil and garlic, smashfries aren't meant to be snacked on, but savored.
Aside from its mainstay burgers, Smashburger serves an assortment of chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, fries and salads.
The last sandwich I tried, an Avocado Club, was my personal favorite that evening. For $6.99, you can choose between grilled or crispy chicken. Topped with fresh avocado, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch dressing and mayo on a multi-grain bun, it's a great balance between meat, greens and dressing, perfect for lunchtime.
And for the vegetarian, the Black Bean smashburger, fried pickles and veggie frites (flash-fried asparagus spears, carrot sticks and green beans), are delicious alternatives.
Smashburger is the latest restaurant to open in the Oak Lawn Town Center at 5139 W. 95th St., joining Potbelly's, Qdoba and Starbucks. Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.