Just when you think you’re over all this gourmet, fresh burger craze, along comes one that gets it right: BurgerFi.
David Manero, of Vic and Angelo’s and The Office fame, opened the off-beach BurgerFi on A1A in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea in February. It’s slated to be the first of many.
BurgerFi stands for “burgerfication” of the nation. Manero made up the term to signify a return to the country’s original casual burger joints – the ones that served hand-formed cooked-to-order, simple choices of hamburgers with all the fresh fixings that Boomers remember from their childhoods.
I stopped in with a buddy on my way back from the grand opening of B Ocean Hotel in Fort Lauderdale (more on that to come) recently to check it out. We almost didn’t – we’d had quite a lot of food so far that day, and debated; I’m glad his stomach won out.
Open air and beach-worthy
It’s slick and modern inside – a shiny New Jersey diner feeling with the stainless look going on. But lights hanging from sustainable wood paneling, meathooks, and recycled fixtures everywhere give its 21st century birthday away. Lynn Manero designed the space as she has all the Manero restaurants.
It’s open to the outside, with counter, table and communal table seating. It’s counter service – and though the burgers take some time to prepare, and the fries and rings aren’t dropped till you say so, they’re pretty speedy. They have a beeper system so you can sit and relax with your drinks and soak up the casual atmosphere – and the A1A beach traffic on weekends.
An all-around good burger
The BurgerFi signature Burger’s notable – at $5.47, juicy, moist, and made from two “source verified” all-natural Angus patties. A “secret sauce” is mayo- and ketchup-based. The toasted bun has BurgerFi’s name branded into it (for phone photo uploads, it’s free advertising – give ’em points for social media savvy).
There is fat in this burger – essential, most everyone agrees, for a decent hamburger. An all-lean patty may be better for your heart – but no matter how high the quality of the meat, it’s still going to taste wrong. Fat’s needed for flavor and for a palate-memory jolt, which Manero is going for.
These burgers do taste like the ones everyone’s reaching for these days – non-chain hamburgers remembered from individual burger stands and drive-ins in their hometowns.
This burger is so moist it produced my only complaint – the bun was soggy by the time I had gotten half-way through the burger. It fell apart at the end. That’s moist to the max – it’s a five-napkin burger.
The top-of-the-line priced Ultimate Cheeseburger ($9.97) is a “double natural prime brisket burger” with Swiss and blue cheeses, with the works.
For green eaters
The VegeFi vegetarian patty is made with organic quinoa (not vegan, however, with white cheddar standard on it, though you can ask them to hold it). Weird is the 1/2-and-1/2 Stack ($6.97) Burger on the menu – an Angus patty stacked with a quinoa patty with all the extras – for those schitzoid dieters, we presume. They should rename it the Analyst’s Dream.
The “green” style burger is available with no bun – only a lettuce wrap.
Build your own
Burgers come in single ($3.97), double ($5.57) or triple-patty ($6.97) sizes for a build-your-own deal. Most normal toppings are free – lettuce, roasted garlic aioli, onions, tomatoes, grilled onions, jalapenos, A-1 sauce, Rex hot sauce.
The premium add-ons, $1 extra, include a sunny-side-up egg, Peter Luger steak sauce, Heinz organic ketchup, grilled mushrooms, chili, bacon, and a number of cheeses: American, blue, Swiss, white cheddar.
Stand-out ‘sick’ sides
I will go on record as saying these are the best onion rings I’ve had in years. Fat, crisp coating that holds up to the onion cooking inside – and never becomes soggy. The fries were good as well – crispy and tasty – but if you want them either side of that, order extra-crispy or limp.
You can get them with cheese; we had enough going on the burgers.
Dogs, desserts too
All-natural “Hipster dogs” are split and grilled and served on a poppy-seed bun. Get them Chicago, Texas, New York style; or get the chicken-apple dog. They’re $3.97.
A few wines and craft beers are on the menu, though Miller Light’s listed as one of them (!?) Along with natural Boylan’s sodas ($2.57) and sugar-cane sweetened Coca-Cola from Mexico ($2.57), they offer their “famous” red-velvet and “Hostess-style” (cream filled) cupcakes at $3.97 each.
The winning dessert, however, is their “real deal frozen custard.” According to the menu, it’s made fresh every 2 hours. It goes into cones, floats and cows, shakes and “concrete” creations – the butterfat is so high, when this stuff freezes, it’s, well, like concrete. Brain freezes will be common eating this.
Toppings and mix-ins are free in the Concrete Footing – make your own if you don’t like their exotic creations; example: coconut-passion-fruit-mango-caramel.
Manero’s healthy turn
Manero said he opened BurgerFi to put out a burger that’s “guilt-free.” He reasons everybody is more focused on what’s going into their bodies, and if a burger and fries is on the diet, they can be made with natural ingredients. Want an all-natural hot dog, or a shake that has no huge list of preservatives? It’s here.
So is an old-fashioned flavor that’s not yet “corporate” tasting. Look for more of these, including one coming soon in Manero’s old Shore location on Delray Beach at Atlantic Ave. We hope he can keep up the quality; if so, he’s got us SatisFi’d to his way of thinking.
- 4343 N. Ocean Dr., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
- 954-489-0110; burgerfi.com
- Open daily, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.