As a food blogger I sometimes get invited to restaurant openings via email. These are always in New York and Los Angeles so I don’t usually even read them. However an invitation for a new restaurant in my town of Mill Valley, well that’s hard to pass up. Although we almost did. This new restaurant is a burger place. With 50% of my family not ever eating meat and the other 50% eating it on occasion this didn’t seem like a place to try. However I checked out the menu online and realized we could go to the opening and everyone could eat something. Another set-back was the original invitation was on my daughter’s (the vegetarian) birthday. That would just be cruel, so we were passing. However as the date approached the construction and opening was pushed back a week. So tonight we went to Smashburger.
For some reason our town of Mill Valley has opened a few new burger places in the last few months. I’m not really sure why. Seems people that I know are eating less meat, not more. But still here they are. Most just do burgers so the thing that stands Smashburger out is the variety of the menu. Yes there are creative burgers (arugula, truffle mayo, portobello mushrooms anyone?) with wonderful fresh rolls (ciabatta, egg, multi grain) here but there are also chicken sandwiches, a veggie black bean burger and salads. Another thing is the drinks. It’s not just soda. Hooray! In addition to sodas there are other drinks for kids such as brewed caffeine free iced teas, Honest Teas, milk and lemonade (although not real). And there’s beer for mom and dad.
My family tried lots of food tonight. And we ate more fried sides than we usually would (another reason we don’t frequent burger joints). Smashfries are tossed with rosemary and olive oil and garlic. Then there’s sweet potato fries and veggie frites (which are grilled/fried? green beans and carrots – yum!) Although a chain there are some regional menu items for each location. I enjoyed my truffle mayo burger. They likely don’t have that in Texas. My son liked his plain cheeseburger, although the plain kids’ fries were lacking after trying all the other frite options. I saw a very generous cobb salad (in a real ceramic bowl – no cardboard or plastic) come out after I finished my truffle burger and immediately had veggie envy. One disappointment was my husband’s black bean veggie burger. Kind of flat and a non event. My daughter ordered a chicken, avocado, bacon and tomato sandwich without the chicken and bacon, of course. She was happy. But even happier when they brought around a Haagen-Dazs milk shake sample.
Maybe it’s because we don’t go to a lot of burger places but my family had never heard of SmashBurger. To our surprise there are over 200 of them and they just started in 2007. So if you know your burger chains (they don’t like to be thought of as a chain, but hey, let’s face it) this is certainly a growing and popular one. The staff was very friendly and we realized these were people brought in from other locations for the opening. This is smart. And a great way to make a first impression. Hopefully when they hire locally the same friendly and enthusiastic attitude will prevail.
With such a large menu and non meat options my partially veggie family will likely come back. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s next to Whole Foods and down the street from my kids’ school and Tae Kwon Do studio (where I spend much of my life). Smashburger Mill Valley opens to the public this Wednesday, July 10th.