Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
The culinary craftsmen at Ole’s Tex-Mex Restaurant forge flavorful south-of-the-border fare from traditional family recipes. For brunch, the eatery slings egg quesadillas and huevos rancheros, a hearty amalgam of eggs and corn tortillas anointed with ranchero sauce. Chefs conjure specialty dinner dishes such as chilies rellenos, carne guisada, and shrimp burritos. The casual restaurant hosts happy hour daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., creating loyal customers infused with more joviality than a smiley-face convention.
The menu at Fat Daddy's showcases made-from-scratch items and 100% sirloin beef burgers. The eatery’s gastronomes slather their locally processed beef in homemade dips and sauces before sandwiching it between buns delivered daily from a local bakery. The Dragon burger ($8.29) lures in naive princesses with pepper jack cheese, guacamole, and green chilies, while the blue cheese bacon cheeseburger buries beef underneath blue cheese dip and fried onion straws ($8.29). The buffalo chicken sandwich ($7.99) teems with certified farm fresh poultry, while the Knife-N-Fork chili cheeseburger splays out a half-pound of meat on an upside-down bun and slathers it in cheddar cheese and diced onions ($8.29).
7 Salsas augments its menu of Mexican fare with a rotating septet of homemade salsas—one served daily—and the always-available Big Red, the restaurant's signature picante sauce. Diners pique piquant palates with an order of fresh guacamole prepared tableside ($8.79) or with other appetizers, such as chicken-and-bacon quesadillas ($9.25). Seafood offerings include two soft or crispy fish tacos, each stuffed with tilapia, cabbage, and chipotle-avocado dressing ($8.99), and two enchiladas del mar, bursting with plump shrimp, topped with ranchera sauce, and endorsed by Poseidon's private chef ($9.99). For border-straddling bites, delve into a Tex-Mex concoction such as the hearty Cha-Cha chimichanga, a giant flour tortilla extensively trained in syncopated dance styles and stuffed with rice and either chicken or beef, then crowned with chile con queso ($8.59).
Rich Hicks and Todd Istre are the masterminds behind many a national food concept—from Rich's southwestern taco at Tin Star to Todd's spicy seafood dishes at Boudreaux's Cajun Kitchen. When the duo joined forces to create Mooyah, however, they cleared the tortillas and crawdads from their mind in order to focus on formulating a quintessential American burger.
Today, within scores of Mooyah locations throughout the nation, chefs bustle behind counters, grilling up burgers in accordance to Todd and Rich's formula. Cooks pile lean-beef, turkey, and veggie patties onto white or wheat buns before loading on cheeses and toppings of bacon, fried onion, and avocado. Meanwhile, freshly cut potatoes simmer in fryers, and blenders whirl with ice-cream shakes. Out in the dining room, tabletops and booths sit atop checkered floors beneath walls of chalkboards, where customers can write messages or draw portraits of what they wished they looked like, could they only grow a beard.