Smashburger – Grand Rapids
Whenever one of my co-workers asks me about a quick place to eat in Kalamazoo, I almost always point them towards Smashburger. Sure, it’s a chain, but it’s not something that they had in Grand Rapids. A few weeks ago, that changed.
I read a story in the Grand Rapids Press last month about the new store finally opening in Grand Rapids. It’s kind of an odd location. It’s not a stand alone shop. It’s actually inside 25 Michigan which is one of the large buildings on The Medical Mile. The atrium between 25 Michigan and 35 Michigan is now set up with a little food court. Smashburger is the first to open. It will soon be joined by a Qdoba and a Zoup.
If you in one of the surrounding buildings for something, the atrium food court is a pretty nice feature. It’s gotta be better than the hospital food….am I right? (disclaimer: that’s a joke. I’m sure the hospital food is great. I’ve never had it.)
If you just want to stop in for a quick lunch, it’s kind of a pain. Actually, a real pain. There is no surface lot nearby or even street parking. You have to go in the parking garage underneath the building which means you’re going to have to pay to park just to get lunch.
Smashburger is open everday from 6 AM to 9 PM. I was going for dinner around 6:30 on a Sunday night and I had a helluva time just trying to get to the right floor. I first went in the elevator for 35 Michigan. It would only take me to the third floor. The elevator would go to the first floor, but the door wouldn’t open. I was getting so frustrated. There are no stairways that I could find from the parking deck, so I didn’t know how I was going to get there. I got back in my car to leave then found the elevator for 25 Michigan. I decided to give that one a try and thankfully, the door opened on the first floor. Now, I just had to figure out where the atrium was.
I was in the building just last week for a display at the new Huntington Bank Branch also inside 25 Michigan, so I had an idea where the food court was. I was coming from the opposite side though, so I walked towards the big glass windows that front Michigan Street then turned left and kept walking until I found it.
The food court area looks pretty much like the food court at any mall in America but without the Sbarro. It’s a large open area with with a shared dining space. The Smashburger is in the middle of the three restaurants and, as of this writing, is the only one open.
Since I’ve dined at the Kalamazoo Smashburger several times, I knew exactly what I wanted. I stepped up to the counter and put in my order for a Create-Your-Own burger on a Classic Egg Bun with Bleu Cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon. I also got an order of Smashfries to go with the burger. Just the burger and fries, no drink, cost me a little over $9. Lucky for me, I actually had a coupon for a free meal. When I was at that Huntington Bank last week, they handed me a coupon for a free meal up to $10. I didn’t even look at it at the time and almost threw it away. Luckily, I didn’t and decided to cash in on my free meal.
After putting the order in, I took a seat in the dining area and watched Hurrican Irene coverage on the multiple TV screens hanging from the ceiling. Less than five minutes later, the cashier came out with my bag of food. I headed back to the car, but not before hitting up the parking kiosk to pay the $2 fee to get out of the garage.
I ate the Smashfries on the way back to work. The thin cut fries are tossed in olive oil with rosemary and garlic. They’re delicious. They’re still that really thin shoestring fry that I said I wasn’t really a fan of last night when I stopped at Steak ‘n Shake, but the olive oil, rosemary, and garlic make them delicious. I would prefer a thicker fry, but I’m not complaining about these. I had them gone before I even got out of the parking ramp.
The burger is what I’ve come to expect from Smashburger. There’s a great seared crust on both sides of the patty and it was topped with a large handful of bleu cheese and crispy bacon. The egg bun is much denser than a standard white bun which is something I really like about the Smashburger experience.
I know a lot of my co-workers are very excited about Smashburger. I was too when I first saw how close it was to work, but parking is a nightmare. I really wish there was any easy way to park just to grab lunch, but there isn’t. It’s not going to stop me from eating there. In fact, I’ll probably eat there more than I do at the Kalamazoo location just because it’s so close to work….and it’s a much better option than the fast food along Michigan Avenue.