This is the first of five Orange County locations to open up for business. I was invited to stop by for lunch and give it a whirl. This location is in Mission Viejo (Address: 27690-B Santa Margarita Parkway) in a strip mall. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much. But that look is deceiving. Step inside and find yourself enveloped in modern/retro decor.
As you enter, you are greeted with a large touch screen set-up. The process is quite simple: You “boss” your burger the way YOU want. Add only what you want – 100% customization. There were three of these set-ups – but if you prefer human interaction, you can proceed to the counter and give your order to a smiling associate.
Step 1: Protein. Choice of ground beef, chicken breast, ground turkey breast or fresh black bean (that is also vegan!)
Step 2: Fresh baked bun. White kaiser, wheat grain, or gluten-free. You can also have your burger wrapped in lettuce as a wrap or in a bowl with lettuce.
Step 3: Cheese! If you don’t want cheese, why pay for it? They have a large variety of cheeses to choose from. Yellow American, sharp cheddar, aged swiss, pepper jack, dolce provolone, bleu crumble, and smoked gouda.
Step 4: Sauce (spread). Too many to list! But there’s enough variety here to satisfy everyone’s tastes! (I had the garlic herb mayo – YES!)
Step 5: Toppings. Pretty much the standard list: green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles. They also offer (at no additional charge) baby spinach, sliced green olives (say what?!), grilled onions and grilled fresh jalapenos (cut length-wise).
They offer “Premium Toppings” as well: Grilled mushrooms, grilled pineapple, avocado, turkey bacon, and fried egg! (I kick myself for not getting the fried egg!)
All throughout the restaurant, the company promotes the transparency in their food selections, procurement, and preparation. All of their meats are raised naturally and without antibiotics or growth hormones.
Making a better burger…
…and keeping it simple…
The dining area is somewhat of a challenge. There are a variety of seating options – high top tables, low tables, booths. It’s just a little cramped. The booths are very comfortable. After you place your order and grab a seat, you’ll only have to wait about seven to ten minutes for your fresh prepared burger (and fries, if you ordered them). While you’re waiting for your lunch, you can decide which beverage you’d like have. They have all Coca-Cola products – and also the first restaurant in Orange Country to offer Coca-Cola Life via beverage fountain. Of course I chose Coca-Cola Life! Such great taste with real sugar.
One of the orders was a grilled chicken breast with smoked gouda and bleu cheese crumble, baby spinach and fresh onion. Sweet chili sauce on the side. Another order was the vegan black bean burger with provolone, pineaple, lettuce, and avocado.
Look at those photos!
My order was as follows: black bean burger on wheat bun with smoked gouda and garlic herb mayo, green leaf lettuce, tomato, and grilled onions. I also ordered sweet potato fries with a side of their chipotle mayo. OMG! Soooo tasty!
Just a few things about this:
The wheat bun was perfect! Soft and pillowy, not crusty or dry. The green leaf lettuce may seem insignificant – but it adds to the value of the burger. Honestly, I am so relieved that they didn’t use iceberg lettuce – it’s probably the worst type of lettuce to use – from a quality AND nutritional viewpoint. The grilled onions were delicious. They are not “caramelized” onions – so they do still have a bit of firmness to them. I love smoked gouda – so it was a no-brainer to have on my burger. My only ‘complaint’ would be that the cheese be more melted. This didn’t take away from the overall burger – just a personal preference.
The black bean burger was the main event. Holy moly! According to the company, this item is prepared fresh, in house, with a proprietary company recipe. The robust flavors exploded with each bite. (This ain’t no frozen Boca burger, people!) I’m not sure what the components are but there is a hint of cayenne pepper (I think?) that gives it a slight kick in the mouth. It was pleasantly surprising and not too spicy. Paired with the garlic herb mayo, I feel the spiciness of the black bean burger complimented extremely well.
My friend and I tried a taste of each other’s burger – and she LOVED the black bean burger:
“OMGEEEEEEEE. I was vegetarian for 3 years. (Vegan for a few months) I ate my share of bean patties. 98% of them were gross. THIS was DEELISHIOUS. No grit. Vegetarian food has this mysterious ‘grit’. This bean patty was freakin perfect. AND…they cook it the patties AND the buns on a separate grill. No worries about meat-ness if you are a veggie.”
Those sweet potato fries though! They were plentiful as well as tasty! My friend ordered regular fries with her burger – and we got to try each other’s fries. Mine were 100% better! According to her,
“Sweet potatoe = da bomb. Consistent. Poofy thru and thru. No thick edges and mushy betweens. These things were like orange potatoe marshmallow poofy chips.”
The natural cut fries were served piping hot. These were fresh from the fryer and not your ‘average’ fry. Boss these bad boys up and you’ve got yourself some great fries.
Overall, this place it has everything you’d want: clean food, great pricing, personal customization, and an upbeat atmosphere. During this visit, I also got to meet another food blogger, Caryn Bailey. (That’s her in the photo below, taking some overhead shots of our delicious food!). You can find her blog at: RockinMama
There are more locations in Riverside and Corona. Later this month (or beginning of September), the Lake Forest location will open its doors to the public. Three more locations are slated for the OC in Cypress, Newport Beach, and Tustin!
Until next time…#FORKTHISPLATE