Restaurant Review The Burger Stand
The Burger Stand’s interior is cheery and pleasant, and it seems to be succeeding in a spot — on the corner of Burro Alley and West San Francisco Street — that has seen a restaurant or three go belly up.
Located on the corner of Burro Alley and West San Francisco Street, the Burger Stand is an imported concept that was hatched in Lawrence, Kansas, home to the University of Kansas and a perfect place for a student-friendly restaurant like this, which offers hipsterized versions of classic comfort food: hamburgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, falafel, fries, salads, shakes, and floats. There are also locations in Topeka and Taos.
The Lawrence edition is a little different. It’s bigger, it’s a bit cheaper (typically a dollar less for the same burger), and it offers a vast selection of craft beers. It wouldn’t be fair to begrudge the Santa Fe Burger Stand its higher prices — they’re paying downtown rents in a tourist city, after all — but it would be nice to see the draft beer selection expand over time. Currently, the Burger Stand offers an array of bigbrand and craft beers, from Budweiser to Stella Artois to Santa Fe Brewing Company’s State Pen Porter, but the tap selection is relatively small.
The Burger Stand’s interior is cheery and pleasant, and it seems to be succeeding in a spot that has seen a restaurant or three go belly up. The décor is an eclectic mix of exposed brick; a painted stamped-metal ceiling; warmly stained wood counters, tables, and chairs; and a smooth old wood floor. You can eat at the bar, at a community table, at one of several individual tables scattered around, or on a patio that’s especially inviting on a bright summer day — it’s well-shaded with big umbrellas. The bar is full-service; otherwise, you pay at the counter, take a number, and your food is delivered.
The wait staff varies, but you’re likely to see an athletic-looking young man taking food orders and a tattooed woman working the bar. They’re a good team, and they do a lot of patient explaining to firsttimers (including many tourists) who want to have the food-ordering drill spelled out.
I wouldn’t say the Burger Stand is overpriced, but the total can add up, in part because the burgers don’t come with anything but vegetable garnishes like lettuce and tomato. Fries are extra — $3 to $4.50 for a side, which is enough for one person, or $5.50 to $8.50 for a basket, enough for two or three. During various visits, we tried the regular, duck fat, greenchile cheese, and sweet potato fries. The regulars were serviceable thin-cut fries but nothing special; the duck fat version didn’t taste like duck fat; the green chile-cheese fries were tasty and messy; and the sweet potato variety was satisfactory. After ordering any of the fries, be sure to visit the restaurant’s condiment bar, which offers a yummy lineup of six self-serve sauces, including toasted marshmallow, guajillo chile, chipotle-cocoa ketchup, and a Bloody Maria-barbecue sauce that’s dark and tangy.
The main event here is obviously the burgers, which are made with Black Angus beef — the standard at many a serious burger place these days. The essentials — the beef and the soft white buns, which are supplied by Chocolate Maven — are high-quality, though a couple of the sauces and proportions may need adjusting. I tried the Black & Blue, which combines a generous beef patty, blue cheese, apple chutney, and local greens. It was quite respectable, but the chutney somewhat overwhelmed the other ingredients, so you might want to ask that it be served on the side. My dining companion tried the green chile cheeseburger. He enjoyed it, though the chopped green chile didn’t have much kick. A different friend ordered the Smoke burger, which combines beef, Gouda cheese, smoked bacon, and chipotle-chile ketchup. Both guests were basically satisfied. One said he wished there were a place like The Burger Stand in the Wyoming college town where he lives.
I would eat the Chicago Dog again — a beef frank on a nice light bun that’s loaded with mustard, pickle relish, tomatoes, small whole “sport” peppers, and celery salt. The catfish po’ boy, while enjoyable, had a proportion problem. The centerpiece, a plank of breaded and fried catfish, was fairly thin, and the cooks compensated by heaping on too much of what they called spicy Creole slaw. It’s good slaw, though — moist and a little mustardy.
Overall, the Burger Stand may have its ups and downs — some quite typical of a new business — but it’s a welcome and long-overdue casual addition to the downtown food scene.