Restau­rant Re­view The Burger Stand

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Alex Heard

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.

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