Originating in Denver, Colorado Smashburger franchises are popping up all over the United States. Their claim to fame is the process in which a round ground beef ball gets smashed into a flat patty when it's placed on a flat-top grill. The flattened patty is then seared on the outside while still locking in the juices making a signature juicy burger patty with a perfect outside crunch. Some locations even offer unique burgers that appeal to each market based on regional flavors that the franchise is located in. In Denver, it's the Colorado Burger- topped with green chilies or in Tennessee - the Tennessee burger- topped with Jack Daniels BBQ sauce and grilled garlic jalapenos.
You can build your own burger, grilled chicken sandwich or hot dog with regular, sweet potato or smash fries (topped with olive oil, garlic and rosemary) as sides- they've even got salads and Haagen-Daaz milkshakes!
The Beehive Burger at Smashburger
On this visit I tried the beehive burger topped with Honey BBQ sauce, apple-wood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, haystack onion strings served on an egg bun ($5.99). The burger came out cooked medium with a nice crust from the flat-top grill. The patty was semi-moist though I was expecting it to be juicier- it was also fairly packed and not crumbly with just enough seasoning and a good meaty beef flavor. The egg bun was slightly sweet but I wish it were fresher. The cheese, onion strings, bacon and honey mustard were a great compliment to the complete the burger. Overall the beehive burger that I got that day was pretty good but I've had better from the same location- and having had better their before would have me come back to Smashbuger again.
I've been trying to find some time to make it out to Val's for months and although it's not far from where I live I just haven't found the time- until today. Val's is located in Hayward, CA in a mostly mixed residential area a bit off the beaten path. They've got ample parking and I was even able to find a spot during a busy Friday afternoon lunch stop.
Val's opened in 1958 and has been grilling burgers ever since. It's 900+ favorable Yelp reviews likely helps draw in a lot of business and the burgers keep people coming back. When you walk in it has a bit of a nostalgic diner feel- lots of newspaper clippings on the walls from over the years, signed pictures of obscurely known celebrities who have eaten there, old decor, booth seating and an open seating area along the counter which runs the span of the whole business.
I wish I would have tried this place sooner because Val's does a good burger. The burgers are available in three sizes from the 1/3 lb baby burger to the 1 lb papa burger. All burgers are char-grilled and served with lettuce (cheese an extra $.35 and tomatoes an extra $.25). All other toppings and condiments are at your table to build a burger any way you like including pickles, onions, relish, mustard, ketchup, and mayo.
The Mama Burger at Val's
I went for the 1/2 lb mama with tomato, American cheese and a side of grilled onions- medium rare. I topped it off with lettuce and all the condiments. The burger was cooked perfectly. It was amazingly run down your arms juicy, awesomely flavorful and seasoned just right. The grilled onions came on the side and there was enough to top at least 5 burgers- a great value at $.75 extra that added some caramelized sweetness that made the burger even better. I have to say, Val's makes a near perfect burger- and for that I give Val's an 8 out of 10 and I have to put it on my top 10 burger list.