As the suggestions are starting to roll in, my to-do list is quickly growing so I thought I’d tackle a fairly new and often mentioned location, Grind Burger Bar & Lounge. With a pretty awesome 2 for 1 offer that you can find in most magazines in town, and some additional free items typically found on their website, it all sounded pretty sweet. Was it?
The short answer is, yes. First a little bit about the location. The restaurant is in a desolate part of town nestled between the airport, the Thomas and Mack Center, and a huge field of dirt behind the MGM Grand. There is an Einstein’s and a couple other things in this parking lot, but I don’t think I ever would have thought to stop at this strip mall until now. The interior is modern-ish, kind of a more industrial version of Chipotle with exposed brick and mechanical ducts. The bar area in the back seemed fairly cool, with a big funky light fixture draped from the ceiling, bar-top machines and a fairly stocked liquor selection. The restaurant is entirely hard surfaces; I imagine it gets pretty loud in there when it’s packed. Which it wasn’t when I was there…
As for the 2 for 1 offer, I brought a coupon of my own even though I was going to eat alone. I figured that instead of looking like a pig I could eat one burger at the restaurant, and then get a totally different one to go and sample it back at my office. There were absolutely no expiration dates, rules or stipulations on this coupon, it just stated ‘buy one get one free’ and had a little blurb about their happy hour. So I was quite surprised when the waitress told me that it wasn’t valid for takeout, and didn’t hide my reaction. Instead of arguing she took the coupon and went into the kitchen to speak to someone about it. After a few minutes she came back out and told me they would grant my request even though normally this wasn’t allowed. Apparently it was her manager’s last day and this lady ‘didn’t care.’ Lucky for me, because I do.
Now to the food. The menu is set up as a do-it-yourself burger; there are absolutely no pre-designed burgers to choose from. While I love the freedom, you are probably starting to notice that I hate the laziness of all burger joints by not giving the customer a few creative items of their own. Also for a ‘burger bar’, there are a lot of odd choices on the menu like Thai calamari, edamame and pizza. But I guess not everyone that goes into a place called Grind Burger Bar wants to eat a burger. The burger choices are fairly standard, amount of meat, how you want it cooked, cheeses, toppings… not much in the way of bun selection, just regular, whole wheat or lettuce. They offer quite a few sauces, and I had a hard time selecting just one. I did have my second burger which I was taking with me so it made my choice a bit easier.
For my first burger I went with lettuce, tomato, marinated mushrooms and the chipotle ketchup. I chose ‘rare’, but wasn’t quite expecting what actually came out, a burger that was grilled just right on the outside, but completely raw in the middle! To some this might be gross, but I was very excited by this. The meat had good flavor, and there was actually a bit more meat than bun which I always like. The regular bun was good, but the flavor of it was so strong compared to the slight lack in flavor of the meat and toppings that it almost took over the flavor of the entire meal. The lettuce was shredded, which I think is useless on anything but a taco. Still overall the burger was quite good. Another rarity for me was ordering the fat fries instead of skinny, which had great flavor to them as well surprisingly. The chipotle ketchup had great flavor, and a nice bite to it. I used it on my burger as well as for all my fries.
The second burger that I got to go was a similar setup so I could compare apples to apples, or burgers to burgers in this case, but went with the cayenne pepper ranch dressing per a recommendation from my waitress as their best sauce. By the time I got back to my office, settled in and had any sort of motivation to take a bite out of it was a little while later, but it still had great flavor and I actually liked the bun a bit more now that it was slightly soggy. The sauce was very disappointing, but I wasn’t upset because the burger still tasted good. And before you judge me any further, I literally had only two bites of this one about an hour after that first one, and never went back to it. I’m on a diet after all.
And now for my obligatory negativity to the article: the price. Ignoring my second burger because it was free, $16.70 is far too much for a sit down, but fairly casual burger joint meal. The burger was $8.95 which isn’t bad for the quality of the meat and everything, but another $4(!!!) for fries, and $2 for an iced tea push this to the point of being a bit too overpriced. I suppose if you’re eating with a friend and using the abundant 2 for 1 coupon it’s suddenly not so bad, but for the average person that might not know these offers exist, this ends up being about double of what I would expect it to cost. Hence the coupon.
I definitely wouldn’t write this place off. If you can get past the odd location and find yourself a coupon I would absolutely recommend it.