Restaurant’s burgers are a smash with patrons across San Diego

By Kelley Carlson

With nine locations throughout San Diego County and a new site slated to open in April, Smashburger is proving to be a hit with local residents. The restaurant goes above and beyond typical fast-food chains with its ingredients, using premium items such as Madagascar vanilla syrup, real cocoa beans and Haagen-Dazs ice cream in shakes; Tazo Tea; Maytag blue cheese and cremini mushrooms as toppings; artisan buns, including chipotle with smoked peppers; and 100-percent certified Angus beef.

And the prices are lower than what some people might expect, with the regular-sized Smashburger in the $5 to $6 range. “We’re not expensive,” said Wayne Mandelbaum, vice president of operations for SmashBros. LLC in San Diego and Riverside counties. “We want a place people can take their families to and not break the wallet.”

The restaurant derives its name from the process used to create its burgers, which are “smashed,” seared in juices on a hot grill, seasoned and cooked to the customer’s preference.

The Classic version features American cheese, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and Smash sauce on an egg bun.

Special to the area franchises -- including Del Mar and La Jolla -- is the San Diego Smashburger, with avocado, cilantro, onions, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and spicy chipotle mayo on a torta roll. Don’t forget to squeeze the wedge of lime over the toppings.

A handful of other creations are offered, or guests can build their own patty.

Despite the company name, burgers aren’t the only items on the menu. There are nearly a half-dozen chicken sandwich options, served grilled or crispy. All of the hot dogs -- Classic, Chili Cheese and Chicago -- are made with 100 percent Angus beef. Vegetarians may opt for the made-from-scratch Black Bean Burger or one of several salads, including the Sunset, a mixture of greens, balsamic tomatoes, raisins, dried cranberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and blue cheese, and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Among the sides available are Smashfries, tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic; Haystack Onions; and Fried Pickles, with buttermilk ranch dressing.

For dessert, shakes are served in an old-fashioned frosted glass with leftovers in a metal mixing cup.

While Smashburger doesn’t have happy hours, it has “happy days,” said Mandelbaum, as beer and wine are regularly part of the beverage menu. The microbrews are from local companies Ballast Point and Stone Brewing.

The clean and simple, yet modern decor in Smashburger is essentially the same at all 151 locations nationwide, with some variations.

Inside the Del Mar franchise, a brightly lit logo is prominently displayed over the colorful mini mosaic tiles behind the register. Customers order items off a large wall menu next to the counter, and then seat themselves at a cushioned booth as the server delivers the goods. Smashburger’s signature words -- “smash,” “sizzle” and “savor” -- are boldly painted in red on antique-white space. Light, “middle of the road” music fits in with the casual atmosphere.

During those idyllic, warm and sunny Southern California days, many patrons gravitate outside to the dog-friendly patio. They may lounge at tables underneath umbrellas while observing the activity at one of the Village’s busiest intersections, 15th Street and Camino del Mar. They can also catch a glimpse of the Pacific, just a couple of blocks away.


Address: 1555 Camino del Mar, Del Mar; 1000 Prospect St., La Jolla

The Vibe: Relaxed, Quick-Casual

Signature Dishes: Classic Smashburger, San Diego Smashburger, Spicy Baja Smashburger, Sunset Salad

Open Since: 2010 (La Jolla and Del Mar)

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily


Phone: (858) 461-4105, Del Mar; (858) 750-2531, La Jolla

Reservations: No

Patio Seating: Yes

Take Out: Yes

Happy Hour: No

On The Menu Recipe

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This week: How to prepare a Smashburger!