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Thursday, August 22, 2013

BurgerFi South Padre Island - a review

I have heard good, bad, and mediocre to describe the fairly new BurgerFi on South Padre Island.  I have not gone over the Summer months because, frankly, I try to avoid most all eating establishments on the island in the high season.  It is not the optimal time for locals to go out to eat!  You vie with hoards of tourists in large groups with crying children.  Not my idea of a good time.  I laugh, because we, at one time, were a part of those hoards and never thought a thing of waiting in long lines with harried waiters taking forever to get anything.  We smiled and toasted our wonderful vacation.  From an economic standpoint, I'm thrilled to see the madness continue.  However, I no longer choose to play the game.

Sooooo, it is now the last week of Summer on the starts Monday...there will be a bit of a bump (ok, maybe a big bump) of visitors for Labor Day week-end.  However, for the most part, the hoards are waning.  You will hear a tremendous sigh of relief from those of us who, while grateful for the economy of Summer, dream of the days of September and October...when the beaches are less crowded, the weather begins a slight (oh so slight) cooling of the morning air, and everything is wonderful once again.  That is, of course, barring some vicious H*rr***ne (a bad word, I can't type it, bad luck).

Today, my granddaughter waited very patiently for me to get my pedicure at Venus Spa so I told her we could go out for lunch after I was finished.  I had BurgerFi in the back of my mind to hit up when the crowds dissipated and it seemed to me that the island was much less crowded today.  Seemed possible today could be the day, so I asked the girls at Venus if they had tried it and what they thought.  Jennie had - and said she and her husband liked it a lot.  There was talk about their recent inspection getting flying colors from Ryan Wolf.  So, I decided to give it a try if it wasn't a full parking lot.

Upon arrival, we found most of the side parking lot available and so we hurried in.  It was nearly 1:00 and I expected the main lunch push was wrapping up.  We still had a line reaching back about 1/3 of the main dining area.  It seemed doable so we stepped into our place in line.  The line was one long one which split to two cashiers.  That seemed confusing to several people who came in after us who tried to step up to one or the other of the cashiers.  I guess they figured it out because they backed up to the proper end of the line.  The line moved fairly quickly.  The grandchild wanted a cheeseburger with pickles and ketchup only and some fries.  I decided on a single patty with fairly simple standard ingredients...mustard and ketchup and mayo (yep, I like all three) lettuce, onion, and pickle - no cheese.  I saw the combo order of onion rings and fries and the little miss and I decided to split that (with me taking the onion rings).  Two sodas and a tally right under $20.  That was a little pricier than I would hope for, since there was not any visible "kids menu", but if it was delicious, I was game.

BurgerFi has some high-tech soda machines.  They were pretty cool - you could mix sodas (yeah, like that's gonna happen) if desired and it was all touch screen.  I was able to figure it out fairly easily since the buttons flashed so you could realize "hey, push here dummy".  The grandkid thought the whole business was pretty cool...until her tiny fingers hit the Sprite Zero button accidentally and she couldn't figure out how to get back to the screen for regular Sprite.  The dude behind us had to walk us through the endeavor...and we were holding up the line...which is right in the midst of the waiting line.  Not an optimal set-up.  That is, of course, what a lot of the complaining was on Facebook when they first opened.  The traffic flow is poor when crowded.  Nonetheless, we got our sodas, lids, and straws and since the grandchild decided to sit outdoors, we headed that way.  Joy of joys...sliding need to balance drinks and push heavy doors.  I had to go back for condiments and again was thankful for not having to open doors with my hands balancing 4 containers of ketchup! 

We had a beeper for order pick-up and it seemed a bit of a long time for our order to be ready.  I can't imagine what it might be like with a huge crowd.  I had time to look around and observe things while I waited.  I saw big orders of fries passing by, mostly families, a few workers, and lots of happy faces.  That's always a good sign.  I noticed a worker was deep cleaning/scrubbing vacant tables.  A manager came out and reviewed his work and asked if he was cleaning under the table.  He got instruction on scrubbing under the table as well as on top.  Gotta say I liked that!  A few weeks with my grandkid has reminded me what germ mongers kids are! 

Finally, our beeper vibrated and lit up so lunch was ready!  My first thought when I retrieved our tray was "gee, these are pretty tiny burgers for nearly $6" and "damnnnn, that's a lot of fries, we'll never eat all of these".  In the long run, the burgers were actually just the right size for me and...we did not even put a dent in the fries.

I got back to the table and unloaded.  Eating outdoors on perpetually breezy SPI is always a challenge for a child.  Flyaway napkins, flyaway hamburger wrapper...I had to keep on top of where things were at all times.  I snapped a couple of photos.  Miss A. declared them to be really, really good hamburgers (she's a harsh hamburger critic and generally prefers chicken nuggets so that's a big kudo).  My burger was outstanding flavor-wise, albeit a bit dry.  However, since I love a chargrilled burger, I really like that it was well-done.  Many, however, will think it is over-cooked.  I know my younger son would.  The 1-patty burger is a very thin patty...and thin dries out when grilled, it's just a fact. The veg was fresh, the pickle particularly delicious, and the buns have the entertaining feature of being branded (literally) with the BurgerFi name.  That really thrilled my granddaughter!  "How did they DO that Grandma?" was asked repeatedly.  Finding the 7-year-old words to describe branding resulted in several different ways of describing how they might have branded the hamburger bun.  In the end, I finally admitted I just didn't know exactly HOW they did it!  I also tried to discuss with her the benefits of an "all natural" burger patty.  I gave up...just too over her head :-)

I finally got to eat my three HUGE AND DELICIOUS onion rings.  I was full at that point.  I love onion rings.  The fries are "hand cut" and have the skin on them (which was a negative for the grandchild) and were quite limp after a few minutes of being on the table....but, still, surprisingly tasty and had a light dusting of sea salt.  Grandchild only ate 3 of, if you have kids looking for McD's crisp - you won't find it here. (After I typed those words, I Googled their website.  Apparently, there is a "secret menu" where you can ask for extra crisp fries.  Well duh, now I know!)

Over all, I enjoyed the meal.  Another manager stopped by the table to see if everything was fine with our meal.  We said it was very good.  Having a manager walk through...that's a good thing. 

So, in summary...the onion rings were exceptional, fries really nothing to write home about and burgers quite good, but over-priced IMHO.  I managed to keep myself away from the custard/shakes section.  I have heard amazing things about a Red Velvet Cake Shake.    I really want to try that...but it's better that I don't!

We'll stop in again when the season is low and the family is hungry.  I expect, however, my spouse will find that he doesn't want to spend that much money to grab a burger...since we aren't on perpetual vacation (as he frequently likes to remind me).  Say what???  I beg to differ!

This photo has nothing to do with BurgerFi... but everything
to do with being on perpetual vacation :-)


3 – Pretty Yummy - I feel my flip flops wanting to head back from time to time!

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