Munching on mediocrity

New burger restaurant off 168th and Harrison is nothing special


Photo by Emma Baker

Cheeseburger’s The Nation burger pays tribute to a McDonald’s staple: the Big Mac. Though this version had more flavor and higher quality ingredients, it still wasn’t a favorite of mine.

Emma Baker, Catalyst Editor-in-Chief

Last July, the restaurant Cheeseburgers: A take-out joint opened up in Midtown, making a name of its mouthwatering burgers, scrumptious sides and delicious hot dogs…or so I was told. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I got a taste of Cheeseburgers for myself at their new Millard location. 

Frankly, I can’t figure out what the hype is about.

On Friday —  their opening night — my burger-craving family was excited to give the new place a try, jumping online to place an order. We soon found out, however, that the online system was down, and when we called to place an order, no one picked up. Understanding that grand openings are hectic, we didn’t mind and promised to try again another time.

When Sunday rolled around, we set out on our burger quest yet again, this time going into the small restaurant to place the order in-person. Still, they gave us a wait time of 40 minutes, which seemed a bit odd for 4:45 p.m. I was also told that what I had planned to order — the Cajun Burger special — was sold out. Resigned, I settled for The Original burger but kept my expectations high.

Less than 40 minutes later, we returned to Cheeseburgers and saw our grease-spotted paper bag ready to go. While it was nice to get the food earlier than expected, we didn’t know how long it sat there waiting for us — unfortunately, I think some of the food suffered the consequences.

I dug into The Original burger first. The bun sagged from the patty juices and grease, ruining the menu’s promise of a “toasted bun.” Yet, there was some success: the American cheese melted just right on top of the well-seasoned patty, emanating that classic flat-top burger feel. The sliced raw onions, mustard and pickles complimentary to the burger added flavor and texture without being overpowering. For plain-jane cheeseburger lovers, I’d say the $6.50 price tag is reasonable.

Next up, I sampled The Nation. With two beef patties, American cheese, shredded lettuce, pickles, onion and thousand island dressing all on a three-part bun, this burger has been deemed the Big Mac of Cheeseburgers — and I can easily see why. The taste brought me back to the McDonald’s classic but had thicker, more flavorful patties. Once more, the cheese paired nicely with the burger and the lettuce added a nice touch of crunch and “freshness.” The stumbling block for me was its cost — $9.50 — which starts to get pricey for a burger I’d deem McDonald’s-on-steroids.

The last and best burger I tried was The Benny. It elevated The Original by adding another patty and a few strips of heavenly bacon; the smokiness made the dish stand out. We also upgraded an extra 50 cents to sauté the onions which added a greater depth of flavor. For about the same price as The Nation, I’d easily prefer to have this one again.

Of course, I also had to try for myself their highly praised shoe-string fries and breaded onion rings. The fries flopped massively; they were cold, limp and lacking in the seasoning department. After we doctored them up in the oven with some salt and pepper, they tasted better but one shouldn’t have to do that to restaurant fries. Sure, $3.50 is a good deal, but I still expect quality spuds.

The onion rings, on the other hand, had perfect seasoning. I loved the kick of black pepper that so prominently emerged on the palate. The crunch was spot on, and I felt like I was eating something unique to Cheeseburgers. However, when I saw the $5.50 price tag for the mere six onion rings we received, I was a little put off.

All in all, I’d give Cheeseburgers a “just okay” rating. The Benny and the onion rings were tasty, but the fries left more to be desired, and The Original and The Nation failed to deliver the wow factor I was looking for. I sincerely hope their food and service will improve as they get up and running because the area needs a good burger joint. But, if I were to go again now, I think I’d ditch their namesake burgers and try out the chicken instead.