The Habit Burger Grill
Charburger with cheese, crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, caramelized onions, and pickles on a toasted bun
Golden Chicken Sandwich – Fresh, filleted chicken breast, hand-breaded with house-made seasoned flour and buttermilk, cooked to a juicy golden brown and topped with creamy, spiced red pepper sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles
Launched in Santa Barbara California in 1969 by two brothers, and since having spread to more than ten States with four locations dotting Las Vegas beginning in 2016, The Habit Burger Grill had been a source of some curiosity ever since opening down the street and some calling it the best burger under $5 in the city, Consumer Reports also awarding them the title of “Best Tasting Burger in America” back in 2014.
Slightly different from the hundreds of locations up and down California, the local Habits all franchise operations while those in California are considered ‘corporate’ entities, it was mid-day on Friday that a stop was made at the Blue Diamond location where the line was just two persons long, a man easily identifiable as the General Manager teaching employees how to work one of the register functions immediately greeting all guests with a big smile, the menu pretty self-explanatory with Burgers, Sandwiches, Salads, Shakes and Sides.
Using a vibrating pager system to summon diners, a similar situation to that at Shake Shack given the fact that each item is made to order, it was in passing on the Tri-Tip that is offered ‘medium, medium-well, or well’ that an order of two Sandwiches plus a side and Shake took place, the Charburger with Cheese complimentary and taken without Mayo as a result of signing up for their free online “Char-club.”
Featuring a clean design and condiment station with all the expected, plus several styles of Peppers, a quick look at Beverages also shows Habit to offer their own housemade Lemonade alongside Coca-Cola products, a quick Buzz from the little square summoning diners back to the counter where a weighty tray contained everything presented nicely, a bit of paper left on the Straw and each Sandwich half-wrapped and Insta-gram worthy.
Starting with the Onion Rings, a relatively simple item for even a fast-food kitchen to execute well, The Habit improves on most by cutting their Rings uniform before dredging them in Buttermilk and frying each one crisp, a total lack of oil making each one crunchy and flavorful, much like the well-seasoned Chicken Breast that is spiced, seasoned and breaded on site before being placed on a grilled bun with California-fresh Produce and a couple Pickle Rounds, the recommended Red Pepper Sauce a worthy addition to a Sandwich that not only outsizes and tastes better than that at Chick-Fil-a, but also makes the version at Shake Shack seem somewhat boring.
Moving on to the Charburger, only the second “fast-food” or “quick-casual” option tasted in almost a decade, those expecting a Restaurant quality Burger are likely to be a little disappointed by the thin patty that none-the-less contains a lot of flavor and good grind for just $3.25 and an extra sixty cents for a slice of Cheddar, the Caramelized Onions definitely adding a lot of ‘oomph’ without making the Sandwich too messy while the Milkshake served next to it unfortunately did little to be impressive, the ‘Coffee’ flavor substantially muted by that of Chocolate though the base was homogenous and quite creamy.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: Good for what it is, and far better than most of what Panera or Chipotle is serving at a price that is far less, The Habit Burger Grill certainly takes a major step in upgrading the sort of stuff served at Burger King, McDonalds or Wendy’s though the relatively small menu may leave those looking for more variety or bargain-basement dining unimpressed.
RECOMMENDED: Golden Chicken Sandwich, Onion Rings.
AVOID: Mocha Shake.
TIP: As mentioned above, new sign-ups for the Char-Club get a free Charburger with Cheese, no questions asked and no additional purchase necessary.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.