In February 2018, majority ownership of US-based burger restaurant Smashburger was bought by Filipino fast food giant Jollibee. So, does that mean they are bringing this premium American hamburger chain to the Philippines?
To find out a little bit of what a Metro Manila Smashburger menu might be like, I visited a US based location…for the first time.
Not All Burgers are Created Equal
Believe it or not, there are actually two separate tiers of burgers. The regular, inexpensive burgers can be bought at fastfood chains, and those high quality restaurant burgers.
But Smashburger, despite being a chain, is considered a higher quality burger. The US restaurant industry calls this the ‘Better Burger’ market. You will definitely end up paying more, but also getting a higher quality meal in return. In the States, this market is highly successful but is already crowded with competition. Here in the Philippines, Zark’s is perhaps currently the only restaurant chain in this category, so it is definitely the best comparison of what to expect in pricing.
So What is the Smashburger Food Like?
The Smashburger menu in the US is full of pre-designed premium burgers like the “Spicy Jalapeńo Baja” and the “Buffalo & Blue Cheese”. The names alone are enough to make your mouth water. According to a sign at the bottom on the menu, the resto’s name actually comes from the process of smashing the ball of freshly ground beef onto the hot grill.
I skipped the build-your-own burger option and ordered the “Truffle Mushroom Swiss” from the premium burger list, which came topped with truffle mayonnaise, aged Swiss cheese, and sautéed mushrooms. I ordered a side of Smash Fries as well. They were golden brown, crispy, with a hint of rosemary and garlic flavor. The fries were so delicious that I did not even need to add salt.
While this burger wasn’t huge, it is enough that you won’t leave hungry. The beef is well seasoned, the mushrooms are fresh, and the melted Swiss cheese is oh so delicious. The truffle oil-infused mayo added its own signature flavor. It was very tasty; I would say that it is one of the better fast-food burgers that I have tasted!
Next, I sampled the “BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar” burger which sat much taller because I got the double-stack option (that was a mistake, it was way too big for me) which also came with a load of fresh veggies piled on top. Onions, lettuce, and tomato with melted cheddar cheese were the toppings on this double-decker meal. I ordered a side of fried, sliced pickles too! It was tasty—the beef every bit as juicy as the first burger, but it was a bit tall, and messy to eat. Also, the flavor is pretty common for a burger. While it was very tasty, it wasn’t very exciting.
The fried pickles were tangy and crispy. They made a nice complement to the beef flavor and came in a generous sized order.
What Can We Expect on the Local Menu?
While I can’t tell you how much the burgers will cost in case they do come to Manila, just know that a burger fries and drink at Smashburger will cost about two to three times what the same would cost at Burger King or McDonald’s.
Filipino Burger Flavors We’d Like to See
What Filipino flavors do you think would make a delicious burger? I’m throwing out a few suggestions here—hopefully Smashburger will listen! How about a…
Beef Sinigang Burger with freshly ground beef with a tangy garlic-tamarind sauce, garnished with bok choy and green beans,
Beef Calderetta Burger with onions, sweet green pepper, thinly sliced carrots and a tomato liver paste,
or maybe a…
Spicy Beef Salpicado Burger (Christmas Time Only) with a juicy beef patty with a soy-Worcestershire glaze, onions, and topped with a dusting of green spring onion and red chili flakes to celebrate the season.
What do you think of my suggestions? Can you think of more options that Filipinos might want to see on the menu?
As I mentioned earlier, Jollibee and Smashburger have not yet announced plans to open locations in the Metro. So, for now, all we can do is wait…and drool. I will be sure to write a follow story up when official plans are announced, though!
What kind of Filipino burger flavors do you want to taste? Share with us some suggestions in the comments!