Bad Daddy's Burger Bar at Raleigh's Seaboard Station is a cornucopia for carnivores.
The multitude of choices on the menu includes the likes of a Bacon Cheeseburger on Steroids and the restaurant's signature Bad Daddy's Bad Ass Burger. While such hype tends to set you up for disappointment, these dishes live up to their swaggering monikers.
Your first thought upon seeing the Bad Ass arrive at your table may well be, "What was I thinking?" Not because it looks unappealing, but because it looks intimidating. After my server brought it, I stood a table knife next to the burger while pondering how to attack it. Standing more than half the height of the knife, it simultaneously mocked and tempted me.
But succumbing to temptation has always been easy, and after several minutes of pressing the burger down to a height that could actually be bitten, I got to work. It was the right choice.
The Bad Ass comes loaded with two 5-ounce ground beef and bacon patties that are piled with lettuce, tomato and English cheddar cheese and slathered with horseradish mayo. One other ingredient, too impressive not to list separately, is a generous helping of buttermilk fried bacon—several thick slices encrusted in a crunchy batter.
Not that you really need a side with such a monster burger, but an order of sweet potato fries arrives at a higher level of crispiness than most places achieve. A bit of chipotle ranch sauce adds a flavorful boost.
Excessive? Without a doubt. Enjoyable? Undeniably.
The Bacon Cheeseburger on Steroids doesn't come with actual steroids, but that's one of the few things it lacks. The steroids part of its name comes from the array of bacon that accompanies it. The burger is seasoned with bacon salt and includes three pieces of jalapeño bacon, three pieces of applewood smoked bacon and house-made bacon mayonnaise—plus Monterey Jack cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatoes and onion. For bacon lovers, it's like being in a meat candy store.
If beef is not your thing, Bad Daddy's makes an effort to provide options. Along with typical fare such as turkey burgers, chicken clubs and buffalo chicken sandwiches, it boasts an edamame cashew burger, served with a dollop of tzatziki (a yogurt-and-cucumber-based sauce), lettuce and tomato on a multigrain bun.
If you've given up meat but can't quite let go of the meat experience, you shouldn't order this. It doesn't taste or feel like an actual burger. It crumbles much more easily than meat, and the inside has a pronounced greenish tint. Fans of edamame may find the dish more appealing; its nutty flavor is the patty's dominant trait.
Salads including the Texican Chicken Salad (lettuce, buttermilk fried chicken, cilantro, red onion, tomato, black beans, tortilla strips, corn) and the Tree Hugger Salad (spinach, walnuts, strawberries, Mandarin orange, pecans, grapes, red onions) are among the other non-burger choices available.
Appetizers include standard fare such as Buffalo wings, sliders, onion rings and two varieties of nachos. Daddy's Nachos are what you might expect, though the distribution pattern is much more even than at many restaurants: No annoyingly huge island of toppings in the middle with dry, undressed chips circling the perimeter here. Irish Nachos feature Guinness beer cheese sauce, fried egg and bacon. Other choices include fried pickles, tater tots and chili.
Bad Daddy's also has an extensive beer menu. I suggest the Petaluma Wilco Tango Foxtrot if you can't decide.
One thing the Raleigh Bad Daddy's lacks that you can find at the three Charlotte locations is breakfast. One employee said the Raleigh location "may grow into it" but that they "wanted to concentrate on dinner while we're new."
Despite the non-beef alternatives, clearly Bad Daddy's draw is its burgers with attitude. Families, couples on dates, after-work groups on the patio and solo diners watching sports at the bar all seem to attest that nothing succeeds like excess.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Bigger is badder."