Does the Triangle really need another burger joint? Considering the number of places where you can get a hunk of meat on a bun, probably not. Still, you may have a difficult time persuading the lines of people at Raleigh's BurgerFi to agree.
A recent entrant in the local battle for your burger bucks, BurgerFi is part of a Florida-based chain. Visit the North Raleigh location—in a shopping center on Wake Forest Road behind Trader Joe's—on a weeknight around dinnertime or on a weekend afternoon and you'll likely find a line of eight to 10 people waiting to order. (Fortunately, the line moves quickly.)
The burgers are billed as "all natural, grass-fed beef." My favorite is the B.A.D. Burger, whose letters stand for "breakfast all day." This B.A.D. boy comes stacked high with Angus beef, American cheese, hickory bacon, fried egg, hash browns and grilled onions. The flavors blend well, with each ingredient playing its role without dominating the others.
The Ultimate Cheeseburger may not completely live up to its name, but with two beef patties smothered in both Swiss and blue cheese, it makes a valiant run at earning the title.
The beef in the burgers is flavorful and fortunately free of the processed taste common at other chain burger joints. I wouldn't label the burgers gourmet, but they certainly rank a notch above average. (An amusing if gimmicky touch: All of the burger buns have the restaurant's name branded into them.)
If you're not in a burger mood, try a hot dog. The Wagyu Kobe Dog has a good mouth feel, tasting meaty not fatty. Other options include a Texas chili cheese dog (plentiful napkins are advised), a New York dog or a Chicago dog.
You can request an ample assortment of free and premium toppings to dress your burgers and dogs. Most that I encountered, such as the jalapeño peppers, tasted fresh and hand-prepared. The lone exception was the sauerkraut; I've found better in a jar from the supermarket.
For sides, you can't go wrong with the onion rings. The outside is crispy without being overly breaded or greasy. Each ring is so huge that when you see your order you'll be tempted to share with your companions. The first bite will remove that temptation.
Fries come in a variety of styles, especially if you discover the "secret" menu (although considering it is printed on the back of the regular menu, it doesn't take a high-level security clearance to find it). Covered with Parmesan and a garlic aioli, the Urban Fries are a zesty bet.
Should you have room for dessert, frozen custard cups, cones, sundaes and "concretes" (extra-dense custard with your choice of mix-ins) make up the majority of your options, but don't overlook the red velvet cupcakes.
You're not limited to soda, although thanks to the "freestyle" Coca Cola machine, you have a smorgasbord of soda flavors to choose from. There is also a surprisingly nice selection of seasonal craft beers, including Red Oak and Foothills Brewing on draft and Newcastle and Blue Point Toasted Lager in bottles. Available wines include Rex Goliath, Woodbridge and Robert Mondavi. A variety of rich frozen custard shakes ranging from banana to rainbow (multiple flavors swirled together) are also available.
There is also a location in Cary with another said to be coming soon to Chapel Hill. BurgerFi may be joining an already congested field of competitors, but its packed dining area demonstrates it is distinguishing itself from the other chains.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Chain letters."