A simple burger can be a very fine thing. At The Burger Stand, newly opened on the corner of Burro Alley just up from the Lensic, it is.
We enjoyed two burger versions and a catfish po’boy, plus various sides, in a pig-out lunch that was marred only by the absence of dessert. Not that we needed it.
One of my guests went for the upgraded classic burger, made with Kobe beef, and garnished with the likes of truffle butter and pickled red onions ($12).
It was stupendous. First off, it was cooked perfectly to medium-rare order. We’ve sampled a lot of burgers in town and mostly found hit or miss on cooking specs; The Burger Stand has it down.
As for the truffle butter, I can’t comment. A lot of places in Santa Fe boast truffle trimmings – butter, fries, who knows what. Maybe my palate isn’t trained to the taste of this expensive, esoteric ingredient, but my feeling is, I have yet to taste a truffle. Perigord, here we come? Meanwhile, we enjoyed the pickled onions and the tomato-garlic sauce, a nice variation on ketchup.
My own choice, the black-and-blue burger with blue cheese and apple chutney ($10.50) was equally scrumptious. I love blue cheese (not everyone’s favorite) and there was plenty of it on this burger, also delivered spot-on medium rare. The apple chutney was a sweet-sour counterpoint and unusual.
My other guest, a Southerner, opted for the catfish po’boy ($9). It too was very, very good. The Burger Stand gets full marks for its Creole slaw atop the sandwich: mayo, pickles and a little extra spice, the perfect variation on the classic fish accompaniment, tartar sauce.
We shared three sides: duck fat fries ($3), sweet potato fries ($3.50) and onion rings ($4.50). All were excellent: hot, crispy and perfectly cooked. We could have gone healthier with the smaller versions of The Burger Stand’s wedge salad with blue cheese dressing or the more intriguing quinoa salad with arugula, apricots, nuts and an apricot vinaigrette ($5 each).
Still to try: fish and chips, and a number of sausage combos, including green chile pork, as well as hot dogs. You might not expect it, but The Burger Stand does offers vegetarian possibilities, including a falafel sandwich, a lentil burger and a mushroom sandwich.
As noted, dessert isn’t included on the menu. If we hadn’t been stuffed from mostly finishing our entrees, we might have considered the stand-in: a tempting list of shakes and floats. These range from the classics, a root beer float and a vanilla malt ($4 and $5, respectively), to such exotica as an Oreo Avalanche and something called Casbah Cookie Dough (each $5). Shakes, we presumed.
Root beer floats and chocolate malts were childhood treats, only ever doled out on long vacation road trips to punctuate the afternoon doldrums. What we remember about them was that they were cold and delicious – and nearly a meal in themselves. We may drop back one of these hot afternoons just for another treat.
The Burger Stand is minimalist in its decor – a row of stools at the counter, a few tables, some nostalgic art. It was just crowded enough during a late lunch hour to be interesting without being overly noisy. On a decidedly non-traditional note, it offers beer on tap, as well as a dazzling assortment of exotic beers and microbrews.
The Burger Stand certainly isn’t the first downtown eatery to stake its reputation on America’s classic sandwich. Over the years, Real Burger, Bert’s Burger Bowl and Santa Fe Bite (the reincarnation of the Bobcat), as well as Bang Bite, a food truck, have all opened within blocks and, if departed, have left only after decades-long success. The Burger Stand is worthy competition.