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A disturbing trend has emerged at the city’s burger joints: the burger bowl. In an attempt to appeal to carb-conscious diners, restaurants are offering bunless burger options served over a bed of greens. I sampled four of these nonstacked burgers and, sadly, none stacks up to a actual burger. And if you want a salad? Don’t go to a burger joint.
1. Bobby’s Burger Palace
Any burger on the menu can be turned into a “topless” burger salad. The greens dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette are the freshest of the contenders, and the caramelized patty has a perfectly pink medium rare center. (BBP and BGR are the only places in this ranking that let you choose how your burger is cooked.) Bonus points for the neatly stacked presentation with burger, cheese, tomato, (more) lettuce, and red onion.
2. BGR: The Burger Joint
For 99 cents extra, you can get any burger on a bed of mixed greens with tomato, onion, and cucumber. The cafeteriaesque salad comes undressed with a tear-open packet of balsamic or ranch on the side, so you can decide whether to drown those greens or not. Unfortunately, the tough meat and beyond-bite-sized tomato chunks made for an annoyingly difficult plastic fork and knife workout.
3. Bolt Burgers
The restaurant hadn’t received its delivery of baby field greens when I stopped by for lunch, so inferior romaine took its place. Having to wait much longer than a colleague who ordered a regular burger after me only made me resent this burger bowl more. On the plus side, props to Bolt Burgers for separating the lettuce from the burger in carryout orders so the salad doesn’t wilt. And the balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil dressing is the best of the bunch. But be warned: If you don’t order toppings on your patty, the salad contains no extra veggies, making this a sorry excuse for both a burger and a salad.
4. Five Guys
This burger bowl doesn’t even try. It’s literally a burger and toppings minus the bun and served in a bowl. No salad. No dressing. And, actually, it doesn’t even have a real bowl. No matter how many free toppings you add, this offering is doomed to feel like a popsicle without a stick. Also: raw jalapeños and sauteed onions are not appetizing if they’re not smushed between meat and bread.
Photos by Jessica Sidman