Big City Burgers opened in late November, bringing yet another go-to choice in the ever-growing lineup of great downtown lunch spots.
Who/What: Husband and wife Harry Bookey and Pamela Bass-Bookey teamed with other investors to open the spot, which took over the former digs of Battani’s Pizza in Capital Square. Bookey and Bass-Bookey also have been involved in Centro and Dos Rios.
Atmosphere: The sleek and minimally decorated venue, with its white and kiwi-green color scheme, gets plenty of energy from the filled-to-capacity room. Expansive windows look out onto the downtown streetscape, and the view will only get better with spring and summer, when the sidewalk area will bustle with outdoor diners.
Menu: As its name suggests, Big City specializes in burgers and salads, but that sounds much more minimal than menu actually is. Burgers can be topped with oodles of add-ons such as sautéed mushrooms or onions, avocados, fried prosciutto, apple wood-smoked bacon or a fried egg — not to mention a great variety of cheese options, from Asiago to goat cheese.
Salads are made with your choice of greens, plus dozens of topping choices — you get five included in the $6.50 price of the salad. Choices include the usual suspects (cherry tomatoes, carrots, red onion), but with plenty of other options, such as beets, candied walnuts, avocados, spicy peanuts and wasabi peas, you can create a one-of-a-kind salad. For $3 to $5 more, you can top the salad with protein, such as marinated skirt steak, grilled salmon or seared tuna.
The restaurant further distinguishes itself by its commitment to using organic, antibiotic- and hormone-free beef, free-range poultry and locally sourced foods whenever possible. Burgers are made from beef that has been ground fresh daily.
First bites: Although the burgers come cooked to a temperature between medium and medium-well, even medium-rare fans should be delighted by this top-quality, flavor-packed, succulent-yet-greaseless beef. The thin fries are also hard to beat, especially when dusted with Asiago and fresh parsley and drizzled with a judicious amount of truffle oil. Unadorned fries are also available.
Salads stand out here, too. Every bite packed a flavorful green — whether notably bitter or peppery, or pleasantly mild. My creation included candied walnuts, beets, red onions and scallions, tossed with the perfect amount of a good creamy roasted red-pepper/garlic dressing and topped with sesame crusted-tuna.
Bottom line: Ambitious yet casual food in an upbeat, energetic atmosphere.