I confess, after a hard day at work, my go-to meal is a cheeseburger. But I don't eat one unless it's organic OR from a very reputable source or so famous that I must try at least one (like Shake Shack; still on my list to try is an In-N-Out Burger, unavailable on the East Coast). For a while, I would traipse into any Ted's Montana Grill for a bison burger and that was the top of my best burger list. But now, oh, now, I have a new favorite--and the great news is it's from a chain (and there are a few of them sprouting up around the East Coast). It's called Elevation Burger. Perhaps because it has elevated fast food to a whole new level--my level!!!!
The chain's motto is "Ingredients Matter," and everything is organic, grass fed, free range, and all that good stuff. But as y'all know, taste matters too. And let's just say in a blind test between a Shake Shack burger and Elevation Burger, I would pick the Elevation Burger every time. It's just the right thickness (not too thick, although, I've been known to order a double). It's juicy, salty but not too salty, rich but not too rich. It's awesome. I get mine with Elevation Sauce, cheese (of course), and pickles. It's not gourmet, it's fast and filling and totally YUM. The bun is just right too; it kind of melts into the burger. (There is nothing worse than a bun that commands too much attention on a burger.) You actually can order your Elevation Burger wrapped in lettuce if you are going bunless, but hey...I don't eat them every day and those buns are damn good.
And the fries, oh, the fries. Skin on, fried in olive oil, organic potatoes. They are just right, especially with the organic Heinz 57 ketchup slathered on them.
And Elevation Burger is a fast-food restaurant. You order at the counter and they bring out your meal on cool metal trays in less than five minutes.
Now a note about price: I'm not a price shopper. I'd order the $32 burger at DB Bistro if I could stomach the foie gras stuffed into it (YUK--not yum). But a cheeseburger is only $4.89 in Manhattan. Fries are $2.59, and it's a generous serving. So for less than 10 bucks, you can get an all-organic, deeply satisfying and tasty, comforting, and delicious meal. They even have salads, but I haven't tried them yet.
The great news is that Elevation Burger is spreading fast. There are locations in nine states, including California and Texas. You can even become a franchisee! (For about five minutes, I seriously considered it.) Check it out if you can. I know you'll love it. And yes, they have veggie burgers, too! (From organic, soil-fed, free-range vegetables.)
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com