First Bite: Graffiti Burger
It's nearing high noon in a cholesterol-fueled cowtown shootout. Because shortly after Five Guys not from around these parts started laying claim to local burger turf - flaunting the notches in their fry baskets and slaying our citizens with their greasebombs - some hometown hamburger hombres have decided to face down the out-of-towners by giving them a taste of their own condiment-dripping medicine.
If you're not a fast-food desperado, then maybe that opening paragraph sounds loco, so let me clear things up. The much-loved, D.C.-area-based Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchise has built its multi-state-empire by paring down the standard fast-food menu to just a few items, then, for about the same price, delivering a far-higher-quality product than their bigger, drive-thru-oriented rivals.
Borrowing this same basic formula a few months after Five Guys infiltrated our area is the Columbus-based Graffiti Burger, which just opened its second shop in Grandview. I recently stopped by to check it out.
The Grandview Graffiti is a remade Friendly's-turned-Starbucks operation. Now the place is painted in Buckeye shades on the outside and - as befits its name - it's tagged all over on the inside. Spray-painted wall-to-wall in a sure hand, the broad graffiti-style artwork proudly honors its locale as well as local sports icons.
The "cuisine," which is very good fast food (at least sort of fast -my orders took about 10 minutes during busy lunch rush), honors a carefree time in America when burgers, shakes and fries were staples of youth and "happy days" fun.
Accordingly, the irresistible namesake sandwich ($5) was a messy mound of kiddie deliciousness. Two thickish, fat-dripping, never-frozen, made-to-order, crisply grilled Angus beef burgers were dressed with melted cheese plus creamy, sweet, crunchy and acidic accents in the forms of Graffiti sauce (tartar-like), zesty house slaw (good - oil-based and celery-seeded), tomato, onions and nice pickles. The jaw-challenger came on an A-1 segmented, puffy, buttery-toasted, locally baked Auddino's bun.
So did the worthy No Burger, Burger - a literally beet-red but mostly black bean patty likely based on the popular Northstar Cafe model. It came with provolone, Graffiti sauce, pickles and more.
The fries ($2.50 - blocky, hand-cut, skin-on, not greasy, dark golden brown) and a vanilla shake (thick yet sippable, with real vanilla flavor) were also top-notch, making everything I tried at Graffiti something I'd consume again - whenever I felt the unserious need for well-made junk food.
So is this town big enough for both Graffiti and Five Guys? I think so, pardner, but things will heat up all over again when the upcoming Burgers, Dogs and Fries place gets cooking soon Downtown. Stay tuned.
1505 W. Fifth Ave., Grandview