First Bite: Graffiti Burger

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

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.

Graffiti Burger

1505 W. Fifth Ave., Grandview