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REVIEW: Smitty’s Garage: Burgers that Actually Live Up to the Hype?

Inside+the+76th+and+Dodge+location+of+Smitty%27s+Garage.+%28James+Heldridge%29
Inside the 76th and Dodge location of Smitty's Garage. (James Heldridge)

Inside the 76th and Dodge location of Smitty's Garage. (James Heldridge)

Inside the 76th and Dodge location of Smitty's Garage. (James Heldridge)

Nathanial George, Jay Journal Staff

Jay Journal photographer James Heldridge and I have been long on the hunt for the best burger in Omaha. A quick Google search will tell you that Oklahoma-based Smitty’s Garage Burgers & Beer is one of the most popular burger joints in the metro. With locations on 76th and Dodge and at Oak View Mall, both Smitty’s have ratings well over 4 out of 5 stars according to Google Places. While Smitty’s lives up to the hype, there is much room for improvement on all fronts.

Upon entering the restaurant, you’re greeted by cheery music. The inside is clean, welcoming, and very red (as is their official color). It is obvious that Smitty’s is a laid back, casual place that is family-friendly while not as informal as a fast food restaurant.

Sticky Finger burger - Jay Journal

Sticky Finger burger (James Heldridge)

Two components were consistent among all three burgers: the patty and bun. The Angus patties were well done yet juicy, producing the taste of a good burger without the excessive grease. The beef itself played a large role in all of the burgers, working with each topping to take the taste to a whole new level. If beef isn’t your thing, Smitty’s has a wide variety of other meats: Angus beef, turkey, bison, and grilled chicken. If you aren’t into meat, they even have a garlic quinoa vegan patty. Note that some of these “premium” patties come with a $1-2 upcharge.

The buttered and toasted buns were by far our favorite component of the burgers. Squishy yet firm enough to hold everything in between, the buns were more than just mere bread. They tasted amazing, fresh, and melted in our mouths along with the succulent beef and everything else in between. Words can’t fully describe their awesomeness. You have to eat it to believe it.

James had the Sticky Finger burger, complete with peanut butter, bacon bits, sweet jalapeño relish, and cheddar cheese. The peanut butter and burger don’t seem to go together at first, but they’re actually a match made in heaven. The highlight of the Sticky Finger was the “scrumptious” peanut butter, perfectly proportioned in unison with savor of the beef and the punch of the jalapeños.

I tried both the fried onion and mushroom swiss burgers. The fried onion features thinly sliced onion cooked into the patty, topped with mustard, pickle, and american cheese. It’s the classic American burger, except with a ton of fried onions. And by a ton, I mean a ton. There were too many onions. It may be the best Smitty’s burger for onion lovers, but others may find them overwhelming. The burger could benefit from some added toppings like lettuce and tomato that could potentially balance out the strong onions, or simply they could use less onions.

The mushroom swiss is easily my favorite burger out of the two. It has garlic aioli, lettuce, tomato, onion, sautéed shrooms, and swiss cheese. The highlighted mushrooms and cheese compliment each other, along with the juicy patty, to execute the iconic “mushroom swiss” taste. Unlike the fried onion burger, the mushroom swiss features crucial lettuce and tomatoes that milds the stronger garlic and onions. Every component compliments the others, from bun to bun. Everything went right with this burger.

Smitty’s has more than burgers: they also have sandwiches, tacos, and a slew of various fries and appetizers. We happened to also try a few of these other options. The garlic parmesan truffle fries which were well-sized yet a tad burnt and greasy. The loaded queso was delicious, with the hatch green chiles adding both amazing flavor and a bit of a kick.

Not only is the food scrumptious, but it also comes with value. With burgers ranging between $4.99 and $8.99, Smitty’s is a great place to have a good eat without burning a hole in your wallet.

While not everything may not be perfect at Smitty’s Garage, many of their tasty options satisfy customers for a quick and easy bite. They have multiple locations with endless choices on their menus. There is a niche for everyone at Smitty’s; the hardest part is finding what suits you.

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