Smashburger (2565 Fair Oaks Blvd.), a burger restaurant that opened Oct. 26, and Jacks Urban Eats (545 Munroe St.), which has been open for a few years, are very popular restaurants in Loehmann’s Plaza among high schoolers.
I go to Loehmann’s Plaza often, and since both restaurants offer a variety of sandwiches, I decided to compare the two.
Walking into Smashburger with freshman Anna Frankel, I immediately noticed that the restaurant had a strong red theme; the bright-red booths, hanging lamps and letters on the opposing wall stating “smash” caught our eyes.
The bright-red theme, ordering screens and “smash dash” pre-ordered pickup line made Smashburger seem like a regular fast-food restaurant, but the booths suggested a bit of an old diner feeling. I liked the darker lighting rather than the glaring lights found in most fast-food restaurants.
The atmosphere in Jacks Urban Eats was very different. The blue-and-green theme, combined with the relaxed music and retro paintings on canvas and wood, makes it feel more homey.
We ran into freshman Briana Davies in Smashburger, who had been to the restaurant before and liked the food and how the restaurant was set up. She said it’s definitely her top place to go in Loehmann’s Plaza, although the excess of friendly employees makes her feel awkward.
“Sometimes there can be 10 employees just sitting around while we eat, which is kind of weird,” Briana said.
Jacks Urban Eats is a lot larger than Smashburger, and there were about twice as many customers. (We dined around 1 p.m. at both restaurants, a little past the lunch rush.) Unlike Smashburger, Jacks doesn’t have table service; customers receive their food at the cash register, get their silverware, drinks and napkins and sit down.
I enjoyed the calm ambience of Jacks more than the rushed feeling of Smashburger, but the service was better at Smashburger.
There were many burger options to pick from at Smashburger, but Anna and I chose to share a Classic Smash burger ($4.99). We also ordered a harvest salad ($5.99), a regular side of french fries ($2.09) and a Haagen Dazs strawberry milkshake ($3.99).
The salad arrived only a few minutes after we ordered it, and the rest came a few minutes after that.
The food didn’t taste bad, but it was ordinary and unimpressive. The salad had too much dressing, the milkshake tasted like strawberry ice cream, the skinny fries were a little too salty, the cheeseburger was like any other greasy fast-food cheeseburger and the Smash Sauce (which I had assumed would be their own unique dressing) just tasted like mustard.
At Jacks, I ordered the Jack’s Classic sandwich ($7.95) and a regular side of fries ($2), while Anna ordered a harvest salad ($8.50).
The Jack’s Classic tasted better than the Classic Smash; the lettuce in the sandwich and the salad were better quality. And the fries were thicker, which I prefer.
Anna said she liked the ingredients in this salad better than the other, but that this salad was also overdressed.
“I took a bite of the salad and it was basically all dressing,” Anna said. The food was of better quality, but more expensive.
There were also more choices at Jacks. Besides different types of sandwiches, fries and salads, Jacks offers mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, a Soup of the Day, vegetables and various types of meat such as fish and chicken.
If you’re looking for flavorful variety, check out Jacks. But for a cheap bite to eat, go to Smashburger.
—By Larkin Barnard-Bahn