The Burger is Back

It might have started long ago elsewhere, but in Raleigh and the rest of the Triangle, the burger is back. Fast-growing national chains like Five Guys and BurgerFi have made their way into the market and now local hot spots are sprouting up – each with their own spin: Tribeca Tavern, a moderately up-scale establishment that grinds their own beef and features their own brews (along with others, including a decent selection of NC brews); Bull City Burger – a walk-up and order establishment serving locally sourced, grass-fed beef, sporting an in-house brewery and unique wine bar situated in a revitalized downtown Durham; Chuck’s – part of Ashley Christensen’s three-headed restaurant experiment in downtown Raleigh; Only Burger, a burger stand that started (and still exists) as a food truck; and the subject of this review, Charlotte-based Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar (nee Big Daddy’s) – a specialty burger shop with full bar, end-capping a new structure in the Seaboard Station area of downtown Raleigh.

At first glance, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar (111 Seaboard Ave, Raleigh; $10-$13) seems like a retread of a familiar concept – a bar that serves burgers. Novel idea, right? But the name and ambiance imply something different – almost as if the founders wanted to flip that concept on its head. Start with a great burger, add myriad options and serve some drinks along with it. The menu, as one member of my dinner party commented, seems to require the time to consume at least one beer to sort out. We witnessed this first hand when another fellow diner ordered a side salad – the options seemingly sprouting at every turn from his lettuce base (two choices), two “toppings”, a fruit, a meat, and a dressing! The burger options were similarly mesmerizing, offering near endless combinations of toppings and even patty meat mixtures.

Beef lovers eagerly anticipating the ruling on the quality of the hamburgers will be disappointed – I opted for a black bean burger, my current obsession when visiting spots that offer one. Though it is also possible to create your own, the menu standard Cantina (with the addition of jalapeƱos) was enough to satisfy my black bean hankering. As I alluded to earlier, I’ve tried a fair number of black bean burgers in the area and this one certainly found a place near the top. I rarely take an opportunity to jump on the growing sweet potato fries bandwagon, but I strayed from the norm here again. I certainly wasn’t disappointed with my choice, though I will admit that the Bad Daddy’s version of sweet potatoes served french style didn’t stray too far from what I’ve had elsewhere.

And that’s ultimately where I ended up in my overall impression of Bad Daddy’s. The burger’s are great1 – maybe not any better than the best burgers we’ve had in the area, but certainly not discernibly worse. However, the options that Bad Daddy’s provide are so impressive, it’s hard to imagine any burger lover wouldn’t be able to build the burger of their dreams.

Rating: Notable.

  1. According to my cohorts. Among my meat eating dinner party, the average score for the burgers was 7/10