Chef’s Burger at South Restaurant – Sacramento, CA
Burger Photo Gallery (click pictures to enlarge)
Find this Burger
2005 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95818
Phone: (916) 382-9722
On the Web: http://weheartfriedchicken.com
South restaurant opened in the Southside Park neighborhood of Sacramento on December 16, 2014 without a huge media fanfare. I get the feeling that suited the owners just fine. At South, you can look forward to dining in an intentionally unassuming, casual setting that’s just perfect for a neighborhood restaurant.
Sometimes defining your restaurant’s brand is less about telling people who you are and more about being clear what you are not. Yes, they definitely want to share the traditional Southern dishes from recipes that have been passed down from the owner’s family. No, they aren’t here to “elevate” Southern cuisine or compete for any national awards or magazine covers. As their weheartfriedchicken.com website URL states, they simply love fried chicken. They aren’t boasting it’s the best in town, but it is the one their family has enjoyed for generations and you can tell by the smiles from the front of the house staff: they are excited to share it with you.
So what do you try when you visit the new Southern restaurant in town? The crispy fried chicken? The flavorful gumbo? Shrimp and Grits? Nope. Apparently, if you’re a burger junkie me, you go for the burger. Twice. Without regrets.
Nothing ruins a great burger experience faster than bun overload and this bun was nothing short of excellent. Like the goldilocks of buns. It’s a brioche, but definitely less puffy and sporting a wider diameter than other brioche burger buns I’ve seen in Sacramento. The thinner height made it easier to achieve a near perfect burger to bun ratio without having to resort to a super thick patty. The 80/20 ground chuck patty still clocked in at just under a half pound, but because it’s spread out over a wider area, it feels more manageable.
The smoky aroma of the confit bacon and the medium cooked beef hit me on the first bite. The next leek and shallot jam filled bite was a bit sweeter. That’s when the shoulders start shaking. It could’ve been the “Survival of the Fittest” Mobb Deep track playing in the background, but my head started nodding when I scored a unifying bite of everything this cheeseburger had to offer. The spice from the aioli, the salt from the bacon, the savoriness of the beef and melted havarti cheese, married with the sweetness of the leek shallot jam make for a flavor collaboration of epic proportions.
With a new restaurant, you’ve gotta be ready for changes as the chef adjusts their recipes and hones in on the consistency. The first burger I enjoyed featured just the essentials: bun, meat, cheese, bacon, a few pickles and that leek shallot jam that makes you want to sing like Guy. The second time I noticed a bit of shredded lettuce on top. Both were memorable, but if I had to choose, I think the lettuce free version might win by a smidgen. As Future might say, this is both a simple burger and a well thought out burger at the same damn time!
Listen. I’d pay $5 just to get access to the algorithm of their Pandora station. Hands down, the best music playlist I’ve heard in a Sacramento restaurant. It’s easily on par with PYT in Philly and Plum Bar in Oakland. While dining, I was treated to tracks like “Auditorium” from Mos Def/Slick Rick, “Survival of the Fittest” from Mobb Deep and “Pacifics” from Digable Planets played at just the right volume. You can have a conversation and still bob your head to the beat. Saying a place has a “good vibe” can sound corny, but honestly, you know it when you feel it. This is the kind of place you can grab some bomb food with friends and feel comfortable relaxing for awhile.
Yes, I eat more than burgers. I also sampled the fried chicken, rice balls, grits and gumbo on my visits. Let’s just say I came for the burger and I’ll definitely stick around for the well executed modern and classic Southern dishes coming from their kitchen. Because you can dine in or take your order to go, I can see South fitting easily into the lunch and dinner rotation for the nearby neighborhood and Downtown Sacramento crowd.
- Burger Juiciness (because a dry burger is just wrong) 9
- Bun Goodness (a quality meat holder is essential) 9
- Burger Flavor (is the meat itself extra tastilicious) 9
- Burger Value (you can pay too much for a .99 cent burger and an amazing burger can seem like a steal at $20…and vice versa) 8
- B Factor (this is that super subjective thing that makes each review unique. That gene se qua, that something special about the experience. Could be the special sauce, could be the atmosphere of the joint, could be the ridiculous shakes that you paired the burger with, or it could be some french fries that make you wanna cry) 10
Total Score: 45pts