atlanta: just say yes to yeah! burger

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  • Atlanta: Just Say Yes to Yeah! Burger

    [Photographs: Todd Brock]

    Yeah! Burger 1168 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, GA 30318 (map); 404-496-4393; yeahburger.com

  • Cooking Method: Flattop

    Short Order: Outstanding-but-smallish build-your-own burgers in a funky and fun setting that's earning rave reviews in a burger-mad town

    Want Fries with That? Hand-cut fries are great, buttermilk onion rings are excellent, a half-and-half order of both is the best of both worlds

    Price: 6-oz. beef double stack, $6.49; w/cheese, $0.89, additional toppings up to $1 each

    These days, when a new burger joint opens up it's generally met with yawns and exaggerated eye-rolls. But the reactions were decidedly different around Atlanta when longtime culinary wiz Shaun Doty first fired up the flattop at his hip burger boutique in 2010. After cooking alongside the legendary Guenter Seeger at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, working overseas in both France and Belgium, and opening a string of successful restaurants upon returning to the ATL, Doty set his sights on the all-American classic with Yeah! Burger. And if you're wondering whether this fledgling competitor in the city's crowded burger scene is a worthy addition, look no further than the name that's plastered all over the place.

  • Yeah! Burger employs a build-your-own approach, offering a 5-ounce patty of turkey, bison, or veggiesor the most common choice, a 6-ounce double-stack of grass-fed beef raised locally by White Oak Pastures, the same farmers who supply nearby Miller Union. Choose your bun (wheat, gluten-free, or "Southern White") and then go wild with the toppings. You have six organic cheeses to pick from, eight free toppings, eight $1-or-under add-ons, and 15 sauces (all free) ranging from buttermilk ranch and Yeah! sauce (chipotle mayo) to exotic mixes like white BBQ, sunflower pesto, and bacon jam. Mix and match sides like hand-cut fries, buttermilk onion rings, and fried pickles, and you could eat here every night and not have a repeat meal for an awfully long time.

    From top left and working clockwise, that's a 50/50 order of fries and onion rings (an option that should be required by law at all places that serve both); a beef burger on white with cheddar and

  • Shaun's red chili; fried pickles; and a beef burger on white with pepper jack, avocado, and jalapenos. The burgers are small (that "6-oz. double stack" includes both patties), and as a result, cooked to medium unless "well done" is requested (you can't get them cooked less than medium).

    But don't let that stop you. Yeah! Burger is aptly named, since that's likely to be the first thing out of your mouth after the burger goes in. (Your actual response may vary. "Holy f**king s**t, that's awesome! Burger" wouldn't fit on the sign out front, though, so "Yeah! Burger" pretty much captures the essence of it.)

  • The "secret blend" of seasonings used before the meat hits the flattop is subtle enough to be overlooked entirely, so it's a testament to the outrageously-high quality of the beef that these burgers are as lip-smackingly good as they are. There's also a lot to be said about the bun. Squishy but substantial, the Southern White was allegedly custom-created by Doty and the geniuses at H&F Bread Co. (of Holeman & Finch fame) and is one of the best buns I have ever tasted. The toppings are all top-notch (sorry, couldn't resist) and added in sweet-spot proportion to the burger and bun, often creating a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts.

    My chili-cheddar burger, for example, was carefully chosen. I find the chili cheeseburger to be a great idea that usually falls flat because either A) it's great chili that overpowers everything else, or B) it's suck-ass chili that makes you regret ruining a perfectly good burger with it. (The Ghetto Burger at Ann's Snack Bar is the exception to thisand almost every otherrule.) And we all know that cheddar, while one of the all-time great cheeses, doesn't bring

  • a lot of bright-tasting gooeyness to the party. So the fact that I enjoyed my chili-cheddar burger should speak volumes about the exceptional ingredients they're using at Yeah!

    In fact, my only complaint is size-related. Scroll back up and check out that avocado-laced burg in the lower left corner of the quad-box. My brother's a big dude, but that burger in his mitts is tiny by any definition. My plan had been to cap off dinner with one of their seven milkshakes or a concrete, soft-serve ice cream with add-ins like Butterfinger bars, Reese's cups, or (God help me) dark chocolate-covered pretzels. But even after tearing through all of the food in that four-square photo, my brother and I were still hungry for more than dessert in a cup. So we bellied back up to the bar for Round Two. My brother ordered the supremely-sexy American-cheese cover-shot beauty at the top of this article, while I opted for mushrooms and Swiss with black peppercorn steak sauce.

  • We were clearly not the first to double-dip at Yeah!, because behind the register, Tasha didn't bat an eyelash. "They're small, aren't they?" That has its pros and cons. On the downside, I'll have to wait for my concrete. The plus? I'll work my way through Yeah! Burger's millions of combinations a little faster. About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and recently penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.