The “coming soon” banner is up on the building facade and hiring is underway at The Habit Burger Grill. This will be the first Pierce County location for the California-based burger chain specializing in gourmet flame-grilled burgers.
The 84-seat Tacoma location will open at North 26th and Pearl Streets.
People frequently ask when it’s opening. They also want to know, “What’s on the menu?”
I took one for the team and executed covert field trips to the Kent and Silverdale locations, the closest Habit Burgers in the region.
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When does Tacoma open? Tauseef Razaque, franchise co-owner with business partner Abdullah Jafrey, said training will begin around Feb. 7 and they’re expecting a Feb. 14 opening if all goes as planned.
They also own: They’re the franchise owners of The Habit Burger Grills in Kent, Silverdale, Tukwila and Shoreline.
More to come? “There are definitely negotiations with various landlords in cities in the South Sound area, but currently no other ones are confirmed as of today. Our next two locations will be Issaquah and Ballard opening right before summer,” said Razaque.
The concept: Fast food service and seating with upscale food options that won’t break your budget. Is it as cheap as Frugal’s? Nope. Pricing is closer to my favorite Tacoma trifecta for fast food burgers: Shake Shake Shake, Red Wagon Burgers and Burger Broiler. Of those, Burger Broiler is a better apples-apples comparison. It also serves flame-grilled burgers.
Ordering: After ordering at the counter, the cashier hands over a pager that buzzes when your order is ready. Ugh, I hate those things. The dining room is big, so I understand yelling order numbers isn’t practical. However, I’m looking to disconnect from electronics when I dine out, not be put in charge of something that requires monitoring.
Decor: Not fancy, but more upscale and modern than a typical burger joint, with a soundtrack that sounded like the greatest hits of Gen X. Hello, Pat Benatar. I missed you.
The menu: Six varieties of flame-grilled burgers, called charburgers, with myriad topping options ($3.65 to $6.25, a la carte). Plus a la carte sandwich choices of tri-tip steak sandwich ($7.55), chicken sandwiches ($6.25 to $7.55), chargrilled tuna steak sandwich ($7.55) or a veggie burger ($5.55). Also, salads ($4.19 to $7.99). Sides include French fries ($2.29), onion rings ($2.55), tempura-fried green beans ($2.99) and sweet potato fries ($2.99).
Deal seekers: Get the charburger combo with a burger, fries and drink for $7.99.
For kids: Burgers, nuggets or grilled cheese combo meals ($4.59).
Burgers: I like my beef fresh, hot, seasoned and flame-licked. Nailed it. The plain charburger had caramelized onions swiped onto the top bun, which was toasted, and a juicy, intensely beefy-tasting patty tucked into the middle with tomato, shredded lettuce, pickle chips and a smear of mayo on the bottom bun ($3.65). Fresh onions also available in lieu of caramelized.
The BBQ bacon charburger had melted American atop the patty with a smear of tangy barbecue sauce and bacon just above that ($4.95). Lettuce, pickle chips and mayo were layered on the bottom bun.
Alert! Those who dislike cold vegetable condiments on the bottom bun are going to skewer the construction.
Fries and rings: Hot-and-crispy, medium-width fries and crunchy, breaded onion rings, but otherwise unremarkable.
Red Wagon has better, crunchier onion rings that are hand-dredged. I like Burger Broiler’s slightly skinnier, fresh-cut fries better. Tempura green beans were dynamite, though, and an offering not typical of fast food.
Shakes: Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, vanilla mocha ($3.75). Strawberry was made with syrup, not fresh fruit.
That tri-tip sandwich: For the premium price of $7.55, I expected more. This was an OK steak sandwich, built with tri-tip that carried a light-and-chewy resistance, but the sandwich tasted bland. Pass.
Bonus: Free sauces. Lettuce wrap available for carb/gluten avoiders.
The Habit Burger Grill
Info: 2601 N. Pearl St., Tacoma; habitburger.com