50 Burgers, 50 Days: Elevation Burger

 
A burger a day all around Austin, plus an answer to the pressing question: Fries or rings?
 
Day 34: Elevation Burger
2525 W. Anderson Lane. 419-7444, www.elevationburger.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 09.13.11
 
The burger: Life is trying to rekindle over by Northcross Mall, and whether you love it or hate it, a new Walmart can light retail fires nearby. Noodles & Co. is moving in across the parking lot, joining PhoNatic, Which Wich, Yogurtland, Dos Batos and this, the second Austin location of the national Elevation Burger chain.
 
The ordering process at Elevation might  throw you off at first. First, know that the Elevation Burger itself is a double meat, double cheese construction for $5.99 ($9.49 as a combo with fries and a fountain drink). You can get singles, of course, or add as many patties as you want for the Vertigo. Then it’s your job to tell them everything you want, something the people behind me in line had a very loud time with. I’ll recommend lettuce, tomato, crisp long-cut pickles and chopped caramelized onions for the veggie pile. I say “pile” because the burger is about the diameter of a basic fast-food cheeseburger, but it’s about three times as tall, especially with two thick patties of beef welded together by real cheddar cheese. Elevation makes a big deal about using organic beef, and it makes difference in texture and taste, probably as much because it’s fresh rather than frozen.
 
The result is a burger about as shapely as a fast-pitch softball, stuffed into a marshmallow of a potato bun. Ask for your sauce  on the side, and ask for Elevation Sauce, a creamy, tomato-heavy Thousand Island style dressing. I probably should have done the same with hot pepper relish — like chow-chow on a po’ boy — to cut down on the untidiness of this tumbling cascade of a burger, but you’ll want a little taste in every bite. Chain or not, this is one of the best burgers I’ve had during this 50-day project.
 
Fries or rings? Elevation cuts potatoes in the kitchen every day to make its long, thin fries ($2.59). Then they get a two-stage dunk in olive oil. I’ve had good and mediocre results at Elevation, but this time they were cooked with such character and color and crispness you’d think they were shooting a commercial in the back. The only alternatives are an ordinary side salad ($2.49) of torn lettuce and window dressing or Mandarin oranges. This isn’t a Happy Meal, and you aren’t in here to eat salad. Olive-oil fries? Take the leap.
 
Also: A coffee ice cream malt with real bananas and chocolate syrup ($3.89) is a good finish. And I was struck by something you rarely see in fast food. The young manager on duty made a point of remembering names, and she called to each of us in the dining room as she left at the end of her shift.
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)