Grind Burger Bar and Lounge opened in late 2009, I heard more about the controversy over their mascot, Juicy Lucy, than the food and I chalked the place up as just another gourmet burger joint. After sharing my love for Fuddruckers a number of readers tossed out their favorite off-strip burger joints, Grind, Smashburger and Create were all praised. I intend to try each one, but I gave priority to Grind since I’ve heard its nays, yays and controversy. I knew I had to experience it for myself.
For those of you unfamiliar with Grind, it can be found at one of the latest timeshare complexes, Bluegreen, on Tropicana Avenue across from the airport. The restaurant was launched by long-time restaurateur, Mark DiMartino, and business partner Barry Fieldman. DiMartino has had success locally with the Titled Kilt and Tillerman; the pair decided to bring the build-your-own gourmet burger concept off-strip. Shortly after opening its doors it advertised in the UNLV campus newspaper. The ad featured Juicy Lucy; it created quite the stir.
Many found the cartoon of the naked woman segmented into cuts of meat offensive. They were outraged at the notion that women are no more than “a piece of meat”. A group demanded Grind remove Juicy Lucy from its ads, website and merchandise. Their demands fell on deaf ears. Rather than remove Juicy Lucy a giant blow up version was placed outside the restaurant to generate more attention. Those outraged created a page on Facebook to promote a boycott of Grind Burger Bar and Lounge. Juicy Lucy remains and Grind is still open for business so it’s obvious to see who won this battle.
Last week, my in-laws were staying at Bluegreen; it gave us the nudge we needed to finally try Grind to see what the hype is all about. The whole Juicy Lucy ordeal was intriguing so I had to ask about it. Our server filled me in on the details and said that the controversy fueled business. Just goes to show you there is no such thing as bad press.
At Grind they take their made-to-order burgers seriously. Once seated, you are given a clipboard and pencil and you are instructed to create your burger by checking the appropriate boxes, you are also encouraged to note any special requests, such as a toasted bun. You begin by selecting your protein: ground chuck (its temperature), turkey, chicken breast or veggie ($9) and then you choose your bun: regular, wheat, ciabatta or none (served on a bed of greens). Next you pick from a variety of cheeses (.75¢). and then you move on to wide selection of toppings – the first two are complimentary – everything from the most basic lettuce and tomatoes to premium ingredients like fried egg or Sicilian olive salad are available (.75¢-$1.50). Then, to finish it off you are able to choose two sauces from a selection of twenty. Appetizers and fries come separately; you can have a large portion of fries one of three ways: skinny, fat or sweet potato ($4-$5).
We ordered four burgers made to our specifications, a tower of onion strings and an order of sweet potato fries. Everyone was satisfied with their selections. I particularly enjoyed the sweet potato fries, non-greasy yet fried crisp. They were tasty dipped in chipotle ketchup. I kept my burger fairly simple opting for ground chuck on a regular bun with Swiss, and marinated mushrooms and onions. It had great flavor. My only complaint was the dense dry bun. I’m doubtful the ciabatta would be any better, so next time I’ll likely choose the wheat or possibly skip the bun altogether.
Prices are on par with others specializing in gourmet burgers. However, the off-strip location, service and coupons set Grind apart. Simply join Grind’s email club and you’ll immediately be sent a $10 off coupon on a purchase of $20 or more. Also check the website for additional free stuff. Currently, there is a coupon for a free order of crispy fries.
I can’t say the Grind measures up to my favorite Fuddruckers burger, but the ingredients are fresh and they turn out a nice product. Plus, service exceeded my expectations. Our server even sent us off with a parting gift of Juicy Lucy postcards. It was fun to go home with a souvenir that I know raised a ruckus.
Grind Burger Bar and Lounge is located at 360 E. Tropicana Las Vegas, NV, 89169. Open daily for lunch and dinner 11:30am – 10:00pm.