- Alex Springer
As important as hamburgers are to our dining ecosystem, they don't always lend themselves to innovation. Part of this limitation is due to the fact that everything that can possibly be done to a hamburger has, in fact, been done to a hamburger. High-end chefs include high-end burgers on their high-end menus just like the neighborhood gastropub will put crab salad on a patty in a (probably) drunken fever of inspiration.
In light of this universal truth, we need to talk about Loco Burger (1702 S. Main Street, 801-505-8187, locoburgerut.com). This food truck turned brick-and-mortar has boldly merged the titans of Mexican sandwich-craft known as tortas with the cheeseburgers that we all know and love—and it's magical.
Like many of our local dining luminaries, Loco Burger started off as a food truck and gained enough popularity to open a storefront. Its chosen digs are a good fit for its casual-yet-craveable vibe; it's right at home on that excellent intersection between 1700 South and Main Street, where local foodie options are plentiful. The space has been open for just over a month, but they've seen no shortage of customers. Its cozy diner vibe coupled with some of the biggest, tastiest burgers in town has attracted its fair share of business.
I visited Loco Burger during the busy lunch rush—you may need to get cozy with your fellow man if you stop by during peak hours. Their menu begins with the Simply Loco ($6.95), a traditional cheeseburger that has sliced avocado and grilled mozzarella in addition to the familiar slice of American cheese. Scaling up a bit, you've got the signature Loco Burger ($8.95), which adds slices of turkey ham to the mix.
It doesn't stop there, of course, but I did want to pause and reflect on the addition of avocado and gooey mozzarella. Back when I fell in love with tortas, I realized my affection was based on the balance of flavors and textures. The avocado and stretchy Oaxaca cheese that come standard on each torta play a big part in that balance. They rein in the intense flavors and add moisture to a monstrous sandwich that could dry itself out in no time. So, adding these two lynchpin ingredients to a burger is a great way to bring balance to their more intense burgers, while giving their standbys something special to bring to the menu.
Now, about those more intense burgers... Outside of the Loco Burger, you can check out burgers that have one additional torta-esque meat on top, such as the Salchi Burger ($8.95) that comes with sliced turkey salchichas. This one is perfect for those who could never decide on whether they wanted hamburgers or hot dogs at the family barbecue. Then you've got the Porky Burger ($8.95), which has all the bacon, or the Chapo Burger ($9.95) which gets a slice of smoked pork loin. I'd say the Porky Burger slightly edges out the Chapo, because it's easy to lose the pork loin in the savory mélange of flavors stacked between its buns.
If you cannot decide which of these upper-tier burgers to get, you can always get the Super Loco ($14.95), which has all of them. Yep, that's bacon, pork loin, salchichas and ham piled high with their other signature trimmings. If you're famished and you've had past experience with shotgunning tortas, you could probably handle this one by yourself. Otherwise, it's one to share with your favorite burger-devouring compatriot.
As far as sides go, each burger can be ordered in a combo meal that includes a generous serving of fries and some mild or spicy Loco Sauce—fry sauce with a nice peppery kick to it. There's nothing inherently wrong or bad about these fries, but they are definitely footnotes to the signature burgers within. It's not a huge gripe, but I'd love some crinkle-cut or steak fries to go with these monstrous hamburgers just to complement the melty, drippy excess that will inevitably make Loco Burger a star.
If you're after a side dish that is more-than-worthy to stand next to a Loco Burger, then you'll want to get the Chiles Locos ($4.95). These are whole jalapeño peppers wrapped in bacon and grilled to crispy perfection. Anyone who is a sucker for the way peppers get all blackened and blistered on the grill will fall for these bad boys.
Loco Burger even has folks who prefer sweet to spicy covered with some gem-toned cheesecakes ($6.95) and cake rolls ($6.95) courtesy of Fillings and Emulsions. It's always good to see the work of Chef Adalberto Diaz around town, and it's proof that the Loco Burger team has good taste. You may not be hungry enough to snag dessert during your visit, but these desserts will travel well for a snack later.
As of now, Loco Burger is on the precipice of greatness—and exponential growth. This is the kind of food truck Cinderella story that will expand across the Wasatch Front, so if you're the kind of person who likes to check out a place before it blows up, now's the time to pop in and get loco.