Salt City Burger Co. has the atmosphere thing down cold.
Or warm, as in a warm and inviting ambience that reminded me much more of a grand old downtown space adapted for a restaurant than a corner of a brand-new strip mall in Sandy.
There's tall, dark wood wainscoting, rust and warm gold on the walls and hanging glass globe lamps, plus lots of big, open windows to the outside. It's a nice place to have a meal, especially when the meals are as good as Salt City's.
This is a place that serves burgers and nothing but burgers: various permutations of beef, plus turkey, grilled chicken and veggie burgers. Hot dogs creep in on the kids' menu, but this is primarily a place for burger purists, those looking for high quality — premium USDA choice beef, ground fresh daily — done their way.
Surprisingly, you won't pay much more for that quality than you would for a similar fast-food burger. And believe me, you'll enjoy the ambience much, much more.
We brought the family for dinner at Salt City on a recent weekend evening, when the place was full. Despite that, we waited only a short time before being seated in a smallish (for six people) but comfortable booth with an excellent view of the flat-screen TV broadcasting college football to the room.
Our daughters each had a kids' burger, plenty big for them, while my son had a corn dog. Unlike the grown-up burgers, the kids' meals come complete with thin-cut, skin-on fries.
Speaking of the grown-up burgers, the beef selection is brief but enticing: a basic third-pound patty, the same with cheese (five kinds to choose from), a double burger and the Smokehouse Bacon Burger, which features bacon ground into the patty.
You also can get sliced bacon on top of your burger, but bacon ground into the beef is a delectable taste sensation, rich and deeply flavored, with crispy and chewy bits of smoky bacon all over the surface. My husband had his bacon burger straight up, with just a few toppings, while I had the Smokehouse Bacon Blues," a bacon burger topped with bleu cheese.
There are tons of other toppings available: On my Bacon Blues I had caramelized grilled onions, beautifully browned, tender and sweet, and a wonderful foil for the earthy, bitter-salty bleu cheese, which melted and ran creamily into the burger's cracks and furrows and bonded it to the bun.
I intended to visit Salt City's toppings bar, which features just about any sauce you'd want on a burger plus fresh onions, lettuce and tomatoes, but I couldn't stop eating long enough to get there.
We shared a basket of both crisp and salty fries and onion rings, thinly coated with flaky, crisp breading over tender onion.
And for dessert, we shared a basic but tasty root-beer float and a rich, generously portioned chocolate shake.
Burgers $5.29-$7.69; "gourmet" toppings 59 cents-$1.99; sides $1.99-$2.49; salads $2.99-$4.79; shakes, malts and floats $2.99-$3.99.
Where: 9176 S. Village Shop Drive (Quarry Bend Shopping Center), Sandy
Payment: Major credit cards accepted
Wheelchair access: Easy
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org