Independent Burger has been open for several weeks now, and we’d held off going for a while. We’d read prior reviews, which indicated particular confusion about the counter ordering and table assignment systems as well as concerns about the service. Richard and I decided to finally go and try it out for ourselves.
We purposely went at an off-time, and that worked well for us. There were plenty of servers available, and everything with our experience went nice and smoothly. While some of our overall excellent experience at Independent Burger may have been related to going at a non-busy time, it also may be that the management and staff there have read and taken the prior reviews seriously and made attempts to address those concerns.
When we entered the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by a hostess who had menus in hand. She provided us with menus and explained to us that there were now two ordering options available: we could order either at the counter directly in front of us or at our assigned table. She also went ahead and told us which table we’d be assigned (of note, I had actually indicated a seating preference and she was able to honor that request given that it was not yet crowded). I was very happy to be given the option of sitting down and ordering at the table, because there’s really too much on the menu to peruse if standing at the counter. I can see where it would feel all too rushed to try and order at the front counter, especially if there is a line of people. It looks like Independent Burger has now addressed this by offering the option of ordering either at the counter or at the table. During the time that we were there, it appeared that many people chose to first be seated and order later, rather than ordering at the counter. This also allows diners to ask questions about menu items, and we saw many customers doing just that before placing their orders. Since Independent Burger has not yet posted a menu online via Facebook or their website and because it’s fairly new, most diners aren’t yet familiar with their offerings so we and others definitely had questions (and ours were aptly answered by our server).
And first of all, let’s get to those burgers. There were quite a few great-sounding possibilities on the menu; we loved the creativity and variety in the burger options. For those not wanting a traditional beef burger, the menu also includes some salads as well as a turkey, salmon, chicken, and quinoa-black bean burgers. I opted for the Classic Beef Burger (with lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, smoked cheddar, and Indy sauce), which came with a side of crispy onion strings or fries (or one of the other available sides such as baked kale chips or brussels sprouts, for an additional fee). I honestly didn’t really want a side and do wish there were an option of getting the burger without side, at reduced price. But Richard loves onion ring-type things, so I went with the onion strings. Richard got the Bacon to the 3rd burger (with bacon jam, maple glazed slab bacon, crispy Serrano ham, Indy sauce, tomato, and pickled shallots). As for beverages, I just wanted a good ol’ Diet Coke so I went with that. But Richard got the soda bar which he loved. The soda bar is located toward the back of the restaurant, and it includes ice as well as club soda and a variety of soda flavor options. There’s a nifty sign back there offering up suggestions for various soda options, and Richard tried combos that involved orange and pineapple as well as orange and vanilla. He went back several times for refills and absolutely enjoyed the heck out of that soda bar! And while we didn’t get any alcohol, the menu had quite a nice selection of “adult” beverages (including beers, ales, ciders, wines, and mixed drinks as well as “adult” milk shakes).
While we waited for our burgers to cook up, we had time to take in the setting. Independent Burger has a nice, trendy vibe. It’s not a huge restaurant, so we could see where things could get crowded in there at times. But the patio looks great and provides expanded space, and we’ve driven by plenty of times and seen customers enjoying patio dining. We’ll opt for that at some point in the future, for sure (but not on this chilly December day!). The wait time also gave us some more time to look over the menu, which is another reason it’s great to have that order-at-the-table option. There is just too much good information on the menu that could easily be missed if rushed while ordering at the counter. For instance, the menu informs that they have whole wheat as well as gluten-free burger rolls available, and that fries are hand-cut and ice creams are all homemade. In addition, cards on the table provided information about sourcing for the buns, vegetables, and beef. As we waited, a number of other customers arrived and were seated. From what we could tell, Independent Burger attracts an eclectic mix ranging from what appeared to be students to couples of all ages as well as families.
Our food took a little while to arrive, but I had ordered my burger well done so that was to be expected (the menu states that burgers are typically cooked to medium). The food was worth the wait! Richard and I both commented on the quality of the buns used. We later learned that the buns are made for them by Belle Sucre Bakery here in El Paso – we love Belle Sucre and all we can say is.way to go! Truly it was a great burger bun. And as for the burgers.. wow! They were so good! The moment I bit into mine, I tasted the smokiness from the cheddar cheese and man was it good! It was cooked just right, and the combination of flavors in my burger was just perfect. Richard said that his burger was great as well, and it sure looked fantastic with all those bacon accompaniments! It was a bacon lover’s burger feast! While we’ve read in prior reviews that some people complained that the burgers here were too small, we found them to be just right in size. I personally don’t like all the humongous burgers served at some restaurants these days and would much prefer a smaller, high-quality burger any day over a monster-burger (plus, that means more room for dessert!). I let Richard have my onion strings and while he enjoyed him, he went crazy over his fries. He said that the fries were truly the best fries that he has had so far in El Paso (and he’s scarfed down quite a few fries so far during our time in EP). Our server (who was very good, though we failed to get her name) told us that the fries are among her very favorite items at Independent Burger.
Once dessert time came around, it was hard to decide. There were some fantastic-sounding ice cream sandwiches as well as shakes and floats. This time around, Richard went with the Orange Soda Float and I ordered up the “Not Mama’s PB&J” ice cream sandwich. Richard was impressed with the number of different float options available, and he’ll be going through the entire list over time I’m sure (next up for him: the “adult” Youngs chocolate stout float and the framboise float). I’m planning on doing the same with the ice cream sandwiches – so many good possibilities to try out another time (including the chocolate on chocolate ice cream sandwich and the cub scout ice cream sandwich, though the Monkey Business Shake and the Sweet + Salty Shake also sounded great). Before we knew it, desserts had arrived and oh my! These were sure tasty! Richard said that he loved the orange soda float even more than his beloved and typically ordered root beer float. And my ice cream sandwich was yummy! The peanut butter ice cream certainly tasted rich and creamy and homemade and I loved the chopped peanuts that added great crunch. The strawberry jelly layer was generous, and the outside cake layer was good as well. This was a quite delicious ice cream sandwich!
While we weren’t quite sure what to expect given some past concerns reported about Independent Burger, we had a fantastic experience there. Granted we went at an off-time, but it seemed to us that Independent Burger had been made aware of concerns voiced by others and has made efforts to address those concerns. We were greeted right away by a hostess who provided menus and explained the ordering options, and we watched as other entering customers were greeted in the same way. We were seated right away, our server was attentive and helpful about menu items, and we were able to pay at our table. We also appreciated being able to order at the table rather than the counter (something that apparently has been added as an option since the opening), since it takes a while to take in all that offered on the menu and it gives the option of obtaining information and recommendations from the server). We saw many other customers taking their time with the menu and asking questions of their server, so being able to by-pass the counter ordering (and instead ordering at the table) is a great option. In addition to our server asking us several times how we were enjoying things, a management staff person also stopped by our table to find out how things were. We were happy to inform him that it was all great, and that we’d definitively be back!
Independent Burger is located on the Westside at 5001 North Mesa Street El Paso, TX 79912