Posted September 16, 2014
By Mark Antonation Sunnyside Burger Bar opens today on the edge of Sunnyside and the Lower Highland neighborhood. We stopped by a day early to see if there's anything new under the sun for residents of the area. Burgers, as the sign says, are the name of the game here, in a relaxed setting with service that falls somewhere between fast-casual and full-on table service. The order line starts at the bar because, according to partner (and Larimer Associates COO) Joe Vostrejs, you'll be able to enjoy a beer while you decide what you want to eat. Once you place your order at the counter, you'll be given a number that coincides with a table. This way, there's no wandering around the dining room looking for a table or hovering over other guests as they finish their meals. Once diners are seated, servers with iPads can take additional requests without having to shuttle between tables and the order station. The whole setup is intended to maximize the best features of fast-casual and full-service dining: quick ordering to get a drink in your hand and your ticket to the kitchen as soon as possible, combined with table service for additional needs. Vostrejs said he's often annoyed at having to get up to order a second round of drinks or dessert at other fast-casual eateries, so he and his partners wanted to eliminate that inconvenience. Chef and partner Troy Guard's menu is predominantly burgers, but with a different twist than at his other neighborhood joint in Congress Park, TAG Burger Bar. Six-ounce patties protrude from white, whole wheat or gluten-free buns made to Guard's specifications at Bluepoint Bakery, while a tumble of unusual burger toppings can be added -- either as a la carte selections or as designed combinations. Along with traditional bacon (from Tender Belly), cheese and onions, the kitchen gets creative: think fried avocado slices on the Gambler, quinoa and kale on the Paleo Caveman, or roasted beets on the Hippy Dippy. Guard conjures childhood memories with housemade pimento cheese spread on the Hipster burger and green goddess dressing as a dip for the crudite plate -- stuff he says he grew up eating in the '70s. Of course there are salads (to which a beef, turkey, salmon or black-bean patty can be added), but there are also house cocktails and boozy shakes for an adult treat (the shakes can be made booze-free for the kids). And of the array of mostly local beers, two come from Diebolt Brewing, just a couple of blocks away. One of those, Sunnyside wheat, was made just for the burger bar. Despite a seeming preponderance of burger bars in town, Vostrejs doesn't see that the market is oversaturated, noting that Sunnyside is a neighborhood restaurant meant to appeal to residents north and south of 38th Avenue. But for those a little too far to walk or bike over, he also points out that Sunnyside has off-street parking for thirty cars. Sunnyside Burger Bar opens today at 11 a.m. and will be open daily until 10 p.m.