THE PLACE: As I've said before, I'll never understand the hype over hamburger chains arriving in Reno, the hoopla surrounding burgers designed by corporate committee, the heed paid to mediocre fries (especially when Reno offers so many fine homegrown burgers and fries).
OK, I'll dismount my soapbox now — and admit that a May 2017 item on the opening of the Habit Burger chain in downtown Reno ranks among the most popular posts ever on the @RGJTaste Facebook page.
STEAK 'N SHAKE SOUTH RENO
Address: 470 S. Meadows Parkway
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
On the web:www.steakandshake.com
This performance convinces me that whatever my feelings, I need to visit one of the city's newer burger chains because so many people are interested in them. And that brings me the other day to the new Steak 'n Shake in South Reno for an early lunch.
THE LOOK: I like Steak 'n Shake's bold graphic feel (though some might feel like they're dining in a cartoon), its silver and tomato red color scheme, the counter that stretches the length of an open kitchen. Steak 'n Shake's motto runs overhead: In Sight It Must Be Right.
Outside, there's a drive-through and a dining terrace fronting South Meadows Parkway.
THE MEAL: Because there's table service, Steak 'n Shake feels like a cross between a diner and a fast-casual spot.
It's just gone 11 in the morning, but the place already is filling with customers, so I quickly decide on a cup of chili and on the Original Double 'n Cheese Steakburger, the restaurant's flagship dish.
The chili lands just before the burger. It's looser in style, with beans, and too salty. I add a packet of oyster crackers for some textural interest.
The burger and fries touch down on a real plate. The burger isn't huge (in the ostentatious manner of, say, Fuddruckers); it's just enough for lunch. The pickles, tomatoes and lettuce are decently fresh and crisp.
Despite these admirable qualities, the Double 'n Cheese ultimately comes a cropper: The burger is too salty and served piping lukewarm. And a heap of thin fries, starting to go limp, also needs to meet some heat.
Some local Reno burgers:
May is National Hamburger Month. We're celebrating with a look at the best Reno-Sparks burgers through the years. Johnathan L. Wright/RGJ
KUDOS: Really friendly services distinguishes Steak 'n Shake. Prices are reasonable (nearly every item is less than $8). Calorie counts help diners make informed choices.
QUIBBLES: Oversalted food and fries sliding toward soggy aren't going to cut it, especially with so much competition (chain and independent) in Reno.
ALTERNATIVES: Pancakes and breakfast sandwiches, grilled chicken taco salad, Triple Steakburger 'n Fries, Cajun Double Steakburger 'n Fries, a Steak 'n Shake Meal with two sides and a shake.
RETURN TRIP?: I doubt it.