Opening a restaurant (or a second location of your restaurant) can bring logistical challenges, like not knowing exactly when you should turn off the grill and close your doors on a quiet night.
Grinderz, which expanded from its Huntington Beach location to a new spot in Costa Mesa, is going through those challenges at their new spot (they close "around 9:00-ish"), but they're still putting out enjoyable burgers and fries while they're at it.
The burgers from the skateboard-themed fast-casual restaurant provide every bit of greasy goodness you could ask for in a steamed ham. You can get a burger with or without cheese, with two patties, or made of turkey, veggies, or chicken. Your side options are beer-battered fries, sweet potato fries, or onion rings. That's it–no Counter madness here.
Of course, getting anything other than beef at a place with a skateboarding burger for a logo seemed like a mistake, so don't ask us how the chicken, turkey, or veggie burger is.
For the burger itself, it's hard to say that it's truly outstanding, but there's certainly nothing wrong with it. The bun isn't particularly noteworthy, but it maintains the structural integrity of the burger, not falling apart when the grease and sauces seep through.
The patty itself is a solid mix of the greasy mess from your favorite diner and a well-seasoned version of a classic fast-food burger. It's reminiscent of a burger from a summer cookout on the Penninsula, except the staff is way nicer than the people you're forced to live next to.
The cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion (and optional bacon and avocado, for a little more) mixes with the Thousand Island dressing and/or Chipotle Mayo to lay extra layers of flavor on to the burgers. Thankfully, the toppings aren't too overwhelming, so it's complementary instead of a salad on top of a patty. Sure, pickles on a burger can be controversial, but they work in this context.
Of course, if burgers aren't your thing, the fries and onion rings at Grinderz are both delightfully crunchy and beer-battered, and they have a relatively small beer list available, if you don't feel like a soda.
Is this In-n-Out or Mick's Karma Bar? No. But the burgers and fries are better than most, and the staff is almost too attentive at times. Plus, I'm certainly not a person who would hate on a place that serves burgers, beers and fries with a signed Tony Hawk skate deck on the wall.
Grinderz, 7561 Center Ave #53, Huntington Beach, (714) 895-2800; also at 488 E. 17th St., Ste. B-102, Costa Mesa. www.grinderzhb.com
Follow Josh Chesler on Twitter @jcchesler for a play-by-play on what he's eating and drinking (and watching on Netflix).