We're eating Bad Daddy's Bad Ass Burger, a $13.25, barely pickupable monstrosity composed of a 10-ounce patty on thin brioche, buttermilk-fried bacon, American cheese, horseradish mayo and the regular fixings. We aren't unhappy. My colleague describes the hot mess as "obscene, vulgar and unholy ... made of, for and by fat America."
We like the heavy battering around the bacon, which tastes like a biscuit from brunch. The meat bears a perfect pink medium rare and clean flavor. (It's purported to be all-bad-things-free via Longmont's Meyer Natural Angus, which is processed by meat giant Cargill according to articles circa 2010, though a Meyer PR rep refused to confirm that for us by press time.) Bad Daddy's even makes that cheese, as part of its "chef-driven" goal, which also sees homemade dressings and sauces.
Sure, craft beer-pairing advice on the menu reads tone deaf to a city of smart beer drinkers, and I already poked the 18-restaurant chain (owned by the folks behind Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard) in my Side Dish column for empty, corporate-feeling franchisee fodder such as "with housemade ingredients you get fresh unique flavor that can not be found in other burger restaurants."
In many ways, Bad Daddy's is just like many other hamburger havens, or chains, its walls jammed with sports memorabilia and pointless kitsch like license plates, with an otherwise sleek, industrial, quasi-rock 'n' roll vibe. You've been here before, just somewhere else. But to be fair, it's not a bad place to be.
Bad Daddy's Amber ale, made for them by Oregon's very capable Full Sail Brewing Company, costs only $3 a pint. Cocktails, $6 to $7, drink beach-y and non-boozy, if a bit sweet: the moonshine blackberry limeade highlights along with Daddy's Strawberry Dark n Stormy, made with Margaritaville Rum, Rocky Mountain Soda ginger beer, muddled strawberry and house sweet-and-sour.
A whole portion of the menu devotes itself to notably fresh salads, including an exhaustive build-your-own tear sheet (there's a burger BYO as well) with five options for greens, nearly a dozen dressings, fruits, "crunch" lenders, veggies galore and protein picks. Do you like avocado, jalapeños, red onions and bell peppers, pineapple, tortilla strips and Pepper Jack on mixed greens with tangy avocado ranch? We did, especially the citrus interplay. The house baby kale Caesar could use only anchovies and less dressing.
That heavy hand in the kitchen appeared too with an over-saturated-and-oily vinaigrette arugula tangle on a Wagyu and bacon burger special that failed to highlight the supposedly superior beef. Then came highly over-salted truffle Parmesan fries. (And chug goes the water...) Mishaps on the service side included two occasions of runners trying to drop us drinks we didn't order — one even showed up on the bill, I later realized, but the bar coincidentally gave us an orphaned drink on the next visit for free to unknowingly right the wrong.
No complaints on a beautifully under-seared, sushi-grade tuna burger with piquant Thai chili sauce, which we placed in a lettuce wrap next to punchy, crisp wasabi slaw. We only wanted more of the gourmet fungi quartet on the Magic Mushroom Burger. Vegetarian black bean patties dress up handsomely with good texture. And adding heavy green-chile-cheddar sauce to sweet potato fries also doesn't suck. Oh, and long-cut pickle fries with ranch play nicer than other chains' versions.
Daddy even provides at dessert with a delightfully airy and natural-tasting banana pudding, plus a gooey brownie with an interesting sweet-and-sour cream sauce. He may be another chain battling our indies, but he's not necessarily Bad.