Habit Burger is a newish chain of “upscale” fast food burger joints that is trying to spread throughout the Bay Area. One may be opening in San Leandro in a year or two, a fact that Mayor Stephen Cassidy considers a major accomplishment of his administration (I kid you not!). We were driving by Walnut Creek, and my husband decided we should stop by one of its restaurant and find out whether Cassidy’s characterization of the restaurant as “a hip, healthy and delicious” was accurate. It wasn’t, but then again, I can’t say I am surprised.
As far as fast-food chains go, Habit Burger is definitely a step up from McDonalds and their ilk. Its flavor profiles are closest to In-N-Out, but the restaurant is classier and it offers greater choices. The burgers ($3.50) were tasty, though the patties were small, thin and dry. They are charbroiled, which gives them a flavor similar to Burger King’s whoppers. My youngest daughter, who had hers with cheese & ketchup but nothing else, found it too small and too dry. This is a child that’s eaten her fair share of school cafeteria burgers, so criticism from her says somethings. I ordered my burger with guacamole and bacon ($1 extra each) and that made all the difference. The guacamole tasted fresh and vibrant and the bacon was crispy; the two combined completely redeemed the burger – but the patty was pathetic. My husband had the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger ($4.60) and he also thought the burger was just OK.
My 11-yo had the chicken sandwich ($5.75) . She found it “OK”. The chicken itself was dry and the sandwich was a bit too peppery. She wouldn’t return, even if we had one here.
Neither my husband nor kids liked the fries ($1.85). They had a hard/chewy outer part and had a strange flavor. To me, they tasted as if they’d been cooked with their peels, but that wasn’t actually the case. Still, they did remind me (flavor wise, not texture wise) of In-N-Out fries. The portion was generous, but we didn’t finish them between the four of us.
We had different opinions with respect to the shakes ($3), however. Hubby ordered the vanilla and he found it too thin and tasteless. I shared the mocha with my oldest, and we both enjoyed it. It had a nice flavor, and while it was thin, I guess you don’t expect mochas to be thicker.
The food was ready fast and, as I mentioned, the restaurant was quite nice and clean. It did smell horrible, though, like old, stale oil. Maybe that’s why their fries were so unappetizing.
In all, I’d say this place is marginally better than In-N-Out, but nowhere as good as Nation’s. It’s probably a good fit for those who like Burger King but want nicer surroundings. But if you want a burger that looks like it’s made of beef, then Habit Burger is not for you.
The Habit Burger Grill
1255 S California Blvd
Walnut Creek, CA