Elevation Burger was founded in 2005 in Virginia by Hans Hess, a former Californian. Looking for an alternative experience to the grease bomb many of us have scarfed down and then regretted, he came up with a fast-food concept that uses organic, grass-fed, free-range beef burgers with the meat freshly ground on the premises. There are also two types of veggie burgers, fresh-cut fries fried in Bertolli olive oil, salad, and hand-scooped milkshakes. Plus, a cookie or mandarin oranges for dessert.
It's not just the ingredients that are elevated. Carlsbad franchise owner Ron Weinberg explained that staff is paid above minimum wage and get health care benefits. The franchises all use renewable, non-polluting materials such as bamboo flooring, compressed sorghum tabletops, and low- or no-VOC paints and sealants. And they recycle.
All that's well and good but how's the food? I enjoyed it a lot. I ordered the Elevation Burger (two 1/5-pound patties, two slices of aged cheddar cheese, and a boatload of toppings--ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, raw onions, elevation sauce and a fabulous hot pepper relish on the side to taste). I got the fries, which were crispy and fresh tasting. And I ordered a thick coffee ice cream shake with chocolate syrup. I also got the fat cookie, made with chocolate chips, oatmeal, and pecans, which I saved for later.
I loved their idea of using metal baking pans as trays for shuttling the food and drinks. I appreciated that these weren't mammoth burgers. Patties are a fifth of a pound and the buns fit snugly around them, not overpowering the meat. And, I loved the prices, which are very reasonable, especially given the quality of the products. The Elevation Burger is $5.99. The fries are $2.89. The shakes are $3.89. The cookie is $1.79.
The friend I was with ordered the Veggie Burger #1, and it truly tasted like vegetables blended with cheese--as opposed to a substance that just wasn't meat. The other Veggie Burger (#2) is a vegan burger. There's also the Half the Guilt Burger, made with one meat patty and one veggie patty. And, you can order your burger carb-free, wrapped in lettuce. Don't like burgers? They have a grilled cheese sandwich. Love burgers with an insane passion? Fill 'er up with the Vertigo Burger; you could order up to 10 patties.
Elevation Burger has storefronts across the country. In San Diego County, it's located in Bressi Ranch Village Center at 2641 Gatway Road. According to Weinberg, who is Elevation Burger's area director for San Diego, they are scouting new locations--looking at UTC and Mission Valley as their next destinations.