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Burger Deck’s dictionary definition smashburgers — and a worthy vegetarian alternative

At a counter above Rubicon Deli, don’t overlook crab cakes or portobello mushrooms

A smashburger, served on a house bun at Burger Deck
A smashburger, served on a house bun at Burger Deck

As of this month, we can find the word smashburger in the dictionary, courtesy of a new edition of Mirriam-Webster that defines it as, “A hamburger patty that is pressed thin onto a heated pan or griddle at the start of cooking.”

Place

Burger Deck

3715 India St Ste B, San Diego

Not that anyone’s had trouble identifying the burger style in the wild. It’s ascendant in San Diego for sure, turning up as an option — if not as a centerpiece — at virtually every new burger spot I visit. Smashburgers certainly build the foundation of Burger Deck, which recently opened on that short strip of India Street best known for institutional dining spots such as El Indio and Shakespeare Pub.


The aptly named Burger Deck comprises a window counter and a small bit of second-story deck immediately beside Shakespeare’s. However, it’s actually an offshoot of its downstairs neighbor, Rubicon Deli, a sandwich shop perhaps best known for baking its own unique assortment of breads led by the ever-alluring Dutch Crunch.


A Burger Deck with views of downtown and the airport

Burger Deck likewise bakes its own buns, and just as with Rubicon’s deli sandwiches downstairs, fresh bread makes the product noticeably better and more distinctive. Smashed black angus beef burgers are served with single ($9) or double patties ($13), prepared either as The Deck, with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and onion; or The Dirty Deck, with American cheese, pickles, and caramelized onions.


I went with the more photogenic Deck, and am pleased to note that smashburgers taste just fine with crisp lettuce and a thick cut of vine-ripened tomato. But deep down we all know “dirty” is the way to go when it comes to smashed patty style, and its thin, charry edges.

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Another concession: I stuck with a single patty. Reason being that I needed to leave room for a couple other burgers yet to try. And that’s where things get really interesting, to the tune of seafood and fungi.


We’ll talk about the $16 Crabby Deck first: atop the same burger bun (and lettuce and tomato), it dresses a crab cake with garlic Tobasco mayonnaise and lemon caper tartar sauce. That combination of flavors sounds easy to overdo, but they and the Old Bay are held in check enough to accentuate rather than overpower these lump crab cakes, which are made no filler-style (i.e., without breadcrumbs).


Alternatives to burger patties: crab cake on the left, portobello mushroom on the right


For the few minutes I was eating it, I’d decided this must be my favorite “burger” on the menu. Then I dug in to a surprise contender. The $12 Mushroom Deck marinades a single portobello mushroom cap then grills it with melted Swiss cheese, finishing it with lettuce tomato, balsamic mayonnaise, and shoestring tempura onions. Here again, any dressing and marinade only brings out the best in the meaty mushroom.


Another term Mirriam-Webster reportedly added to its new dictionary is chef’s kiss, so I’ll offer one of those now for an outstanding mushroom burger. This may mark the first time my favorite item on the burger menu has been the vegetarian option.

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A smashburger, served on a house bun at Burger Deck
A smashburger, served on a house bun at Burger Deck

As of this month, we can find the word smashburger in the dictionary, courtesy of a new edition of Mirriam-Webster that defines it as, “A hamburger patty that is pressed thin onto a heated pan or griddle at the start of cooking.”

Place

Burger Deck

3715 India St Ste B, San Diego

Not that anyone’s had trouble identifying the burger style in the wild. It’s ascendant in San Diego for sure, turning up as an option — if not as a centerpiece — at virtually every new burger spot I visit. Smashburgers certainly build the foundation of Burger Deck, which recently opened on that short strip of India Street best known for institutional dining spots such as El Indio and Shakespeare Pub.


The aptly named Burger Deck comprises a window counter and a small bit of second-story deck immediately beside Shakespeare’s. However, it’s actually an offshoot of its downstairs neighbor, Rubicon Deli, a sandwich shop perhaps best known for baking its own unique assortment of breads led by the ever-alluring Dutch Crunch.


A Burger Deck with views of downtown and the airport

Burger Deck likewise bakes its own buns, and just as with Rubicon’s deli sandwiches downstairs, fresh bread makes the product noticeably better and more distinctive. Smashed black angus beef burgers are served with single ($9) or double patties ($13), prepared either as The Deck, with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and onion; or The Dirty Deck, with American cheese, pickles, and caramelized onions.


I went with the more photogenic Deck, and am pleased to note that smashburgers taste just fine with crisp lettuce and a thick cut of vine-ripened tomato. But deep down we all know “dirty” is the way to go when it comes to smashed patty style, and its thin, charry edges.

Sponsored
Sponsored


Another concession: I stuck with a single patty. Reason being that I needed to leave room for a couple other burgers yet to try. And that’s where things get really interesting, to the tune of seafood and fungi.


We’ll talk about the $16 Crabby Deck first: atop the same burger bun (and lettuce and tomato), it dresses a crab cake with garlic Tobasco mayonnaise and lemon caper tartar sauce. That combination of flavors sounds easy to overdo, but they and the Old Bay are held in check enough to accentuate rather than overpower these lump crab cakes, which are made no filler-style (i.e., without breadcrumbs).


Alternatives to burger patties: crab cake on the left, portobello mushroom on the right


For the few minutes I was eating it, I’d decided this must be my favorite “burger” on the menu. Then I dug in to a surprise contender. The $12 Mushroom Deck marinades a single portobello mushroom cap then grills it with melted Swiss cheese, finishing it with lettuce tomato, balsamic mayonnaise, and shoestring tempura onions. Here again, any dressing and marinade only brings out the best in the meaty mushroom.


Another term Mirriam-Webster reportedly added to its new dictionary is chef’s kiss, so I’ll offer one of those now for an outstanding mushroom burger. This may mark the first time my favorite item on the burger menu has been the vegetarian option.

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