Editor's Note: A visit to this joint, opening day 07/27, and getting some reader feedback motivated me to embark on the latest Bachelor on the Cheap Challenge for 2022: Who makes the best burger in Wichita?
By Mike Thayer
Starting out as a three stool hamburger stand in Los Angeles, California back in 1947, Wichita can now enjoy the iconic burgers, fries and shakes made by this now national chain. With locations sprinkled all over the United States, Fatburger has also gone global, with restaurants in 19 other countries.
I've never eaten at a Fatburger before, but I've got a few military buddies from back in the day who grew up in California claiming Fatburger was awesome, so I was super excited to try this place, today was opening day in Wichita.
Here's the description of the joint from the company website:
Fatburger & Buffalo's Express located at 2556 N.Greenwich Rd., Wichita, KS is a casual eatery offering fresh, authentic, tasty hamburgers, fries, and shakes. Every meal is cooked-to-order, using the freshest ingredients and traditional cooking methods. We’re best known for our fresh-never-frozen, lean-beef, chicken, turkey and veggie burgers & sandwiches, our hand-scooped, real ice cream milkshakes, homemade-from-scratch onion rings and build-your-own-burger experience.
Arriving a bit after 11am, the door was opened for me by a member of the staff, who greeted me with excitement and a big, enthusiastic smile, "Welcome to Fatburger!" As I entered, there were already about a dozen folks seated, happily chowing down on burgers and another dozen or so in a line waiting to order.
"This place is slamming busy!" I said to myself.
They had two registers working the line and it moved along quickly. When my turn came I went with the classic Fatburger for the purpose of this burger joint review, ordering a large, what they call the Kingburger which is a 1/2 pound of burger goodness. Built to order the 100% pure beef is fresh, grilled to perfection and served on a toasted sponge-dough bun. For toppings I went with "The Works," the classic toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mustard, pickles and relish. I also added cheese, some Fat fries and a medium drink.
I paid for my order, was given a drink cup and issued placard #36. I filled my cup and found a seat in view of the growing line of hungry customers waiting to order their first Wichita Fatburger. At this point the line of folks had grown to more than a dozen, with a few folks waiting outside. The kitchen was hopping! With the two attendants taking customer orders at the front and calling out lines like, "One Fatburger, one Fat Fry," this crew was working hard and in concert, even though this was day one. The chemistry was fun to witness.
It didn't take long to receive my order tableside. I received it in a carryout brown bag rather than the cookie sheet like tray for dining in, but to be honest, in all the opening day excitement, I couldn't remember having the question/answer dine-in or to-go conversation with the attendant. No matter, my meal was on my table, ready to be sampled! A HUGE burger, it lives up to the Kingburger visual hype. And although I didn't get the cheese I ordered (but I didn't pay for the add on either), it was still menu board picture worthy.
I took the first bite. My mouth did a Happy Dance. This is fresh ground beef that's pressed on the flat top, giving you that nice bit of crust on the outside, creating a caramelized depth of flavor. Seasoned well and juicy, this burger is one of the best I've had in town, better than Fizz, superior to Five Guys, tastier than Walt's, Bubba's 33 and others. The 1/2 pound of seasoned beef deliciousness was complimented by crisp lettuce, juicy tomato, umami onion, creamy mayo and the tartness and tang of the mustard, pickle and relish. The burger is put together well and served on that flat top toasted bun that sings with notes of the seasoned burger juices, it was warm and 'pillowy' soft, yet held together from first to last bite. This burger was so good, I didn't miss the cheese.
The Fat fries however didn't measure up to the goodness of the burger. The Fat fries, a.k.a., steak fries, had a bit of a crisp exterior (could have been a tad crispier) and I got the light fluffy potato on the inside, but they were under seasoned, making for a bland fry. Ketchup was a must. The next time I may try the Skinny fries in hopes of getting that crispier exterior I'm looking for, or perhaps I'll try the sweet potato fries.
Costing me $16.07 for the half pound burger, fries and a drink, overall this was a great burger experience and I'm giving Fatburger & Buffalo's Express 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. The burger alone makes Fatburger a habitual repeat buy. The price isn't exactly Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly, but we are talking a half pound of beef and this is no ordinary run-of-the-mill burger! It's loaded with flavor!
Located at 2556 N Greenwich Rd Suite 107, Wichita, KS 67226 on the north end of the Academy Sports building, Fatburger is definitely worthy of a visit. The staff is friendly, the service is fast and the burger is SO worth it!