In 2012 GQ announced that Umami Burger made the burger of the year. Unfortunately for us the closest location was in L.A. All of that change when the SLS arrived on the north end of the strip, bringing with it the much heralded Umami Burger. What is all the buzz about? Here is what I found.
I chose to try Umami Burger at 6:15. On a Saturday night. On the strip. And the nice thing about the location of the SLS is that I did not hate my choice. Parking was straightforward and so was finding Umami Burger. (Follow the signs to the casino. Once in the casino Umami Burger is straight ahead.) I will tell you I had a moment of hesitation when, at that time, there was no line and worse the place was 2/3 empty. Had people had already given up on Umami Burger or it was still a great secret?
Despite how slow it was there was still a couple minute wait for a booth to be ready for us. It is not until you sit down that you really see how much they are supporting their sports book. There is literally a TV at every booth and lots of other screens besides that. It is not a place I would call cozy; in fact, it seemed kind of sterile and cold.
The waitress was efficient and we soon had drink and appetizer orders in and as the drinks arrived she took our burger orders. Here is a tip if you end up going… Ask about what is not on the menu. Umami Burger is famous for having burgers that only those who ask find out about.
I selected the “Manly” burger (house beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami ketchup, mustard spread). Umami cooks burgers to order so we were off to a great start.
While we waited for appetizers and burgers I drank my lemonade. This lemonade restored my hope. It was some of the best I have ever had. Homemade, not too sweet, not too tart and full of flavor! This coupled with Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Buffalo Chicken Loaded “Potato Nachos” and I was fully confident in Umami Burger again. These appetizers are not part of the rating at the end of the article, but really if you go I highly recommend the lemonade and potato nachos.
We had enough people with us that we ordered 4 sides, the simple fries, the sweet potato fries, the onion rings and the homemade tater tots. What a mistake. Every one of them was a disaster. The onion rings and simple fries were under done and greasy. That usually means oil that is too cold, but the sweet potato fries were overdone and had a hint of burnt oil taste. The tater tots were the worst and happily they seem to have been recently removed from the menu. Why anyone would think serving uncooked balls of chipped potatoes would appeal is beyond me.
When the burger arrived it was lukewarm. It was also cooked medium well instead of medium rare as ordered and the meat was nearly flavorless. It was completely over-powered by the other toppings. The toppings were okay I guess but none was outstanding, and certainly none was so amazing it should have stolen the show from the beef. I even took a piece of the beef out to taste on its own and it was pretty plain. For the hype about this place, I am not sure I could have been more disappointed.
One of the strangest parts about the evening is that despite the waitress being fairly attentive early in our meal, once she served the burgers she disappeared. We had to go the hostess to ask for our check. Even if this was just a bad night, it was so bad I cannot imagine giving them another try. Seriously, it was that bad. There are lots of great burgers on the strip and at this price point Umami Burger is not worth your time.
Overall Score: 68
Burger Cost: $11.95
Meal Cost: $19.90
Burger Adjusted Score: 5.5
Meal Adjusted Score: 3.3
Additional Notes (the following notes were not considered in my review but might be useful for someone planning a trip here):
The Umami Burger serves beer, wine and some mixed drinks.
Umami Burger offers a discount if you have the SLS players club card.