Burger Dive – Somerville, Massachusetts

First Taste: Hot Buns

The Legendary Restaurant Group is reinventing the cattle brand—instead of scorching a logo onto a cow, they’ve switched the focus to bread. Just opened in Somerville, Burger Dive serves every bun only after it’s been passed under a hot metal iron, imparting both the restaurant’s monicker and a lightly seared flavor. As the company’s 10th venture, Burger Dive is its first foray into fast dining. It’s also the first time they’re carrying the brand all the way to the plate.

Don’t let the name fool you—this is no seedy joint. The project has been a long time coming, says co-owner Chris Damian. “The burger concept was supposed to happen before Max and Dylans,” he explains, which makes the idea at least five years old. The delay was on account of lacking the right space. With the new development in Somerville’s Assembly Row, where the city broke ground for a new Orange Line T stop earlier this year, Damian and his business partner, Brad Dalbeck, found the solution. “Everybody likes a burger,” says Damian. “Well, vegetarians don’t. But the idea of fast-casual, good-quality food was always something that we wanted to do.”

Though it’s no drive-through, Damian jokes that the 40-plus seater resembles an oil-change shop, with large glass and steel garage doors that roll up in nicer months to open up a 120-seat patio. “We looked at this place as a distressed industrial build-out,” says Damian. He and Dalbeck went as far as to purchase an old Pennsylvania farmhouse specifically to break down and upcycle for the restaurant’s wood paneling.

At the counter, patrons choose from hot dogs or patties, including ground turkey or beef (a custom blend of chuck, short rib and skirt), chicken breast and vegetarian. And then there are the specialty burgers, like the Baconator, in which the patty is spliced with rendered, minced bacon. Accompaniments include sweet potato, thin- or thick-cut fries and onion “petals,” and eight custom dipping sauces, ranging from Sriracha aioli to a vanilla-scented blend. If that isn’t filling enough, milkshakes are thickened with desserts—key lime pie, red velvet cupcakes and the like—taken directly from a display case on the counter. Customer satisfaction might literally be a piece of cake.

Burger Dive 702 Assembly Square Dr., Somerville (617-628-3300) burgerdive.com

This article originally appeared in the November 28, 2012, issue of The Improper Bostonian.