PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The newest entry in the better burger battle in the area opened Wednesday in Monroeville.

Smashburger is the latest in a growing number of places aimed at giving you something more than the old fast food fare.

With the expansion of locally owned BRGR, as well as Burgatory, and additional locations of the national Red Robin chain, it’s clear Pittsburghers have developed a taste for gourmet burgers (along with milkshakes that sometimes have a little alcohol mixed in.)

Now Smashburger, based in Denver, has opened its first location in our area.

Franchise owner Lee Williams explained where the “smash” comes from: “We prep it as a meatball and then we smash it on the grill.”

They don’t serve any alcohol in their shakes, and the burgers cost a few dollars less than some of the gourmet competitors.

“We’re actually in the fast-casual segment. That’s where we’re at, and our price point is lower. It’s fresh, never frozen. You order it, we smash it!” said Williams.

They also offer one item you’ll only find on the menu at the Monroeville location (and possible future Pittsburgh ones): A Steel City burger made with barbecue sauce from McKeesport.

Gretchen McKay, food writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, says Pittsburgher’s burger tastes appear to be trending upward.

“High-quality burgers have always been on the menu at better restaurants in Pittsburgh, but ever since BRGR opened in East Liberty in 2010, it seems like it’s just taken off,” said McKay.

Philip Crow of Regent Square and his wife Sally were enjoying burgers at BRGR Wednesday night and believe well-known fast food burgers just don’t measure up. “It doesn’t meet the meats that were getting here – the farm-raised meats or the bison,” said Crow.

“It’s been a big movement especially in Pittsburgh,”said Matt Petruna, BRGR manager in East Liberty. “There have been a lot of local chains that have arisen because of this trend. I think it speaks to everyone’s desire for Americana, but they want it done in a very artistic way.”

As for Smashburger, it hopes to open at least three more locations in our area. But BRGR and Burgatory are expanding, too.

BRGR just opened at a location at The Galleria in Mt. Lebanon, and Burgatory plans to open locations in McCandless and the North Shore this spring.

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David Highfield