One of the latest additions to the already bustling scene of downtown Palo Alto, Wahlburgers, located on 185 University Ave., is a must-visit if you are craving a delicious, hearty meal with a lively ambiance.
Wahlburgers is a chain restaurant started by actor Mark Wahlberg and his family. The restaurant provides a great location to watch sports, eat with friends and family or even enjoy a meal alone.
With no outdoor seating, the establishment reaches capacity rapidly on busy nights. Seating options include a bar with televisions and various tables for those interested in food and socializing.
Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by welcoming staff. We ordered at the front counter, and received a pager to notify us when the food was ready. Alternatively, you can sit down, be waited on and pay after the meal.
The environment in the restaurant is fantastic due to the contemporary design of the restaurant and the lively coloring. Posters of both Mark and Donnie Wahlberg’s upcoming movies are on the walls, along with other minimalist pictures and decorations.
Out of the 27 food items served, the four we chose to try were the Portobello Sandwich ($9.25), the Double Decker House Burger ($9.95), the Beast ($10.50) and the Melt Burger ($10.50). The food was ready incredibly quickly; only about five minutes after we sat down, the pagers went off and the food was on the counter.
Not only was the service extremely rapid, the food was also very fresh with no signs of underpreparedness. The Portobello Sandwich was exceptional, consisting of a marinated and roasted portobello mushroom cap, white cheddar, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato and the restaurant’s signature “Wahl Sauce.” Cooked to perfection, the Portobello Sandwich was full of vegetarian goodness.
Meat lovers can choose the alternative Double Decker House Burger. This item is bigger than the “Paul’s Choice Our Burger” and smaller than “The Triple Decker,” but all come with lettuce, tomato, onion, American cheese, signature Wahl sauce and pickles. Order this item if you want an overall sufficient burger that covers just about every flavor you could crave.
The Beast was the largest burger available on the menu. With two five-oz. burger patties and a pile of pulled pork to boot, the name of the burger is quite fitting. The miniscule amount of greens on the burger appears to be present for only texture and taste. Order this burger if you are low in cholesterol. If you do so, you will likely be full for the next 12 hours.
The Melt burger had a ⅓ lb. patty (½ if you choose the alternative “Super Melt”) served between thick bread slices, grilled American cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, pickles and mustard sauce. The bread slices, crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside, complimented the rest of the burger perfectly.
Although these meals were great, what truly bolstered the food to practical perfection were the sides. We ordered macaroni and cheese ($5.95), french fries ($4.00), tater tots ($4.00) and onion rings ($4.00) as our sides. The macaroni and cheese was served with sprinkled bread crumbs over the surface, adding a crunchy texture to the creamy inner layer of melted cheese.
The french fries were not quite as spectacular as we had hoped, given they are one of the biggest factors in a burger joint’s quality. They were nowhere near bad, but were not perfect. The fries were nice and crispy, but simply tasted a bit bland and had no “wow” factor. As a result, we recommend a different side if you are looking to complete your meal with a strong counterpart.
The tater tots on the other hand blew us away. Each and everyone of the little potato pieces was fried to perfection. The outer layers of every tater tot was crispy and crunchy, while the soft inside layers added a perfect balance of texture. They were salted to perfection, as well; not a single one was too salty, nor too bland. The tater tots were amazing and we suggest you choose them as the side to any meal.
The onions rings were the lesser of the three. Although I expected large circles of crunchy fried goodness, what we had received instead was oily strands of intangible vegetables covered in breading.
Advertised on their menu as thin and crispy onion rings, the onion rings were definitely thin; there was more breading on the onion rings than at the last supper. This was definitely lacking in the onion department, so we would not recommend this item, unless excess oil is something you seek in meals.
As far as dessert went, we went with Wahlburgers’ milkshakes, known there as “Frappes,” and floats. We tried the black and white frappe (with malt) ($6.50), the chocolate mint frappe ($6.50) and the creamsicle float ($6.50).The black and white frappe was basically a vanilla milkshake with a lot of chocolate sauce to give it a heavy, chocolate taste. It was very sweet, especially with the malt. However, if you have a sweet tooth this is definitely the right order for you.
Next we have the chocolate mint frappe. This was a bit rich and had more of a dark chocolate taste than the more milk chocolate oriented black and white frappe.
We found the mint gave it a refreshing taste that just feels right after a big meal with the foods we ordered. The chocolate mint frappe is certainly a well rounded dessert.
Finally, we have the creamsicle float. Receiving this dessert was very interesting because the workers just hand you a milkshake cup with no top, a straw, a spoon and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream inside of it. Then they hand you a bottle of orange Fanta. We poured the soda into the ice cream and it filled almost perfectly to the top.
After sitting untouched for a few minutes, the ice cream and the soda sort of fuse together to create a foamy, liquid dessert inside of the cup.
From here you can drink the vanilla-spiked orange fanta — which is delicious by the way — or you can use the spoon to eat the vanilla ice cream with some orange Fanta, equally delicious. As a whole, this dessert was extremely sweet, quick and palatable, and we highly recommend everyone to trying it.
Despite some high prices, we found this new establishment to be a huge hit.
The service was incredibly fast, the ambiance was lively and the food was delicious.