BurgerFi and Wahlburger are two hamburger restaurant chains that both focus on quality, according to each brand’s website.
BurgerFi has 120 locations in 22 states, while Wahlburgers—the Mark Wahlberg-owned facility—has 91 locations in 23 states and four states.
I ordered a burger and fries from BurgerFi while in Florida and the same from Wahlburgers while in Atlanta to compare the food and atmosphere at both chains.
The chain is headquartered in Florida, where I first tried it many years ago. On a recent return trip, I wanted to try it again to see how it stacks up against some of the other fast food restaurants I’ve tried recently.
Brothers Mark, Donnie and Paul Wahlberg opened the first Wahlburgers chain in Hengham, Massachusetts in 2011.
I tried it for the first time on a road trip through Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and Atlanta, Georgia.
The BurgerFi menu was shown on large TV screens above the registration window and the kitchen, and I placed my order with an employee who gave me a table number to take away while I waited for my meal to be ready.
Next to the register was a small batch of beers on tap that reminded me of Shake Shack, a casual burger chain that started in New York City.
However, at Wahlburgers, I received a packed menu when I sat down (they also had QR codes to search for contactless menus) and a member of the team took my order while I was seated and then brought it to me when I was finished.
In the middle of the Atlanta restaurant was a large bar with spirits, wine and beer on tap and bottled.
Inside, I thought the casual chain looked like a cross between a no-frills bar and restaurant.
With a mix of metal and wood tables, forged metal details and ornate lighting, I would describe it as a soft industrial interior style.
This Wahlberg family chain takes a no-nonsense approach to brand promotion. From family photos on the walls to movie posters and testimonials, I couldn’t ignore the fact that this place is owned by celebrities.
The bright green color scheme was consistent throughout, and the Wahlburgers-W logo was intentionally affixed to every napkin, walls, and menus. They also processed “Wahl” into different words, such as “Wahlbrewski” for beer advertising and “Wahlgear” for branded items.
My cheeseburger consisted of lettuce, tomato, pickles, american cheese and burgerfi sauce. The Fay Cheeseburger usually comes with 2 pieces without pickles, so I modified my order a bit.
I also ordered regular size fries, which is the smaller option.
At the South Florida location, the burger alone cost me $6.39 and a side of fries $4.29 – a total of $10.68 I spent on my meal. (Price varies by market, and these items are $7.87 and $4.97-$12.84—at burgervy locations in Atlanta.)
The beef patty was incompletely shaped, which leads me to believe it was house shaped, and the meat itself had plenty of delicious flavors beyond the saltiness.
Along with a slice of delicious gooey cheese came one piece of lettuce that was large and offered more crunch than I expected – it looked very flaky. A single slice of tomato added some much-needed texture and lightness to this rich meal.
I wish there were a little more sour pickles so I could savor them with every bite – spreading them evenly over the cake might fix that too.
Speaking of the cake, I was impressed with how well it goes with all the juices and sauces. The bread does not wilt or crumble under the weight of each layer. Even when I put it down to try the other menu items in front of me and came back to it about 20 minutes later, the cake was still dry and intact.
These potatoes came to my table salted and hot, which I think is always a plus, and something I’ve learned is never foolproof.
They were cut to about 1/2 inch thick and varied in length. Some had a brown potato skin on the outside, which I personally like because it adds texture. Once I had a bite, I could tell it was soft on the inside and almost crunchy on the outside.
However, the potatoes became cold after about 30 minutes. It became harsh and lost most of its flavor as a result.
I chose the more classic burger on the menu, which came with beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and the sauce of choice (a string version of the classic fast-food pink sauce, often referred to as the specialty sauce).
This order also included a side of French fries and totaled $11.95 in Atlanta.
I could tell from the first bite how delicious and juicy the patty was on this burger – this was a huge plus. While the cheese melted well, it didn’t give a satisfactory pulling strength in my opinion.
On top of the burger was a single slice of tomato, sliced thick enough to add flavor and texture to this meal. As a fan of cucumbers, I appreciated the thick cut slices that tasted strongly of dill.
I thought the downfall of this burger – when compared to the one I ate at BurgerFi – was the salad. It was a little weak and mushy and didn’t add anything in terms of flavour.
While the bread used for this cake was fluffy and firm, the Wahlburgers used butter to seal the inside, blocking out the moisture. While enjoying the added crunch, I found it impressive that the BurgerFi bun was able to hold the lid on its own without the help of the extra butter.
These fries were good but not amazing. The potatoes were 1/4 inch thick, flaky, slightly crunchy on the outside and mostly tender on the inside.
While the texture was nice, I found the flavor rather bland. The fries and burgers reminded me of Wendy’s in terms of texture and Burger King’s in terms of taste.
I didn’t have the urge to eat every last one like I usually do, and that was enough to tell me they were fine.
Both meals had great qualities as well as the fall.
Personally, I prefer the non-spicy BurgerFi pickles and the short-lived but delicious fries from the Wahlburgers lettuce and fries.
And while I appreciated the Wahlburger bun while eating, I would have chosen not to consume the extra butter if I had the opportunity.