This Ain’t Your Mama’s Burger

    twenty-something desire for upgraded comfort food, famously combining ice cream and freshly baked cookies into one glorious cure for the munchies, the pizookie.

    And now that Motenko’s newest venture Stacked has a new location in Fashion Valley Mall — easily accessible from campus through the 41 bus route — UCSD students can try a modern dining experience designed with the hungry undergrad in mind.

    Stacked is one of the first in a trend of restaurants employing tabletop iPads for the ordering process, making it easy to customize your dish without suffering the disdain of a stressed-out waiter. But the technology, Motenko insists, is just a means to an end: With a menu focused on build-your-own American classics — burgers, pizzas, sausages, salads and ice cream (made in sandwiches or all shook up) — the ease of ordering is crucial.

    The iPad software allows diners to “stack” their own dish (all are served a la carte) — as well as customize any pre-designed favorites — and pay only for the ingredients actually selected (the price changes with every adjustment made). Orders are then sent directly to the kitchen from the iPad, and servers bring the food out when it’s finished.

    It’s best to order in rounds, because there’s no option for picking and choosing what’s sent to the kitchen. So get drinks and appetizers first — that way you can nom on snacks like the delicious sweet potato fries (with an unconventional dip like our pick, a curry ketchup) while you devise your main concoction.

    Prices can shoot up quickly if you go crazy with the extras, but since you always know what you’re paying for, the final check is never surprising. Plus, you can swipe multiple credit cards on the iPad, so you can split checks evenly or by item. The stress of eating out in big groups of friends is then completely eliminated.

    Our only advice: Don’t take Grammie. While the drag-and-drop technology of the iPad is intuitive for the average college student, it might not be easy for those who aren’t as tech-savvy. Admittedly, the waiters can always take orders in person if Grandma’s getting irritated, though the contemporary restaurant — graffiti-adorned walls, high school throwback soundtrack (J-Lo, The Killers) and all — probably won’t gel with her anyway.
    Last Friday, members of the Guardian editorial staff hit up the new Fashion Valley eatery, where Motenko walked us through the ordering process and the menu himself. To show off the limitless ways you can stack a dish, see below for what we ordered and why.
    — Arielle Sallai
    Managing Editor

    Brioche bun + angus beef + lettuce + avocado + tomato + onion strings + pepper jack cheese + ketchup and stacked sauce on the side = $8.59
    I went for a basic cheeseburger with a twist (i.e. avocado and onion strings) and was not disappointed — Stacked doesn’t skimp, no matter how creative you get with your toppings. Even split with a friend, one burger was more than enough for me, and a decadent peanut butter/banana/chocolate chip cookie milkshake completed the American diner experience.
    — Hayley Bisceglia-Martin
    Development Editor

    Whole wheat bun + angus beef + bacon + sauteed mushrooms + potato chips + fried egg + pepper jack cheese + swiss cheese + red pepper aioli + sriracha mayo = $11.09
    I don’t expect much from restaurants located inside shopping malls, but I had a great experience at Stacked. I had the “Wake Up Call” burger which featured a fried egg on top of all the normal burger fare.  The place gets extra points for the complimentary Wi-Fi, decent beer selection and offering of sriracha mayonnaise as a spread or dip.
    — Andrew Oh
    Photo Editor

    Angus beef + bacon + avocado + jalapenos + chili + fried egg + pepper jack cheese = $10.80
    I ordered the sole bunless burger of the night, and made up for the carb deficit by packing on a random assortment of everything else I like.
    Bereft of fancy brioche or pretzel buns, my order instead looked like a gourmet dish slathered in sauces and complete with artfully arranged bacon and jalapeños. Of all the admittedly odd toppings, I regret only the chili, which was the product of over-ambition and had the concoction sitting in my stomach for hours. But the patty was tender, and seemed all the juicier because of the soft cheese and avocado and crunchy peppers. The highlight, however, was the fried egg — which is fitting, seeing as my meal was essentially a glorified breakfast platter.
    — Angela Chen
    Editor in Chief

    Whole wheat bun + veggie patty + green leaf lettuce + tomato + jalapeno + caramelized onion + pepper jack cheese + chipotle mayo = $8.65
    As the veghead of the group, I prepared myself for what I thought would be a bland, afterthought of a burger. But I was pleasantly surprised by the smoky and flavorful vegetarian patty. Plus, the caramelized onion was a great contrast to all the spice I’d loaded up on with the jalapeños and pepper jack cheese.
    — Mina Nilchian
    associate leisure editor

    Brioche bun + angus beef + bacon + avocado + caramelized onion + potato chips + fried egg + garlic aioli = $9.98
    It’s not every day you come across a burger that makes you weep with joy. But they’re out there. When you first sink your teeth into your personal Franken-food monster so outrageous it could be featured on, you’ll understand why tears are streaming down your face.
    My burger — replete with bougie favorites like caramelized onions, avocado, garlic aioli and an angus beef patty — tasted as juicy and messy as any good burger, even with a slightly stale brioche bun.
    — Margaret Yau
    Managing editor

    Whole wheat bun + turkey patty + lettuce + avocado + caramelized onions + potato chips + swiss cheese + cranberry mayo = $9.44
    Equal parts rebellion and nostalgia, my take on Stacked’s “gobbler” burger added creamy avocado, a whole wheat bun, caramelized onions and potato chips to the turkey and cranberry mayo base. The result: some long-forgotten, southern-cooked Thanksgiving dinner wrapped in fresh, Whole Foods yuppiedom. Breaking the rules never tasted this good.
    — Ren Ebel
    Hiatus editor

    Pretzel bun + grilled chicken + lettuce + red pepper + pepper jack cheese + curry ketchup + sriracha mayo = $8.44
    I had a custom Stacked burger with curry ketchup and sriracha mayo (Yum!), though the best thing I had was the caramel apple pie milkshake ($4.99) — lightly dusted with graham cracker and cinnamon, it literally tasted like a pie in creamy form.
    — Emily Pham
    Copy Editor

    Mac ‘n cheese = $4.50
    This place definitely won my approval because, for once, I didn’t have to keep enunciating my order to a waiter who can’t hear my soft voice. Instead, ordering entailed touching, dragging and seeing a visual image of my order-to-come (and I’m a visual person too, so it was a plus).
    At first I thought ordering mac n cheese would be daring, since the dish comes in so many different forms — too creamy, too cheesy, too thick, etc. But when I saw the picture on the iPad, I knew by the looks of it that I would not be disappointed so I went for it.
    The milkshake ($5.10) I ordered was even better than I imagined, though creating it on the iPad gave me a good idea of what to expect. Rich chocolate, fresh whipped cream and chocolate chip cookie chunks all in one glass made me feel like a little kid at Christmas.
    — Monica Haider
    Copy Editor

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