The bar: Shula Burger, Delray Marketplace, western Delray Beach
The vibe: We’d never heard the term “Fast Casual Plus” before stepping into this shiny, clean and cozy chamber of sizzling beef goodness, but it applies. Diners at Shula Burger, named for legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula, order at the counter, but then sit at comfy tables and have the sandwich, salad or decadent dessert of their choice delivered to them. At surrounding tables you could find local business folk on their lunch break, shoppers and employees from the Marketplace, and/or families on their way to concerts or coming to or from a movie or bowling. Everyone’s looking for a quality casual meal at a good price. And that’s a plus.
The drink: Carrie LaNoce, owner of this first Shula Burger franchise that’s been in Delray since last summer, says the Tropical White Sangria is not only a perfect cool summer drink, but great when paired with several of the joint’s burgers. It’s a fruity, lovely marriage between sangria mix and white wine, with the sparkle of soda and fresh fruit. It’s a classy accompaniment for a burger. Then again, these burgers are pretty classy. For the moment, this refreshing sangria is a summer thing, but LaNoce hopes it’s popular enough to hang around.
Other notable libations: On the Shula Burger counter sits an iPad that offers pairing suggestions for the restaurant’s beer and wine selection. Would your choice go better with a refreshingly easy-drinking Angry Orchard hard cider? Napa’s Decoy red blend from the Duckhorn Wine Company? There are six beers on tap, four white wines, four red and one sparkling.
Bar bites: It’s a burger joint, so food is the main event. Before you get to the meat stuff, there are the perfect big yummy onion rings, served with a strawberry chipotle sauce made from Smucker’s jam. It’s so unexpected and good that you will kick yourself for not creating it yourself. After that, try the French Onion Burger, which tastes exactly like it sounds with caramelized onions and such. Then there’s the Rise and Shine burger, also a summer visitor, with two honking pieces of bacon and a perfect fried egg whose yolk, when pierced oozes all over so creamy and good and why am I hungry right now talking about this? Also check out the Don, which Coach Shula himself created, featuring a big burger and a hot dog. Once again …Why did I not think of this?
Interesting fact: Shula apparently is a frequent visitor to the restaurant, where he likes to check things out but often winds up shaking hands, meeting fans and signing stuff.
Info:Shula Burger, 14917 Lyons Road, Delray Beach. 561-404-1347
TROPICAL WHITE SANGRIA
2 1/2 ounces Finest Call White Sangria mix
2 1/2 ounces pinot grigio
1 ounce club soda
3 lemon wheel
3 orange segments
6 chopped pieces of green apple
Combine wine and sangria mix. Stir in club soda and fruit. Chill.
BY LESLIE GRAY STREETER