“Thank you ma’am, may I have another?” – The Shwack Beach Grill, Dana Point

Orange County Burgers
Big Al’s Bacon burger, The Shwack Beach Grill, Dana Point

The Shwack Beach Grill. I’m not so sure about the name to be honest. The “Shwack” beach grill? What is that, like “Shhhh” and “wack” put into one word like “linkitivity” (Barney Stinson)? Anyway, once you get past the misguided name and put their burger in your mouth, you’re sure to forget the ridiculousness with which the place is called (that is, until the burger-glow wears off)…

Menu Name: Big Al’s Bacon burger ($5.45)

  • 1/3 lb. Vintage Mixed Hormone-free Beef
  • Sponge-dough Bun
  • American Cheese
  • Crispy Onions Strings
  • Smoked Bacon
  • Hickory BBQ Sauce

Calorie Count: Approx. 400 kcals

As soon as I bit into heaven, ahem, I mean the burger, I knew why this place had been voted best burger in Dana Point. The bun, very well toasted, felt as though I had bitten through a buttered piece of a cloud, gently showing me the way to the heart of creation. Surrounding that angelic-cloud called the bun, was a haze of smoke, that filled my mouth with that historic hickory flavor. Crunching into the meat, my teeth moved past an array of crispy onion strings, american cheese and smoked bacon; giving my face the most delightful smile. This is a damn good burger. A BBQ burger done right, without using the “bbq” flavor to overpower anything. And for the price of $5.45, it is one of the cheapest in its category.

Now after I finished the burger, I was able to take the burger off the pedestal, and give it the critiques it deserved.

For one, the crispy onion strings weren’t exactly cripsy. Fried? Yes. But crispy, not really. They needed to be left in the fryer a bit longer to achieve that perfect level of crunchiness my teeth can feel.

Another thing was the bacon. It’s not that it wasn’t good, it just wasn’t that noticeable. They clearly don’t use enough of it on the burger, which would really add to the mural.

Shwack Spuds, The Shwack Beach Grill, Dana Point

There’s only so much I can say about this picture, none of which are positive: The cut of the fry was too thick. I don’t mind a potato wedge style fry… But this, this was trying to be somewhere between a wedge and crispy, and it failed at both. Not only was the potato on the inside hard, but the outside again lacked in crispness. The seasoning should have been their savior, but it wasn’t. Simply sprinkling on a bit of pepper and salt isn’t going to cut it. It needed to do one of two options: 1. Dump that shit on – Not that I ever agree with this action, you are able to cover the dull-tasting potato by overloading it; or 2. A store-bought or house-made seasoning blend that would properly blanket the potatoes. But if I were them, I would just scrap the “spud” idea all-together. I applaud the effort, but now it’s time to close the curtains.

Now gents, I always finish my plate… And saying I don’t, I definitely take the remains home, no matter how few left; However, I didn’t with these. It was sad really, looking down at that paper boat, filled to the brim with potato, and not caring whether each and every “fry” was in my belly. And at $2.50, the price did not correlate to taste, only location.

Oh, and they used salad ranch as the side. S-A-L-A-D ranch… Can you believe that? Pathetic really. Needless to say, it didn’t help the “fries”, or “spuds”, out at all. I was pretty disappointed. In all my burger adventures, I had never met a ranch salad dressing face-into-mouth. For god sakes, they served this atrocity with the fries… I didn’t even have to ask for it on the side.

SPOILER ALERT: Before I get to the grading of the burger, I want to say a little bit about the performance during “The Knife Test”. It fails, for it was neither a steak knife, nor metal. Yet, it had cut better than some metal butter knives I’ve used. It was special, for what it was: A hard, plastic, serrated knife.

Grading Scale

  1. Burger taste… 9.0 out of 10
  2. Burger presentation… 9.0 out of 10
  3. Burger ingredients… 8.0 out of 10
  4. Price… 8.5 out of 10
  5. Knife test… FAIL


TOTAL: 34.5/40 = .862% B

Now I don’t want to leave a bad taste in your mouth about the place just because of the fries. Luckily, the menu is À la carte therefore next time I go, I just won’t buy them.

But the burger, ah, the burger should not be forgotten. It was a very well-done bbq-style burger, one of the best I’ve had from a burger-stand! And aside from a few errors in quantity of ingredients (which could be fixed by a better cook), I would not hesitate one moment in coming back.

Thus, sliding in at #11 on THE Burger List, as well as #2 ranking on the $10 & Under List (OC), The Shwack Beach Grill’s, Big Al’s Bacon Burger.

Note: Actual ranking is subject to change when new burgers make the list. Also, the percentage score will not reflect the burgers’ ranking on the list, for each burger is unique and must be graded on it’s own merits. For up-to-date rankings, check THE Burger List in the menu! Thanks.

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