For the casual dining experience, Merced offers little to appease fans of the traditional “American” hamburger. Of course the usual suspects like Burger King and McDonalds offer variants that too often result in upset and/or unsatisfied stomachs, but Merced deserves a better burger joint. Lucky for us that Mooyah Burger emerged from the greasy gloom of fast food frivolity.
Mooyah is actually a franchised and fairly recognizable establishment, just not in California. In fact, our new neighborhood burger place is the only location in the state. This may enhance the appeal of our “new restaurant on the block,” and spread awareness to surrounding areas. Novelty aside, Mooyah may just be the answer to burger-goers’ demands.
Located on E. Yosemite Avenue across from Starbucks, the restaurant is brimming with a lively atmosphere clearly aimed at the crucial college-aged customer base. The entire place emanates youth; from the pop station playing over the radio to the employees and their enthusiasm for what the mysterious voice that chimes in from time to time says is “the best burger you’ve ever had.” Although slightly over-the-top, the energy of the place got me plenty excited to challenge their claim.
First, I had to order. Customers directly write their order down on elongated cards that clearly list each and every option available. I opted for the original Mooyah Burger with added cheddar cheese, bacon, special sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. The process is meant to expedite the ordering process at the register, but as a crowd started forming, the whole thing felt inefficient. I was left wondering if other locations do this better.
My order was up quickly, and it was time to chow down. The burger was substantial in size, sporting two beef patties by default, in addition to any extras. The meat was cooked perfectly, and the toppings were fresh. Unlike most burger places, they did not cheat me on toppings. There was just enough cheese, bacon, and veggies to keep me happy.
I had the opportunity to try their Mooyah fries as well, and they tasted identical to steak fries of other popular restaurants. I’m not sure if it’s the similarity in seasoning, but I couldn’t tell the difference. It detracted from the Mooyah novelty factor, but they were tasty nonetheless.
At $6 for my customized burger, I felt satisfied for the money. Although I did not spring for a meal deal, I was plenty full, and the small taste of this new burger restaurant was worth the money in my humble opinion. Although I would not claim it my favorite burger, I was pleasantly surprised. Take it from a guy that usually springs for chicken whenever possible, this place is good.
The atmosphere was energetic, at times annoying, and the ordering system felt like it lagged a bit when a crowd began to form, but overall Mooyah Burger is definitely a worthwhile experiment. With inferior options scattered across town, I hope the draw of quality ingredients and speedy service will win burger lovers of all sorts over to this new eatery. And for those not so carnivorous, veggie and turkey burger options are available as well.
If you happen to be craving a burger and can take the time, definitely make Mooyah your destination for a great casual dining experience.