Restaurant Review: The Habit Grill in the Mid-Way

by on February 6, 2014 · 10 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

habit jc insideThe Habit Grill
3455 Sports Arena Blvd., #104
San Diego, CA 92110

 Just what the area needed – another hamburger restaurant. My favorite has been “Raglan Public House” ever since it opened, with “Hodad’s” and “In and Out Burger” second and third. Yes, I have tried the other “new” ones in Liberty Station; in Mission and Fashion Valley, but Raglan’s still comes out on top to my palate.

I picked up my granddaughter Molli at school today and rather than take her to my house for dinner until her mother picked her up, I decided a fresh, young palate would help me with my review. We went to “The Habit” because it is new to our area; it is in the Ralph’s/Target shopping center; and is across the road from PetCo – all places I needed to stop at after she was picked up.

From the side that we came into the parking lot from it appeared to be closed, but when I drove around to the front of the building it was open, albeit dark. The first thing I would suggest is better lighting along the side of the restaurant. There is an outside patio, replete with space heaters, but the lighting is still bad.

habit jc inside2When entering the restaurant there is an order window about 10 feet into the store. The menu is on a menu board, and there are take-out menu’s also available. When we first arrived there was only one person taking our orders – Brittany – who was a delight to work with – but by the time we left there were two ladies taking orders.

The menu is somewhat limited – Charburgers starting at $2.95 and going up to $4.45 for a Mushroom Swiss Charburger. Cheese is 50 cents more; avocado or mushrooms are $1 additional. Lettuce wrapped burgers are also available. The “Original” special is a Charburger, fries and a regular drink for $6.20; a “double charburger” is $1.00 more. There is a “kid favorite” for $3.95; grilled sandwiches starting at $4.95 for the Veggie Burger and the Chicken Club at $6.75 is the most expensive.

There are six salads offered, beginning with $3.95 for the Garden and/or Caesar Salad, and the Santa Barbara Cobb is $7.15. Adding grilled Albacore or Tri-tip raises the price to $3.50.

There are four sides – French fries at $1.85; Onion Rings at $1.95; Sweet Potato Fries at $2.65 and a side salad or side Caesar salad for $2.25. Besides the regular drinks, they also offer Shakes, Malts, Cones and Sundaes.

habit jc chezsandMolli ordered a Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($3.45) and she was very pleased with it. She said the cheese was melted all the way through; the sour dough bread was nicely browned and not burnt as it frequently is at other establishments. I ordered a Charburger that was cooked nicely – I was not asked how I wanted it cooked –and had all of the accompaniments usually associated with hamburgers. The bun was fresh as was the lettuce and tomatoes. (Unfortunately, due to a malfunction of my camera the picture of the charburger did not come out.)

habit jc friesMolli and I both ordered French fries, which were nothing special. Not particularly hot, but warm enough so that they were tasty. I ordered a Mocha malt – again no picture because of the camera) but it lacked the “malt” flavor that I wanted. They also offer milk shakes and I can’t help but wonder if the malt ingredient was left out. It was ok – but doesn’t compare to the milkshake at Hodad’s, for example.

It is interesting to note that my daughter picked up two burgers to take home for dinner. She said that hers was very good, but her husband’s was so rare that he could not eat it. He said it almost looked like it had not been cooked at all. Since neither of us were asked how he wanted our burgers cooked, it might be a good idea to add this to the ordering process.

While we waiting for Molli’s mother to come get her, we decided to order the sweet potato fries and a chocolate malt for Molli. And, once again, the malt tasted like a milk shake because there was no discernible malt flavor. The sweet potato fries, while hotter than the regular fries, could not compare with the sweet potato fries – nor the shoe string fries – at Raglan’s. Yes, they were much less expensive, but it is taste I am paying for – not food fillers. I would not order either of the potato products again.

habit jc friesspicThe restaurant was clean; there was a lot of traffic in and out of the store. It seats many people – more than 12 tables inside; just as many outside – and there seemed to be a large take-out crowd as well. Each person is given a buzzer, and when the food is ready the buzzer sounds. The food is served on a tray with a paper with this saying placed on the plastic itself :

The burger is an American icon. You don’t fry an American Icon. You put it on a pedestal. You chargrill it over an open flame. You top it with fresh-cut lettuce, ripe tomatoes, caramelized onions and melted cheese. You wrap it neatly in paper and serve it alongside crisp, hot fries. That’s what we do at the “Habit Burger Grill”. Because we respect our customers. And we RESPECT THE BURGER.

Habit jc buzr I respect the management and their product. Would I return? Maybe. I received a $5 discount coupon for answering an on-line survey. Since the total of our bill was $20.14, the enticement to return is there. But given the choice of Raglan, Hodad’s, and In and Out Burger …The Habit would be my 4th choice.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar judi curry February 6, 2014 at 10:41 am

I want to add that when Stephanie came to pick up Molli she ordered two charburgers to take home for her and Molli’s father. She told me last night that her charburger was cooked perfectly; Barry’s was so red that he could not eat it. I would suggest that when you place your order you specify how you want it cooked, since you are not asked that question at the time of ordering.

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avatar OB Wood February 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

I totally agree, Judi. Burgers are fine, nothing wrong with the restaurant. But there isn’t really anything that separates them from any other burger place. And it feels very chain-y. It’s no Hodad’s, for sure. Or In and Out. Tough to justify going back.

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avatar OB Mercy February 10, 2014 at 9:58 am

Judi, I’m surprised you didn’t mention the paltry size of the burger. It’s less than 1/4 pound!! That is why they don’t ask how you want it cooked. And that your friend had a rare burger….I can only think they must have put it on the grill for about 30 seconds, because any longer, it’s a flat, dried out hockey puck.

I didn’t give them a great review on Yelp, but I’m also spoiled by Raglan as you are. I even got coupons in the mail for a free burger, but I won’t be back. This is also why the burgers are so cheap…it’s barely there!

I rarely eat burgers out anymore because I don’t want growth hormones or anti-biotics in my meat. Raglan….all organic.

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avatar judi curry February 10, 2014 at 10:21 am

I am always surprised how similar our likes and dislikes are. I won’t be back either, but judging from the number of people that were there; were picking up take-out orders etc; it will probably be a success. It’s fast-food but gives the appearance of a “sit down restaurant!” I think that appeals to many people.

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avatar Bob March 12, 2014 at 11:50 am

What is organic at Raglan other than the burger meat?

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avatar judi curry March 12, 2014 at 11:57 am

I don’t know who you are, Bob, but you pose some interesting questions. Are you going through all of my reviews and asking questions about them?

The meat at Raglan is 100% organic. It is thick, not greasy, tasty, and 100% better than the Habit.

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avatar Bob March 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I’ve read them all before Judi, but it makes me wonder what others mean by “quality”, and do they really know what they are eating? Probably not. Should the consumer ask more questions? Definitely.

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avatar judi curry March 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Hey Bob. Would you ever consider going to review a restaurant with me? Judi

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avatar Bob March 12, 2014 at 7:45 pm

That’d be nice, but I work in the industry and like being anonymous. I don’t wanna lose my job. And do people really wanna know that the fries they love come out of a bag from the freezer? Or that the fryer oil might contain chemicals to make it last longer? I think most people just care about taste and cost, not what they are really consuming and where it came from. I am glad that there are some folks out there that are changing the way fast food engineers their products. Those places serve garbage (lierally) and market it to children. Shame on them.

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avatar judi curry March 12, 2014 at 7:46 pm

If you ever change your mind let me know. Judi

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