These are classic, old-fashioned burgers, from the toasted buns and hefty meat patty to the cool, shredded lettuce and luscious tomato slice. Wrapped tightly in paper, the burger survives even the biggest chomp intact. My home-from-college son feels that this is a critical burger judging point. He likes a snug burger that will withstand munching with no slippage from the bun.
The Habit burger passes muster with ease. The flavor is meaty, with freshness from all components. Sandwiches include pastrami ($5.25) and club ($6.25), as well as a charbroiled albacore with teriyaki and house-made tartar sauce. All sandwiches are built on a toasted French roll or grilled sourdough.
The tri-tip sandwich ($5.45) is offered with a choice of barbecue sauce or teriyaki sauce. Again, the garnishes (tomato, shredded lettuce, grilled onions) are crisp and fresh. Big slabs of charbroiled beef tri-tip take center stage ? a beef-lover's delight.
If beef isn't your idea of summer fare, the salads are huge, crisp and cold. Barbecue Chicken Salad ($5.95) brims with crunchy romaine, iceberg and red cabbage, with cilantro and onions bringing in a little Latin flavor.
Chopped tomatoes, crisp bacon and grilled chicken are abundant, and the whole salad is generously drizzled with smoky barbecue sauce. No dressing required, but offerings include balsamic vinaigrette, ranch, honey dijon, Thousand Island, creamy gorgonzola or fat-free French basil.
The Santa Barbara Cobb ($6.45) is big enough to share. Crunch is the name of the game, with crisp-chilled lettuce, tiny jewels of chopped tomato and red onion, and generous lashings of blue cheese and chicken. A jaunty ice-cream scoop of avocado chunks crowns this delicious summer lunch salad.
Sides are key at a burger joint. The Habit's fries are crisp, but not at all greasy, with a tender interior and true potato flavor. The onion rings are deep golden, almost orange, with a jagged texture that provides a most satisfying crunch.
The onion stays inside the ring with each bite, instead of pulling out in a chin-sweeping strand. I don't eat a lot of onion rings, but these are quite addictive, especially dipped in either ranch dressing or ketchup ? or both.
And what would a burger place be without shakes? I haven't yet indulged, but a glance around the dining area or patio reveals a number of diners happily struggling with their straws ? a sure sign of a properly thick treat.
If this heat holds, I'll be heading back for a Mocha Malt ($2.65) for a chilly liquid lunch.