I was poking around the New Jersey blog You Don't Know New Jersey and came across a post about Steve's Burgers in Garfield. This post was convincing enough, and not being one to pass up the chance to find a decent burger, off I went to find this little shack of a place on Route 46.
Steve's must have hired the same painting contractor as Pizza Town USA, up the road a piece. The playful red, white and yellow stripe motif no doubt helps it stand out. You can't miss it. Well, you can miss it, but you'll see it just as you're passing it. Now you have to turn around. Good luck.
If you manage to get back to the place (this time, try the back roads, and skip 46 altogether), you'll be treated to a damned good burger and fries.
The burgers are advertised as being 7 ounces, but I'm guessing they come in more at about 6 ounces. Regardless, they are a perfect size for this style of burger: soft bun, gooey cheese, juicy burger. Mine was cooked to m/r rare as requested (although the raw onion in that request was not present...more on that later).
The fries are certainly fresh cut, and likely twice-cooked. No frozen fries here, and more importantly, the fries were executed perfectly. Salty, crunchy, crispy.
Fries, a cheeseburger, and a can of soda set me back about about 6 dollars, which is a great value considering the quality of the food. Anyone who considers driving past this place and going to Wendy's is surely not thinking clearly.
I couldn't help but draw parallels between Steve's Burgers, and Bucu Burger in Paramus. Both opened recently. Both serve a similar style of burger. Both serve twice-cooked fries. But the differences in the operation are clear. Steve's appears to be a father/son team. Bucu has a sizeable stuff. Steve's sits on a nondescript strip of Route 46, next to an auto repair shop. Bucu sits on Route 4 across from high-end outlet shops. Steve's is serving fresh ground beef, not necessarily from a big-name source. Bucu gets their beef from the much ballyhooed La Frieda. Steve's looks like it was opened with about 20 dollars, a few cans of paint, and a desire to cook good food. Bucu's opening likely included architects, PR and marketing firms, graphic designers, builders, and a bundle of cash.
The important commonality is that you're getting a very good burger. And it blows away Five Guys.
When I paid for lunch I grabbed a bag of those delicious Linden's chocolate chip cookies for the road. The kid said "just take one, we forgot the onions, didn't we." I said that wasn't necessary, but he didn't include the cookies when he rang up the lunch. This struck me as a notable act of customer service. Whether he realized what he was doing or not, sending a customer off with a positive feeling is the stuff of success. And I wish them all the success they deserve.
Steve's Burgers also has hot dogs and cheesesteaks, and probably some other stuff, and they are found here:
Steve's Burgers : 506 Route 46 West (at the corner of Boulevard) : Garfield : 973.772.1770