Behind the the walls of a currently unassuming brick-faced building on Sansom Street is Center City Philadelphia’s latest burger joint. 500º opens today and features handcrafted burgers and fries using only the highest quality ingredients. Owners Rob and Maggie Wasserman, found inspiration for the restaurant and its menu from the their taste of success with the burger at, Rouge. At the Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival in 2009, Rouge offered a mini version of the burger, with the same ingredients at a much more affordable price. After quickly selling out that day, and the following explosion of demand for burgers in Philadelphia in recent months, the Wassermans set out on their latest concept.
Yesterday, we were granted the opportunity to check out the food and space before the official opening. The summation in three words: precision in simplicity. That precision is indicated in their name, drawn from the operating temperature of the grill. The burger initiative at 500º is being spearheaded by Rouge Executive Chef, Matt Zagorski. He’s told us that 500º will be using 5.5oz Certified Hereford Beef burgers from Ashley Foods with the same proprietary blend from that has made the Rouge burger a national success. The meat is ground thickly to ensure that a texture is retained even when cooked at rare temperatures. All burgers are served on fresh challah rolls from Wild Flour Bakery, from which they’ll be receiving deliveries twice daily. All burgers will also be made to order according to guests’ preferences, fine-tuned to meet the temperature of perfection according to their order (from rare to well-done).
Our favorite burger was “The 500″ with bibb lettuce, tomato, cheddar, bacon and a special house sauce. This sauce isn’t the typical thousand island dressing by any means, it was sweet, mildly tangy and resembled a smooth dijon mustard in color and texture. Chef Zagorski wouldn’t give up any details to its ingredients, with the exception of noting that cloves were used for its aromatic flavor. All five of their burgers can be ordered individually for under $6 or as combos ranging fro $9 to $12.50. Upon opening guests will have access to the entire menu, with a selection of cheeses includes domestic Swiss, provolone, cheddar and American. Along the lines of toppings, pickles, bacon, mushrooms, jalapenos and grilled red onions can be added to any of the burgers. We certainly can’t forget the amazing hand-cut fries that came with our burger. They’re available plain, with spicy seasoning or dressed with truffle oil. Complementing the burgers and fries are fountain sodas and milkshakes (chocolate, vanilla or black & white) made from locally-owned and sourced Bassetts Ice Cream.
We’re sure 500º is likely to be a Center City staple for years to come for those in search of a great quality burger, fast and don’t necessarily want to people watch at Rittenhouse Square. It opens today with various promotions starting at 11:00 am. The first 100 people will be given a free burger of their choice. After that, until 3pm, bring a friend and split the bill with a buy-1-get-1. From 5-7pm enjoy free soda and fries with the purchase of any burger. And then finally, from 11pm until their yet-undetermined closing time, enjoy free fries with any purchase.