RESTAURANT REVIEW: Wahlburgers (1033 North 2nd Street)
I recently had the displeasure of eating at Wahlburgers, located at 1033 North 2nd Street at Schmidt’s Commons. The Boston-based burger chain is owned by Paul Wahlberg in partnership with his more famous brothers Mark and Donnie.
I’ll get right to it: Wahlburgers was disappointing. Admitting that it wasn’t my favorite place or that I hardly enjoyed the burger breaks my heart. I’m a huge fan of Mark Wahlberg’s movies. I’m known to drunkenly quote him from the hit comedy “The Other Guys”, shouting “I’m a peacock, you gotta let me fly!” As a fan, I was really looking forward to enjoying my dining experience here but, unfortunately, I did not.
Let’s start with the good. There were many astonishing elements to the atmosphere that created a friendly vibe within the restaurant. Upon walking in, staff members were holding the door for us and smiling. Each employee kindly greeted us and did their best to accommodate our needs.
The restaurant is rather large and can hold quite a few people. It has indoor and outdoor seating. I enjoyed some of the little details, such as the logo (which is a W) being turned upside-down to create an M letter for the men’s bathroom. I also enjoyed the decorative fixture on the ceiling. It was a large metal structure with the titles of movies Wahlberg has starred in cut into it.
The entire restaurant feels like it’s going for a West Coast In-N-Out Burger mixed with a T.G.I.F. It’s a “put the drinks in plastic to-go cup and serve the burgers in a plastic basket” sort of place. For me, growing up out West, it had a nostalgic feel. There is an industrial style décor, as well. The overall atmosphere and staff were phenomenal.
Now onto the food. I ordered the Triple Decker Burger, which is three 3 oz. burgers, lettuce, tomato, onion, “government” cheese, Paul’s signature Wahl sauce and housemade pickles. When it came to the table I was practically drooling. It looks fantastic in the picture, doesn’t it? The bun was noticeably soggy and upon taking my first bite, it broke off leaving a portion of the burger naked. This shouldn’t happen ever, yet alone in the first few bites.
For a $10 burger, the meat seemed low quality, like it was distributed from the same place that Sonic’s gets their ingredients from. If this came from a food truck, I could understand why you might get away with something like this. Food trucks only have limited resources. Some food trucks still get it right, like Spot Gourmet Burgers, Steak and Pork, who does a fantastic job with their resources and provides their guests with gourmet burgers. But at a brick-and-mortar restaurant like Wahlburger’s, this burger was unacceptable.
There is a reason why you’ll find more mom-and-pop shops in Philadelphia rather than chain restaurants. This feels like one of the latter. It hits the spot if you’re going to have a large group of people and you need to eat something quick and reliable, but if you’re looking for a burger that will “wow” you, you’re better off eating at any number of other restaurants in the area. •