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The Smoke Signal at the Counter


Some of the burger combinations available at the Counter’s Fremont location.

By: Hairol Ma


First opened in 2003 in Santa Monica, California by Jeff Weinstein, The Counter immediately earned a worthy reputation as one of the hottest restaurants around when it was mentioned on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Known for its innovative custom-built burger scheme, The Counter quickly became a favorite of celebrities, such as Nicole Richie. Since 2003, The Counter has opened various locations in the United States, Ireland, and even Saudi Arabia. The Counter offers both a sit-down meal and take-out. After its opening on April 21, you can now get your own bite of fame at the Fremont location at the intersection of Paseo Padre and Walnut.


Ambiance: 4/5
With its pulsing music and modern furnishings, The Counter’s sleek interior mirrors its motto of “creative construction.” Circular glass bulbs encasing dim cylindrical lights dangle from the ceiling, casting a warm glow onto the white booths and chairs. Large blackboards with chalked menus and specials decorate the walls, and the bar offers a clear view of two flat screen televisions. Overall, The Counter provides a comfortable and homey atmosphere. However, customers must wait outside to be seated- which would be bearable in the chill if the outdoor heat lamp was turned on.


Service: 5/5
Enthusiastic and attentive, the chipper staff at The Counter effuses hospitality. Although it is clear that the staff is still inexperienced, especially in response to the hectic first opening day, each customer is greeted with a warm welcome, and waiters/waitresses frequently check up on every table to make sure customers receive the ultimate Counter experience. Joe Gaudet, the manager of the Fremont Counter, is also very friendly and helpful. Orders were also mixed up and waits were unusually long- it took 13 minutes just for the check to arrive. However, this is understandable, since the restaurant was fully packed on opening day.


Food: 4/5
It’s evident from the moment you inhale the beautiful burger fumes that The Counter is in a different league from all other burger chains in Fremont. Besides the quality of food, however, The Counter’s custom- built burger concept is what truly sets it apart from other restaurants. At The Counter, each customer can create over 312,120 topping combinations, while enjoying a high quality meal. Hormone- and antibiotic- free beef, organic bison, and quinoa are only a few of the many choices to make a custom built burger. The onion strings, sweet potato fries, and French fries are cooked to perfection- not too oily, but crispy on the outside, achingly flavorful and soft inside. The quality of the beef is evident from the first bite- anyone can tell that not much seasoning and marinating was used to transform its taste- instead, seasoning is added to enhance and complement the beef’s natural flavor. The brioche bun, something that can’t be found in other burger chains such as The Habit or Five Guys, is lightly toasted and browned- none of your dry, sesame-adorned buns here. The Counter offers a local high-class burger experience, one that won’t be surpassed in all of Fremont.
Despite the euphoria your taste buds will experience after the meal, your wallet won’t be sharing the same sentiments. With a base burger price of at least $9.00, the bill will undoubtedly reach new heights, potentially hovering at around $20.00 a person, once the prices of appetizers and drinks are added. Though the burger pricing is reasonable (mainly due to the essential quality of each individual agreement), the starters average from $4.50 to $6.50- a tad overpriced for something as simple as a medium sized bowl of fries.


Overall, The Counter adds creativity and adventure to a quality burger, guaranteed to become a local hotspot.

Rating: 4/5


Photos: Courtesy of The Counter

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