I made the mistake the other week of thinking I could quickly duck into Bad Daddy Burger Bar right before catching a showing of Black Panther at Phipps Plaza. (Those plush, reclining leather seats are the way to watch a movie). The restaurant was packed even though it was only 5:30 p.m.—an hour I normally reserve for taking my kid to dinner on a Friday. From the looks of the crowd (and the 20-minute wait), many families had the same idea.
Bad Daddy, which first opened in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2007, now has twenty restaurants across the country. The first Georgia location opened recently across the street from the new Whole Foods Chamblee on Peachtree Boulevard, an area that has exploded with development in the past few years.
If you arrive at a prime hour, prepare to wait. If patience isn’t your strong suit—no judgment here—the bar is a required first stop. The bartenders do an excellent job of keeping hungry people happy with cheerful banter, even if they get a bit backlogged. These are the type of bartenders that learn your name, write it down, and build up a rapport with you while you are in their care. In other words, they’re pros. The drink menu is deep for a burger bar, including “Bad Ass Rocks Margaritas” that are so strong there is two-per-customer limit and Moscow Mules in the requisite copper mugs. All of restaurant’s milkshakes, including the Boozy Elvis (creamy peanut butter, Ghirardelli chocolate, banana, and walnuts), can also be ordered spiked.
The appetizer menu is loaded with satisfying gut bombs you can’t help but treat yourself to. The Bad Daddy nachos are all Tex-Mex with tomato-heavy chili, black beans, black olives, and tomatoes, slathered in a bubbling blanket of “Bad Daddy’s Amber Ale Queso.” The mountain of chips (which are freshly fried and perfectly crisp) is then finished with brittle batons of bacon and sliced green onions. There are also hand-cut potato chips served with homemade french onion dip, hand-breaded fried pickles, chicken wings, and tots covered in buffalo sauce, blue cheese, and green onions.
You can build your own burger or order one of the dozen or so varieties on the menu. My classic All American burger (with housemade American cheese, a nice touch) was an overall pleasing restaurant-style burger. While Atlanta’s beloved thin-patty double-stacks are great (I was known to try to take down the three-burger “Wimpy” platter at Bocado back when Todd Ginsberg helmed the kitchen), sometimes a thick patty topped with the traditional offerings—crunchy lettuce, tomato, and onion—just hits the spot. If you’re looking for something a little more unique, the Bad Ass Burger (pictured above) puts buttermilk fried bacon on top of a 10 oz. Angus-blend patty, along with housemade American cheese, horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomato, and pickle.
There are also fried chicken sandwiches and the Cantina Burger, a fried or grilled black bean burger with white cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, green chiles, avocado, and chipotle ranch dressing. The sides are all homemade, and no matter what you get—french fries, tater tots, potato chips—you must get a side of the bacon mayo dipping sauce. Non-negotiable. It tastes like the hickory sauce that tops Houston’s hickory burger but creamier and with a little more of a kick.
Like the burger menu, the salads can also be customized to your liking. Fellow big salad devotees will be happy to know these are indeed meal-sized, large enough to satisfy Elaine Benes’s appetite. If you’re not counting calories, the Texican has everything you could want in a fried chicken salad. Crunchy romaine lettuce is blanketed with well-seasoned, buttermilk-fried chicken breast, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and tortilla strips, then topped with a light coating of homemade buttermilk ranch.
Bad Daddy Burger Bar’s biggest draw is its utility. It the kind of place that you can take anyone you need to entertain: your kid, a date, a colleague, even your dog (the porch is “pooch-friendly“). And if the huge crowds are any indication, that kind of crowd-pleasing, kid-friendly restaurant is something this part of Chamblee both wanted and needed. 5070 Peachtree Boulevard, Chamblee, 770-558-3217