Smile Politely

Solid smashburgers and bar snacks by Smith Burger Co at Collective Pour

An overhead photo of the author's appetizers and burger at Smith Burger Co in Champaign, Illinois. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

If you’ve been around Champaign for awhile, you might remember when Collective Pour served jumbo soft pretzels and appetizers or food by Weird Meat Boyz Kitchen, but now the bar is home to the dine-in location of Smith Burger Co. Opened as a food truck in 2021, Smith Burger still operates their green truck, but the smashburger business now runs the kitchen inside Collective Pour bar, too, serving smashburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and sharable appetizers.

The exterior of Collective Pour and Smith Burger Co. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Before this review, Smith Burger Co was already on my radar because of their collaborative burgers. Their first one The Lady Della (a smashburger mashup with Baldarotta’s) was incredible, and then there was the amazing Glazed and Confused burger on a Ye Olde glazed doughnut. In 2022, they slung a burger topped with Maize’s al pastor, and they did it again this May. These special burgers aren’t on the regular menu, though; the menu at Collective Pour is the same as the food truck, but sometimes special burgers or apps are available.

For this review, I went with my husband twice: once to split some appetizers and a second time for a dinner date.

An overhead photo of the author's first meal at Smith Burger Co at Collective Pour in Downtown Champaign. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

The ordering process for Smith Burger Co food is separate from ordering a drink. We ordered our drinks at the bar and ordered food from the designated Smith Burger Co stand on the far left. There was a cashier who took our order, and after we paid, we received a buzzer (just like the food truck) to let us know when the food was ready.

An order of cheese curds at Collective Pour. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Cheese curds are a staple in the Midwest, and Smith Burger’s Wisconsin white cheddar cheese curds ($7.75) were great. They came out of the kitchen fast, and I loved the crispy, crunchy batter surrounding the hot cheese. The pop-able size made the curds a perfect bar snack.

An order of sweet potato tots garnished with a mallow cream. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

We ordered a side of the sweet potato tots ($4.75) with the marshmallow drizzle ($0.25). This is my husband’s favorite thing to get from the food truck. The ‘mallow sauce pairs well with the natural sweetness of the potato. Dusted with a cinnamon-chipotle seasoning, those hot little tots tasted yummy like a bite-sized, deep-fried sweet potato casserole.

A ranch burger at Collective Pour. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

We also ordered a bacon ranch burger ($12.50) with a side of Cajun fries ($2.25) to split. The burger had two beef patties, American cheese, a generous drip of ranch, and bacon on a lightly toasted bun. The meaty middle was the star: the double patties were smashed thin with a tasty, charred flavor, and the two slices of bacon were thick and delicious. I enjoyed the creamy, tangy flavor of Smith Burger’s housemade ranch and how much of it they added to the burger. I do wish the cheese had melted more, but overall, it was a solid smashburger. The combination of burger, fries, and a cold beer really does hit.

Though Smith Burger Co’s menu includes a BLT, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches, the restaurant is known for burgers, so we went back for more burgers.

Two burger tacos at Smith Burger Co have a burger patty on a grilled tortilla with raw white onion, lettuce, pickles, and a lot of orange sauce. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

On our second visit, we ordered the tacos de gordo ($9), a special burger-taco appetizer inspired by a viral trend. Made with a single beef patty, American cheese, onion slices, chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, pickles, and a lot of special sauce, the smashburger tacos were super messy and tasted good. Blistered on the griddle, the tortillas did a nice job holding the burger and all its toppings. The made-in-house orange sauce was very tangy and made the taco taste like a Big Mac. Pickles can vary, and maybe not everyone has a pickle preference, but I do. I like thinly-sliced pickles — the type on this tacos de gordo; those pickles (and really, all the toppings) with the cheeseburger patty gave the tacos a burger vibe. It was a fun special for a burger joint.

On a tray, there is a burger with an overeasy egg, American cheese, and bacon by Smith Burger Co. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

For my dinner, I ordered the Sunday morning burger ($13.25), which had two beef patties with American cheese, two slices of bacon, and an egg on top. I also ordered plain fries ($2.25) plus a side of ranch ($0.50) to round out the carbacious meal.

The over-easy yolk burst a delicious eggy glaze over the beef, cheese, and bacon. A bar burger has no business being this good; it was seriously so, so good. The runny yolk with the gooey cheese melted into the bacon, and the burger tasted like weekend brunch — but on a Friday night, and I loved it.

A goat cheese burger on special at Smith Burger Co. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

My husband ordered one of the special burgers called goat fig-ure ($14). This special had double beef patties topped with caramelized onions, goat cheese, and balsamic-bacon-fig jam. The toppings were delicious; the creamy goat cheese went really well with the onions and beef, and the jam’s balsamic and bacon flavors were balanced by the fig’s sweetness. With the rich goat cheese and bacon jam, it tasted like a charcuterie burger. While the tangy cheese and sweet jam were terrific on top, the bottom was sometimes missing the best flavors. An extra layer of cheese or jam would’ve made this better, but my husband still said it was a good burger.

An overhead photo of macaroni in a paper cup with a plastic fork beside it. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

We also ordered a side of the white cheddar pepper jack mac ($5). The noodles were cooked well, and cavatappi was a nice shape for the thin sauce. It’s a tasty white macaroni, albeit simple. The cheese sauce didn’t really have a pronounced pepper flavor, more of a hint.

An order of onion rings by Smith Burger Co for dine in. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Lastly, we ordered a basket of onions rings ($8.50). Smith Burger’s rings were big — and there were a lot of them. I need to go off about how awesome these onion rings were. The batter was as crispy as a cracker, and they tasted so good. I enjoyed the Western sauce for dipping; it had a smoky barbecue flavor that tasted great with the onion rings. If you like onion rings, Smith Burger Co’s are a must-try.

On a brown table, there are two drinks: a red cocktail called Paper Plane and an orange beer. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

To pair with dinner, I ordered Collective Pour‘s paper plane cocktail, which has whiskey, amaro, Aperol, and lemon juice. It’s my go-to beverage here because it’s a little tart and a lot boozy. My husband had a golden ale out of Elburn, Illinois called Orange Pop Cultured, which tasted like orange soda.

Collective Pour is a good bar to meet up with friends for a drink, but with the addition of Smith Burger Co, the location has even more of a draw. We love a burger in Champaign-Urbana, and there’s no shortage of places to snag burgers, especially in Downtown Champaign, but Smith Burger Co’s smashburgers are solid choice.

Follow Smith Burger on Instagram.

Smith Burger Co
340 N Neil St
T-Sa 5 to 9 p.m.

Food + Drink Editor / / instagram

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