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Wicked Cultured

A Burger Break With Wahlberg

Metro Editor

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

If nothing else, Mark Wahlberg can make a mean burger.

My opinion is still out on whether or not I like him as an actor (and more importantly, how I feel about his accent), but on the food front, Wahlberg has done a fantastic job with Hingham’s Wahlburger’s restaurant. The joint is run by a trio of Wahlbergs—Mark and Donnie still hold down their acting careers while Paul manages the restaurant—and serves up the ideal munchies for Ted and John (of Mahky Mahk’s latest film, Ted).

I had never heard a whisper about this place existing before driving this week with friends, when I was emphatically and insistently pointed toward it. Although it took several U-turns, a few moments of road rage, and plenty of confused yelling, we made it to the infamous Wahlburger’s half an hour before closing time. And it was worth the effort.

The only way to describe Wahlburger’s is as the best and worst of a fast food restaurant: best in quality and taste bud delight, undoubtedly worst in waistline effects.

For example, Donnie’s choice on the menu is the BBQ Bacon Burger, stacked with white cheddar cheese, bacon, avocado, jalapenos, and BBQ sauce. Yes, that is all on one burger. So as delicious as this burger shack is on a rare occasion, it is frightening to think that there may be one within reach of the T by the end of 2012.

The boys are getting a bit of help in their expansion, having hired former Panera executive CEO Rick Vanzura to oversee the changes. They have made noises about opening a series of restaurants in the UK, which frankly sounds strange to me. I can’t imagine the Boston-bred clan heading across the pond, and they have said that they would prefer to open somewhere in Beantown near Fenway, Back Bay, or the Waterfront (any of which locations would be significantly run by Vanzura).

Not to say that the Wahlbergs need saving by Vanzura and went into business on a lark. They only opened in October of 2011, and are already expanding, which is impressive for any first-time business owner. Granted, the family’s fame plays a part in their success (I was sold on the side trip as soon as I heard it was Mark Wahlberg—as in the Mark Wahlberg—who owned it), but it isn’t the reason people come back again and again. The burgers take care of that job, and do it to the tune of $17,000 a day (according to Wahlberg himself).

Part of the reason they can put up these phenomenal numbers is that these are not McDonald’s dollar menu burgers. Side orders like crisp sweet potato tots (which a member of our brigade almost forgot to order and went flying back in a frenzy to get) begin at $3, and the aforementioned behemoth BBQ Bacon burger is $7.95. The taste is worth its price, and Vanzura explains why: “This is not just another celebrity-driven restaurant. Paul is an exceptional chef, and his commitment to quality shows up in the restaurant every day.”

So even though I think his accent is overblown and slightly fake, that Ted can only possibly be funny the first time you see it, and that the SNL parody of him is more entertaining than the real man, Wahlberg (and credit is due to his family as a whole) makes up for all of his shortcomings with such an amazing and unexpected side trip on a Wednesday night.


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