California’s Umami Burger makes its South Beach debut

The Goods: California’s cult burger sensation Umami Burger makes its Florida debut on South Beach.

The Ambience: Umami Burger’s 16th outpost features blood-red booths, a black-and-white tiled wall and stained wood floors.

The Backstory: This is the first Umami Burger on the East Coast, but its location here is somewhat of an accident. The story goes that Umami Burger owners were in town last November for the opening of the SLS South Beach and happened upon the shuttered 8 Oz. space on Alton Road. There were no plans to expand to Miami but the opportunity seemed too enticing. Phone calls were made, deals were signed and a quick facelift later, the burger emporium now calls South Beach home.

The Grub: Innovative burgers and fries emphasizing the “fifth taste.” Prices are typical for a gourmet-burger joint: Patties average $11 and sides are $4-$6.

There are 11 burgers to choose from, including the namesake Umami Burger (shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, Parmesan crisp and house-made ketchup), the Truffle Burger (house-made truffle cheese and glaze) and the vegetarian Earth Burger (mushroom and edamame patty with lettuce, ricotta, onions, roasted tomato and white soy aioli).

Burgers are served bun-less or on signature U-shaped buns and can be paired with thin, sweet-potato or smushed double-fried fries.  Substitutions are discouraged, and “secret” menu items include the Turkey BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado) and Cheddar tater tots.

The Verdict: A West Coast burger joint brings its uniquely flavored patties to South Beach.