September 16, 2022 | OPINION | By Sam Treat | Photos by author
The Green Line Grill’s exterior is not for the faint of heart. For many, the man fixing his rusted old pickup truck in the parking lot would be a deterrent to dining. The smashed-in bulletproof glass on the back door would send others packing. Some may be alarmed by the lack of any other businesses in the immediate area, with only a desolate-looking Habitat for Humanity warehouse and a brutish concrete structure with no apparent use in sight.
The redeeming beacon for the foodie in search of a hole in the wall is the sign reading “Burger Week Champion.” What is Burger Week? I have no idea. Does it really exist? No clue. Did it lure me into the restaurant? Absolutely.
The interior of the Green Line Grill could have looked the exact same 50 years ago, except for the iPad and sign advertising Apple Pay. The checkerboard floor and red and white countertops are always a sign that good food is to come. Even the man behind the counter, who greeted me with a hearty “How ya doin,” could have been from the 50s or 60s. The menu, a classic Coca-Cola letter-board, advertised reasonable prices.
Make no mistake, this is not a place to bring your Whole Foods-loving friend visiting from Seattle or San Francisco, or wherever else they make sure the cows they eat lead a fulfilled life. This is a place for the true burger lover. For instance, one of the more popular signature burgers, the Otis ($9.50) is a veggie patty on top of a normal beef patty. Why this exists is a question I have yet to find the answer to, even after eating the Otis myself. However, let the Otis be a warning to those looking for substitutes and health food options—this is not your place.
Many would compare Green Line to higher quality burger chains, Five Guys in particular, but Green Line separates itself from the pack through its unique preparation. Green Line serves onion burgers, which enhances flavor and ups the mouth-watering factor. For those uneducated about onion burgers (which I am told originate in Oklahoma, so no wonder nobody knows about them), an onion burger involves smashing the beef patty with onion and frying it all together.
A handwritten sign adorning the cash register reads, “Please tell us about any garlic or onion allergies.” Garlic and onion, known for the ability to up the flavor of just about any recipe, do not fail to do just that in these burgers.
In addition to the aforementioned Otis, I ordered the weekly special as well. This week’s special was a classic onion burger adorned with a fried SPAM cutlet, mango salsa, and pepperjack cheese. To say that the special was flavor-filled would be an understatement, although I did come to the conclusion that SPAM belongs more in musubi than it does on burgers.
Overall, however, I left impressed. Too often we find mushy buns and falling-apart patties in the world of today’s burgers. Not at Green Line. Each bun came toasted to perfection, leading to a highly grip-able meal —a trait too often ignored by ‘Big Burger.’ To test the cohesiveness of said burger, a dining ally of mine ate from both ends (a cardinal sin, I know), finding that even when attacked from front and back, the burger stayed strong. Sampling a variety of burgers, from the classic cheeseburger, to the bacon bleu deluxe, all proved to be of the same flavor-bursting quality, and well-constructed from bun to bun.
While the burgers were well-cooked, flavorful, and stayed together well, the crowning achievement of Green Line Grill is the fries. Hand cut, cooked to a perfect golden color, and seasoned with onion salt, these fries rank among some of the best I have ever had. For $2.50 more, your burger (which range in price from $5.75 to $9.50) will have the perfect accompaniment. Make sure you order water or soda with the fries though, as the onion salt has a special way of dehydrating your mouth.
The Green Line Grill truly earns the name ‘hole in the wall;’ from the somewhat sketchy, quintessentially Colorado Springs location, to the old-school menu and décor, Green Line is a hidden gem. For those looking for something posh, upscale, or healthy, steer clear. However, if you do stumble upon Green Line, you shouldn’t judge this book by its cover––you will be pleasantly surprised by what you find inside.