As far as nationwide chains go, Denver-based Smashburger is on the smaller side, with fewer than 200 locations, including one in the Los Angeles area. But the company -- which is less than 5 years old -- was named by Forbes last year as the most promising company in America. The burgers start as cold meatballs, which are then smashed onto a buttered grill. The fast food comparisons mostly stop at the counter, where food is ordered. The chain has no drive-thrus and sends employees to deliver meals to tables along with beer and wine in frosted glasses. Menus are localized to reflect the surrounding region: The Thousand Oaks branch has a pan-Asian-inspired burger. Other options include a spinach and goat cheese burger, Caribbean salads, vegetarian entrees and Chicago dogs. An All-American burger goes for $4.99. Last year, Smashburger sales reached $115.7 million.
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