Chic and Family Friendly, Heyday Is a Better Burger Joint

This stylish spot in Mount Baker serves gourmet fare—plus classic and inventive sides.

Sleepy Mount Baker isn’t known for its proliferation of restaurants, which makes the addition of Heyday Burgers + Bar all the more noteworthy. Despite a chic, mod-ish interior with a colorful abstract painting on concrete, a turquoise- and yellow-tiled bar, clever cutouts in the wood walls, and beautiful hanging lights constructed from etched cardboard, the restaurant is actually quite family-friendly—not so surprising given that it’s co-owned by Gary Snyder of Geraldine’s Counter in Columbia City. That means crayons, a kids’ menu, and plenty of booster seats abound during the day, though the spacious bar area can clearly become a late-night hot spot as well.

The menu here, crafted by Melissa Nyffeler of Capitol Hill’s late, beloved Dinette, focuses on hand-crafted burgers, of which there are nine—hardly any of them classic. Instead they include a lamb burger, a Saigon burger, a jerk-chicken burger, a vegetarian burger, and a Mexican verde burger, all served on Macrina potato rolls that perfectly fit these fist-sized portions of meat and hold up to the decadent sauces on most. If you like your burgers with little fuss, this probably isn’t the place for you.

I tried the Bison Burger, which, while cooked a little over medium rare as requested, was juicy thanks to the addition of Beecher’s Sharp White Cheddar cheese, mustard-seed sauce, and just a touch of maple syrup. The grilled apple, radicchio, and red onion, unfortunately, were a little lost in the mix, but the sweet/salty profile was perfect, and I loved the smack of the mustard seed. The Saigon burger was an unexpected treat, its patty made from beef, pork, and shrimp. The texture is similar to that of a turkey burger, and the taste reminded me a little of the inside of a pork and shrimp dumpling you’d find at dim sum. Like a banh mi, it comes bundled with Napa cabbage, carrots, pickled daikon, mint, and cilantro, and is dressed with a slightly spicy Sriracha aioli.

All the burgers here can be upgraded with add-ons like fontina, Tillamook pepper jack, Beecher’s, bacon, a fried egg, tomato, or avocado, though they already have so much going on that it’s hard to imagine needing more. (And each comes with a small dish of pickled veggies). What you will need, though, is a side of fries—hand-cut, twice-fried, they have the requisite crunch and come with a malt-vinegar aioli. There are also onion rings with lemon zest and tater tots.

Besides burgers and fries, I love that Heyday has plenty of veggie dishes, including blackened cauliflower served with roasted red peppers, onions, romesco, and fried almonds, as well as warm Brussels sprouts and a couple of salads. I was delighted to find deviled eggs too; four of them come with a creamy whipped interior heavy on mustard and horseradish and topped with some Fresno chiles and pickled red onion. My daughter chowed down on their crispy chicken wings of the Vietnamese persuasion; though not jumbo, they are meaty, the skin fried to a deep amber and coated with a classic nuoc cham fish sauce to which a drizzle of honey brings a slight sweetness. The Fresno chiles, scallions, and cilantro enliven them further, and contribute to a leftover pool of sauce that you’ll be hard-pressed not to lick up with your fingers.

Dessert was a hard call. If we hadn’t gone at the unfashionable hour of 4 p.m. on a Sunday, I may have tried one of their two boozy milkshakes, like the one with rum, blackberry liqueur, vodka, and vanilla ice cream. And while their ice creams and sundaes sounded delish, the warm strawberry-rhubarb pie a la mode (which changes daily) beckoned on a chilly, stormy day—and delivered. The real fruit filling leaked out the sides of a golden crust that was almost croissant-like with its flaky, yielding layers.

If you live in the neighborhood, this will surely become one of your regular spots. If not, it’s well worth the trip.

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