Soul Burger

28 Jan 2011
Cheap Eat (up to $7)
Southeast Huntsville
2 out of 5
Seating at Soul Burger

Melanie’s Take

For years, I drove by the old Soul Burger location on the corner of Triana and Bob Wallace and thought, “I’ve gotta try that place.” Then it went out of business and I felt like I had missed a true Huntsville experience. I read about how the owner was one of the most hospitable restaurant owners around and how she fed people in need on Thanksgiving. All of this added up to a must-visit when Soul Burger reopened in, of all places, the Huntsville Athletic Club. Shane and I were excited to sample their tasty burgers and downhome atmosphere. Unfortunately, we left having experienced neither.

The View at Soul Burger

Let’s face it: Soul Burger’s ambience has been lost by moving to the HAC. The counter/bar where you place your order and the dining area sit overlooking both the indoor tennis courts and the weight room (pic above is the view from our table). We felt a bit odd coming to scarf down an unhealthy meal as we hovered over others’ exercise activities. We were also struck with the lack of enthusiasm shown by the woman who took our order. She was not rude but did seem like she would rather be somewhere else. We placed our order with her at the counter and found a seat overlooking the tennis courts.

A Soul Burger

I ordered fries and the classic Soul Burger with ketchup, mustard, onions, and cheese (a variation on the usual toppings). It took quite a while for our food to arrive, which made me think that the same woman who took our order also made our food. There were no other employees in view, so it could have been a one-woman show. My burger and fries looked like they were going to be good, but the saltiness of both the burger and the fries overwhelmed the other flavors. I dipped my fries in the Soul Sauce, which was a nod to Zaxby’s Sauce, and it was yummy although too thin to hang onto my fries.  The burger was the fried variety, which I have no problem with, but it just didn’t taste any better than average. I really wanted to love Soul Burger, but I hate to admit that I can’t see myself returning.

Shane’s Take

I regretted not visiting Soul Burger when it was located next to China Taste (which, yes, we will eventually review, because there’s nothing like it in town). I was particularly bummed by my absence after reading about the kindness of the owner and her benevolence to the homeless over the years. Some people you just have to support, and the lady who runs Soul Burger seems like that kind of person. So, I was glad to hear about the reopening of Soul Burger at its novel location in the mezzanine of the Huntsville Athletic Club, and I looked forward to visiting. Unfortunately, my excitement with Soul Burger ended once our visit began. I thought the HAC location would be cool, but it really hurt the experience. For me, it started at the front door where hangs a sign that says “This is a Private Club” and, intentionally or not, shoos away non-members. It’s fine with me if HAC is a private club, but, well, you don’t have to shove it in my face. Despite the sign, we headed upstairs to Soul Burger, which—good for them—is proudly labeled “Open to the Public” on the sign outside. Once upstairs, we were greeted by an uninviting members-only feel and an equally uninviting eating area. The decor is mostly ugly and dated. The atmosphere is terrible. The novelty is nowhere to be found. Throughout our visit, sweaty old guys who’d been playing tennis frequented the area, drinking this or that beer or wine, eating popcorn, and cutting up. They were enjoying themselves, but I was really weirded out. Clearly, we weren’t members of the club, and nobody there—including the waiter—was interested in making us feel comfortable.

Inside Soul Burger

The food was somewhat better than the atmosphere. I ordered the Soul Burger with the standard toppings and a side of fries. The burger was fresh and had a nice flavor and texture, but it was too salty. Likewise, the fries were hot and fresh, but there was too much seasoned salt on them. I also enjoyed the Soul Sauce, but it too was awfully salty. On the whole, I liked the food—the burger really did taste pretty good—but it was too salty. Plus, the atmosphere was killing me, so I really struggled to enjoy the food. The service was not particularly good. The person who took orders and cooked the food and sorta waited tables seemed less than interested in us. She wasn’t hateful, but she seemed to be ready to go home. She just didn’t make us feel welcome. “Disappointed” and “uninviting” and “unimpressed” best describe my feelings about Soul Burger. I really expected it to be novel, but it wasn’t. Based on what I’d gathered from the press and such, I expected awesome service, which just wasn’t there. I also hoped the burger would be exceptional, but it wasn’t. I was really disappointed by the whole experience. Despite my hopes for Soul Burger, I just can’t endorse it. A Soul BurgerOther things to consider:

  • For Pete’s sake, Soul Burger is a greasy spoon restaurant flanked by a giant tennis court on one side and a weight room on the other. How in the world does it fail to be novel?
  • There is a lot of tennis talk and play going on at Soul Burger. If I were into the tennis scene, I could imagine enjoying it.
  • The self-serve beverage setup—a table with a cooler of ice, a couple plastic dispensers of tea and lemonade, and a pitcher of water—is painful. $2.04 a drink is too much for drinks served on that table.
Soul Burger on Urbanspoon

5 Responses

  1. Debbie Cagle

    Phil and I ate at the original Soul Burger because of all they hype we had heard about it. We were completely underwhelmed with the service, food and atmosphere (tight and smelly) at the original location. We had thought about trying it again (we had heard there was a new location, didn’t know where). Thanks for the heads up. Don’t think we’ll be going anytime soon!

  2. Chelsea Green

    This is so sad! I have always wanted to try Soul Burger. My boyfriend used to go there a lot when they were in the old location and loved it… but now that I think about it, he never really had much to say about the food, just the awesome people working there.

  3. Chelsea Green

    Also, if you haven’t already, you guys should try LIttle Paul’s. It’s near Huntsville Hospital. I’ve only been once, but my burger was pretty amazing.

  4. diningmissdaisy

    This is definitely upsetting, I was looking forward to bringing my boyfriend to Soul Burger (he is a burger fan, RAVES about Five Guys). Along with Chelsea I am going to suggest y’all try Lyn’s Gracious Goodness…if you like chicken salad, it is REALLY good here:-)

  5. Lara Baswell

    I love the burgers at Cheddars!

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