By Hilary Langford | Photos by Wes Watson
Imagine a greasy burger in all of its grilled glory slapped between a glazed donut. Let that sink in for a bit; just like it will sink into your belly.
I was skeptical and felt my stomach turn a little when I heard about Luther
Burger’s belt-busting beast, rumored to be the improvised creation of late soul singer Luther Vandross, the happy result of running out of buns.
It wasn’t until I heard the good folks behind Sugar Shack had a hand in it that I started feeling optimistic. Vandross once sang, “Never too much,” so I went with that advice and gave the dish a try.
Situated off Huguenot Road on Richmond’s Southside, Luther Burger is an unassuming little joint that feels like something you’d see off a local beach road. It’d be easy to miss if it weren’t sitting next to its sister establishment, Sugar Shack, with its recognizable blaze orange logo acting as a beacon for doughnut lovers.
Luther’s tagline is “donuts. burgers. brew.” and it sticks with it, give or take a few variations of staple items. Owner Ian Kelley says this is by design.
“The guy that helped conceptualize this place, James Henderson, and I have worked in lots of restaurants with huge menus. It requires a large staff, lots of prep hours, and you can only do so much well,” Kelley says. “So we chose to just focus on a couple things, really well.
So far we think it’s working, and it’s a relief to not have to worry about too much variety.”
When I arrived, chipper staffers greeted me at the counter and immediately pointed me toward the posted eats, beer, and shake menus. The place is entirely no frills in the best way.
Picking a beer was the toughest part. Luther’s has about 50 to choose from, with four rotating taps and a bevy of bottles and cans, many of which are Virginia beers. You can also snag wine, cider or something nonboozy.
The challenge was selecting the right drink to compliment this gluttonous, salty-sweet concoction I was about to eat. I went with Strangeways’ Wake Me Up Before You Gose, a low-alcohol-by-volume, crisp sour that never disappoints – especially when facing potential meat sweats.
Beer snobs beware: your drink is coming to you in a plastic cup. You also have to keep any alcoholic beverages on the Luther’s side of the house, which means patio seating for the imbibers.
Still, the vibe is uber chill outside with large fans whirring overhead and plenty of picnic tables to be had, making this place especially good for families with kids.
The Luther burger landed on my table with a mountain of golden, waffle fries. I avoided it for a minute, nibbling on the delectable, less menacing potato treats doused in slightly sweet and smoky carne asada salt (you can pick from several).
After a pep talk, I sank my face into quite possibly the strangest, most surprisingly delicious sandwich I’ve tasted in a while. For starters, the doughnuts aren’t as cumbersome as you imagine. Rather they seem to act as squishy, semi-sweet pillows that soak up all the flavor of the burger,
and flatten just enough to make eating it less awkward.
Slathered with a tangy house sauce, the patty itself also isn’t a monster, and that’s a good thing. Though, the brave can opt for a second patty (and the cowards can go with regular buns).
It’s worth noting that a standout of Luther Burger’s menu is incredibly accommodating, offering vegan and gluten-free options, as well as crab and turkey burgers.
It turns out the Luther burger goes down quick and actually leaves room for dessert. So enjoy a shake while you’re there. The restaurant has traditional and vegan options, and plays with all sorts of flavors, ranging from classics like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry to birthday cake, green tea, and chai.
I went with the Samoa. Just like the Girl Scout cookie you adore, the flavor is rich and a perfect balance of chocolate and coconut. Did I mention
the straw was as fat as a cigar so you could consume it the right way? Yep, that’s a thing. With a final slurp, I threw in the paper towel and
reminded myself … do-nut knock it till you’ve tried it.
Where: 1931 Huguenot Road, Chesterfield, VA. 23235
When: Monday – Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
More info: (804) 447-2664