Healthy Burgers without Sacrificing Taste

With people being more conscious about their health these days, you can’t help but notice fast food restaurants advertise healthier options to keep from losing sales. But what if you don’t want those “other” options that taste like a cardboard sandwich? What if you want to sink your teeth into a tasty burger? Look no further than Cheeseburgers Charley’s.

Cheeseburger Charley’s is a local set of restaurants found in Nashville and surrounding cities in Tennessee. I’ve never heard of the restaurant outside of the Tennessee area and even a Google search only shows locations dotted in and around Nashville. The homepage that was linked on several directory websites is now invalid, so I’m assuming that these restaurants are independently franchised and their store owners are responsible for their own marketing.
The one that I went to in Murfreesboro is tucked away in a small shopping center located next to the Wal-Mart Supercenter. You’d never know it was there unless you actively read the signs on the street. The restaurant itself is very clean and wide-open with table and booth seating. Crimson painted walls are adorned with posters of Cheeseburger Charley’s dressed up sandwich offerings. When Mike and I walked in the door, the cashier was sitting at a table watching TV. When we finally got our meal, there were only 4 people there dining (including Mike and myself), which made it seem like an unpopular dining spot.

Cheeseburger Charley’s takes pride in serving not only certified Angus beef burgers but other types of sandwiches that are “good for you” (their slogan). Such sandwiches are a low calorie veggie burger made of rice and oats, a grilled Alaskan salmon burger high in omega-3s, a low cholesterol “Beefalo” burger made of naturally grain-fed bison, a lower fat all-white meat turkey breast, a high fiber black bean burger, and a high protein marinated grilled chicken breast. With all these offerings, you can be sure to find a meaty sandwich that fits your dietary plan. After selecting your meat, you select a wheat or white bun, then your cheese (American, Swiss, cheddar, blue cheese, provolone), and then a premium topping (Bacon, sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions). Finally, you can make it a combo by adding a regular side item (French fries, onion rings, potato chips, small salad, and fruit cup) and drink for $3.00. In addition to that, you can get shakes, malts, or even a hot dog.

Aside from the cheese and premium toppings I mentioned, the sandwich comes very naked. The purpose of Cheeseburger Charley’s is to let you dress up your burger how you want it with any of their 17 toppings from their burger bar. Every vegetable topping you can imagine is on that bar: lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, red onion rings, chopped onion, black olives, mushrooms, etc. In this sense, it enhances their vision of allowing you to create a “better” and “healthier” burger that is more than likely healthier for you than any other fast food sandwich out there.
I got the Beefalo burger (cooked medium) with American cheese and instead of fries, I got a side salad. I assumed the salad would come premade, but the employee just handed me an empty plate with my choice of dressing and told me I could make my own from the burger bar. While the burger bar was no Jason’s Deli, the vegetables looked nearly as fresh but it was weird eating humongous leaves of lettuce (for placing on a burger) compared to the smaller bite-sized pieces I was used to.

The Beefalo burger was abundantly seasoned with salt and pepper. The taste and texture was nearly identical to beef yet I noticed that it wasn’t as juicy as beef burgers (obviously because bison has considerably less fat and can dry out easily). Nevertheless, the burger was indeed one of the better burgers I’ve had. For those interested, here are the nutrition facts on bison meat and why it’s considered better for you despite the pricing of exotic meat.

Bison Nutrition

Bison Nutrition from The National Bison Association

Almost every aspect of my visit at Cheeseburger Charley’s was great: delicious food, amazing service (the employees offered to take your empty trays), and clean dining area. My only problem was the pricing. Cheeseburger Charley’s isn’t cheap, especially if you get the Beefalo ($5.99) with cheese (75 cents extra). With a salad (instead of fries) and drink, I thought it would end up being around $8… but I guess a side salad doesn’t count towards a combo. My total bill was $11 including the 15% off discount card I had obtained from a local high school fundraiser… making the original ticket price $13! You could easily go to any restaurant, even a table service restaurant for the same price. Even Five Guys, who won the Zagat Survey of Best Burger for 2010, is cheaper than that.

My guess on the expense is that you’re paying for the fact that you’re trying to eat healthy. That’s one thing I don’t get about this health craze. Why does everyone’s wallet have to be punished by wanting healthier foods? Bison, which is healthier, costs about $2-$3 more per pound. Organic vegetables, which are supposed to be healthier, have a considerable mark-up. Nevertheless, Cheeseburger Charley’s is worth a visit simply because they offer healthy fast food that doesn’t taste like you’re eating paper-mâché.

Cheeseburger Charley’s
206 North Thompson Lane
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
(615) 890-8883

Bill Total: $11

Cheeseburger Charley's on Urbanspoon

Food:4.0/5.0 ★★★★☆ 
Service:3.5/5.0 ★★★½☆ 
Atmosphere:3.0/5.0 ★★★☆☆ 
Price:1.5/5.0 ★½☆☆☆ 
Overall:3.0/5.0 ★★★☆☆ 

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