By Bob Barnes & Ben Brown

Photos courtesy Slater’s 50/50

Slater’s 50/50 rose to fame with its delectable half beef, half bacon patties, then spread across California and neighboring states with a tried and true mantra of burgers, bacon and beer…extra emphasis on the bacon. Now, in an effort to appeal to more of the masses, Slater’s is branching slowly and methodically out of its core menu offerings. New entrees and seasonal menus reach a broad spectrum of palates, with plenty of—dare we say—[more] healthful options. 

While some seasonal offerings may have changed since the time of this writing, expect a lot more green and a lot fewer carbs than you’re used to on a traditionally heavy menu. Bun-less burger bowls have made their debut, and will likely continue in some form or another. The ‘impossible’ vegetarian patty is also an option for any burger on the menu. Slater’s is also putting solid emphasis on ahi tuna in appetizers and salads.

Those still seeking decadence should fear not. Slater’s is still going full throttle with unreal burgers, some of the best milkshakes out there and more bacon than you know what to do with. Hard to argue with the lone star smoke burger, complete with bbq sauce, garlic aioli and thick onion rings stacked high, or the sriracha burger, which uses enough of its namesake ingredient to make that happy birthday shake all the more necessary. 

Not all of Slater’s menu additions are healthful, showing that the franchise is staying true to its core audience that favors all things bacon. Nothing showcases this more than the bacon chocolate lava cake, finished with a large strip of bacon drizzled in chocolate and caramel. Just pretend that ordering a burger bowl will cancel it out and you’ll leave guilt-free.

The Slater’s 50/50 brand has been rapidly expanding in recent years and its locations now number 11 and can be found across Southern California, Nevada, Texas and Hawaii. We recently visited the Pasadena location, situated in Old Town in a historic building. The décor is in keeping with the older buildings of the area, with red brick walls, a high industrial ceiling, hard wood floor and large windows looking out onto the street. The eatery is designed to welcome everyone, young and old, and to make them want to stay a while, with TVs throughout tuned to sports programming, a foosball game, a claw grabber filled with stuffed toys for the kids and old school video games such as Ms. Packman. 

Another main element to the design scheme are an array of a hundred or so tap handles, lest you forget one of the main things Slater’s is known for. Its taps pour 66 beers, with the majority being local SoCal beers, and having the option to choose beer flights of four beers allows one to experience more varieties without committing to a full pour of only one.

A big plus for this location is its general manager, Jordan Scott. After spending any amount of time with him you will see his passion for the brand he has adopted as his own. After starting as a busser at the Huntington Beach location he has worked his way up through the ranks. Reflecting on the new expanded menu he said, “We don’t want people who don’t like burgers to be left out and now we have something for everyone. We also listened to our customer comments and added some extras, such as all burgers now including fries and shakes having more of a wow factor.” The shakes are indeed wow-inducing, and are now topped with items such as Twinkies, cupcake or various candies. Jordan also related that one of their most beloved menu items (which is not new) is the Slater’s Vampire Dip—roasted garlic and artichoke hearts blended with creamy melted cheese, served in a sourdough bread bowl with crispy pita and veggies for dipping.

Some of the new items we especially enjoyed were the sweet & spicy cauliflower tossed with Asian BBQ sauce, which was so delicious I wouldn’t have known or cared that it was a vegan option; ahi tuna poke nachos with sushi-grade ahi, toasted sesame seeds, pickled jalapeños, chipotle crema and chile-lime hominy piled high on crispy corn chips; and the southern fried chicken cobb salad with buttermilk fried chicken, grape tomatoes, avocado, egg and smoked bacon, of which we found the chicken so good we are recommending it be offered as a chicken finger or entree menu offering.

The company obviously has a sense of humor, as on April 1 it sent out press releases and notices on its website announcing it had gone 100% vegan and would no longer be serving beef or bacon. While it was a well-executed April Fool’s joke, the truth is the expanded menu now does have many options for everyone’s tastes, dietary restrictions or choices. If you haven’t been to a Slater’s in a while, it’s time you explored the new menu for yourself.

For a location nearest you, more information, or to view the full menu visit www.slaters5050.com.