Leave your calorie counter at home…
By Christopher Malone
LODED on Thompson Road in Syracuse, if personified, would be one of those people who know how to make a grand entrance. It wouldn’t be as farcical as Kramer, yet it would seriously not take itself seriously.
Some places need a visual rather than an introductory paragraph. You know, like a trailer or a scrolling narrative similar to what the Star Wars franchise pulls off. Yet, dash in that comedic take — so… Spaceballs.
LODED, which is appropriately stylized in all capital letters, is one of those places. After all, it’s tucked in the back of a car maintenance paradise: near a tire place, an oil changing business and a car wash.
(Cue the meta humor of Monty Python: “Get on with it!)
OK. [Clears throat.] Here we go: From the people who brought you Rise N Shine Diner comes a familiar dining experience which seems like none other. As soon as you step through the door, you’re instantly transported back to the early 1990s.
LODED is loaded with bright colors, patterns, neon lights, a mural featuring iconic musicians and flamingos.
Not only does LODED bring you back in time to what seems like better days, menu verbiage like “sawwce,” “sammich” and “nuggies” will have you asking yourself: “Am I right, am I wrong?”
The fast-food setup has you ordering and picking up the food from the counter in designated areas a few feet apart.
Ordering is simple, but can be a slightly confusing. Like a new board game, you get the hang of it after one round through. You order a base — burger, fries, poutine, hot dog, macaroni and cheese or chicken. Then you have it stylized or keep it as is.
LODED is located in the original location of Rise N Shine, which has a go-big-or-go-home way of doing things. The photos on each place’s social media accounts are proof.
To kick off the experience, I ordered a vegan Southwest BBQ smash ($16). The plant-based burgers were topped with sweet potato waffle fries and frizzled onions, lettuce, tomato, smoky BBQ sauce and vegan cheddar. The burger was enjoyable. The plant-based “meat” had a similar consistency to the real thing. It also boasted a nice spicy kick.
The ingredients are typically served between a gluten-free roll, but those were still frozen. I opted for the regular roll because gluten doesn’t negatively faze me. Another option is to get the burger, hot dog or chicken sandwich between lettuce.
The downside: You only get the burger. Typically, burgers come with fries or chips, but this isn’t the case at LODED, because the side is a base item or an a la carte option you can order as-is.
The BULL-GO-GI mac and cheese (small portion, $7) was another spicy and satisfying option. Bulgogi, which “fire meat” in Korean, is a clue into what will be experienced. The dish of seasoned pork belly, frizzled onions, and Korean barbecue sauce doesn’t hold back with the heat or
The small option, considering all the ingredients, is definitely enough for three people. As filing as the bowl of adult mac is, it’s something there’s never enough of.
The Nashville hot n dilly dilly chicken sandwich ($11) continues the spicy theme of the dining experience. The lightly fried, deep red slices of chicken breast are smothered in the yellow dilly dilly sauce consisting of dill, sour cream, mustard and a hint of lemon.
The portion of chicken barely fits between the halves of the roll and the meat was perfectly cooked. It’s an excellent chicken sammich. Similar to the vegan burger, it came solo.
To satisfy my sweet tooth, cue the cosmic brownie milkshake ($9.50). The vanilla milkshake with light chocolate syrup is topped with whipped cream, little candy-coated dots of chocolate and brownie.
I thought the brownie would be in the form of chunks, but it was a whole Little Debbie signature “Cosmic Brownie” broken into two slabs sitting at the bottom of cup. Whether chunks or slabs, the brownie would have proven difficult to slurp up in a straw.
The milkshake, in my opinion, was less than stellar. There was less milkshake and more everything else. The whip cream was plentiful, the brownie took up a lot of room and the bottom was filled with settled candies. LODED or Rise, both seem to boast over-the-top and overflowing milkshakes. This barely came over the lip of the cup.
The brownie, in my personal opinion, should also be homemade, not a rock-hard, frozen treat from a box. But, yes, it’s for the namesake.
With tip, the bill came to $57 and change.
Aside from the milkshake’s falling short and the solo sandwich price points, there were not many downsides. Unfortunately, a sign read LODED was no longer serving hot dogs or poutine the day I was there. I am unsure whether this is a permanent or temporary menu change.
LODED followed through with the go-big attitude and flavor. Aside from the boxed brownie, bland is nowhere near the fun-forward restaurant. And kudos to the staff for keeping the busy afternoon moving. It’s obvious why the place is popular.
6393 Thompson Road
Syracuse, NY 13206
Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.