Note: Roger Magnusson emailed us last month asking us to put Sweden on our burger map. (Note to self: visit Sweden.) He offered to help with this endeavor by sharing his thoughts about Max, Sweden's most popular burger chain.
71 locations throughout Sweden; +46 920-884 85; max.se
Short Order: Sweden's original burger chain is better than the rest. Get the Max Supreme or Max Original.
Price: €6-7 or 60-70 SEK for a combo meal
Notes: For all the nerds out there they have free coffee and Wi-Fi in all restaurants.
When I was in high school I worked at the first McDonald's ever in Stockholm. It was there that my interests for hamburgers really started. But here and now I'm going to introduce you to Max, the all-Swedish hamburger chain.
Max was founded by Curt Bergfors and his girlfriend in 1968—back then it called "X grillen" in Gällivare, in the cold north. In 1971 they moved to Luleå and renamed it Max after the founder's nickname. In 1994, Max started their trip to the southern parts of Sweden. The first one in Stockholm opened right next to IKEA's new store in Barkarby. In the greater Stockholm area there are now seven restaurants, including one at Arlanda airport*. In total they have 71 restaurants all over Sweden, from Umeå in the north to Ystad in the south.
What's so special about their burgers, you might ask? Well, I would say it's their selection of sauces and that they make their hamburgers to order. In their adverts they also claim to only have Swedish meat in the burgers.
The Max menu contains of all the normal traditional burger chains stuff. They have one burger, named Big, that could be stolen from McDonald's. It looks just like McDonald's Big Mac, but it has no pickles. But the best one at Max is Supreme containing a 150-gram patty, two slices of cheese, tomato, lettuce, mayonnaise, and to top it all off, two big slices of hickory smoked bacon.
Other items on the menu are onion rings, fries, fish burgers, chicken, salads, ice cream, and apple pie. They also have 14 kinds of dips/sauces, one of the most popular being melted hot cheddar. They offer special burgers, such as the GI (glucose index) Burger, also called the "slow burger," made with a new a new kind of bun baked with seeds and other healthy stuff in it. There's also a Delifresh burger that's low fat with no buns—just lettuce instead of buns. Their Nacho Burger is an ordinary 90-gram burger topped with taco sauce and nacho chips.
Max clearly succeeds in meeting the expectations of Sweden's burger eaters, and the quality of service is excellent. In most parts of the country it's even more popular then the big American chains. In 2007 Max was voted to be the best fast food restaurant chain in all of Sweden.
Can I report something bad about Max, then? Their fries are sometimes a bit undercooked and you have ask them for a new fresh bag. The interior design has a weird feel to it—it looks like a kitchen would look in the late '70s or early '80s.
* The best Max in Stockholm is right next to Centralen on Vasagatan. The guests there are mostly Swedish, but there are also tourists from the nearby hotels. Guess where the most of them come from—the USA. And I think they like it!