Acclaimed actor, Dorchester native, and former bad-boy rapper Mark Wahlberg founded Wahlburgers restaurant in 2011 with two of his nine siblings, teen idol Donnie Wahlberg, a member of the ’80s band New Kids on the Block, and Paul Wahlberg, now the chef at his family’s Hingham Italian restaurant, Alma Nove. With 27 Wahlburgers in the United States (the first in Hingham) and two in Canada, the burger chain will join competitors like Shake Shack and Five Guys when it jumps across the pond this coming spring. But it’s not going just anywhere in England.
The Wahlberg brothers have chosen to make their British debut in London’s West End theater district of Covent Garden, which until recently was fairly seedy but now harbors luxury hotels like One Aldwych, Tiffany and Apple stores, and cocktail bars like Champagne + Fromage.
“We created Wahlburgers in hopes of sharing some of our favorite foods and recipes that we grew up with,’’ says Paul Wahlberg, “like my Mom’s Sloppy Joe, my Dad’s fries — and to give people a comfortable, friendly place to enjoy great food with their friends and family. Of course, one of my favorite foods has always been burgers, so that’s a bonus for me!’’
In addition to single, double, and triple Angus beef burgers (composed of brisket, short rib, and chuck), the London menu will sport a turkey burger and the veggie-based Impossible Burger. Wahl Sauce (a spicy blend of mayo, ketchup, and caramelized onion) comes with most burgers, along with a variety of toppings, including Government cheese, the orange American-style processed cheese the Wahlberg clan grew up eating.
There will be sandwiches and hearty salads, too, like smoky bacon and arugula salad available plain or topped with chicken or fish. Unique to the London location will be batter-fried fish and chips, meat pies (a beloved British staple), and a fried chicken sandwich.
For kids, there are mini burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches, along with sides like Tater tots. Sweets range from frappes and floats to cupcakes and the Grilled Fluffanutta (sliced banana, peanut butter, marshmallow creme, and Nutella), while the drink menu features wine, beer, and cocktails, along with boozy dessert frappes.
The Covent Garden location has two levels with massive video screens throughout to “beam in’’ Wahlberg family members for live greetings or special wishes on occasions like birthdays.
If you can’t get enough of the Wahlbergs, watch “Wahlburgers,’’ an A&E reality show now in its ninth season offering a behind-the-scenes peek of the Wahlberg trio building their burger empire with guest appearances from their mother, Alma, other siblings, and Dorchester pals.