Normally, we wait. We give new restaurants a solid couple of months to get their feet on the ground and work out the inevitable kinks that accompany a new venture.

But we Lamorindans have waited a long time for a truly great burger place -- a place chic enough for date night but casual enough for post-soccer practice. One that satisfies our organic, sustainable locavore leanings without being pretentious. Also, one that serves booze -- craft beer, good wine and house-made sodas in flavors like blood orange and Meyer lemon.

So when San Francisco's Roam Artisan Burgers opened an outpost in Lafayette the week before Christmas, it was like Santa had arrived early. The line stretched out the door -- and we were there, figuring that if there were opening-week kinks, we'd come back for review purposes. Right at that moment, there was a burger -- a Sunny Side Burger with a Fry-fecta of Fries -- waiting for us.

But there was no need to go back for review purposes. The restaurant runs as seamlessly as any place could, when you've got a line of extremely hungry, eager people on the sidewalk. Heavens, it's delicious. And no, we are not ruining it for you by telling the world, because we're also going to tell you how to get in, sans line.

Josh Spiegelman and Lynn Gorfinkle opened their first Roam on San Francisco's Union Street in 2010 with a pasture-to-plate philosophy. The meat -- beef, turkey, bison, elk -- is all grass-fed or free range. The vegetables are organic and local. The shakes are Straus Family Creamery, flavored with Blue Bottle coffee and Dagoba chocolate. Yeah, it's a foodie's dream. Not everything is perfect, of course, but it's close enough that we've returned an embarrassing number of times, considering the place has been open less than a month.

Lit with trendy Edison light bulbs, Roam offers a rustic-chic vibe. You order at the counter -- choosing the type of meat (or veggie patty), the style of burger and whatever sides, salads and drinks capture your heart -- and they bring your dinner and drinks to you. Don't let your fervor for burgers get in the way of ordering veggies. The first night we went, we had an amazing butternut squash and dinosaur kale dish with pesto ($5.49) and a side salad ($4.50) that mixed watermelon radishes and other colorful tidbits in with the greens. We also had burgers. Many burgers.

The Classic ($6.50) is exactly what it sounds like, but the French and Fries ($8.50, as are all the other burger styles) tucks truffle-Parmesan fries inside the bun, along with melty Gruyere, avocado, caramelized onions, watercress and a generous dollop of Dijon. It's juicy, drippy and tres bon. The Tejano gets zesty with pepper Jack, jalapeño relish, avocado, crispy chips -- inside the bun -- and an herb ranch dressing.

There's a Pacific Blue (blue cheese, steak sauce, caramelized onions), a Heritage (applewood smoked bacon, fontina), a BBQ (white cheddar, barbecue sauce, jalapeño relish and slaw) and -- my personal fave -- the Sunny Side, which comes with an organic free-range egg, white cheddar, caramelized onions, greens and a sweet chile sauce.

The burgers are great, but they are triple-napkin affairs, and if you don't eat them with a certain alacrity, those last bites get really soggy.

Don't dither over fries choices. Get the Fry-fecta ($5.99), which includes them all -- russet, sweet potato and wispy zucchini onion haystack fries -- then add a dusting of truffle Parmesan, fresh herbs or chipotle-maple seasoning (75 cents). I prefer more heat in my chipotle-dusted anything, but this is a place that caters to families, so the spice factor is mild.

The place is a win, but be prepared to wait -- and don't cheat and try to grab a table before you've ordered. This is not In-N-Out. By the time you have ordered and your food is nearly ready, a table will be, too. But if you want to avoid the lines altogether, just remember this: The place is hopping with families before 6, then it starts hopping with couples and happy groups of friends, but Lamorinda rolls up its sidewalks at 7:30. Roam is open until 10.

You're welcome.

Roam Artisan Burgers
***
WHERE: 23 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette
CONTACT: 925-385-0798, roamburgers.com
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
CUISINE: American
PRICES: $
VEGETARIAN: Several options, including house-made organic veggie burgers ($6.50 to $8.50), seasonal veggies and salads.
BEVERAGES: Wine, craft beer, house-made and craft sodas, and Straus Family Creamery milk shakes
RESERVATIONS: No
NOISE LEVEL: Loud
PARKING: Parking lot
KIDS: The children's menu includes kids burger ($7.50) and grilled cheese ($6.25) combos that include fries and a drink.
PLUSES: Grass-fed beef burgers with wonderful, organic toppings, great fries and killer shakes add up to exactly the kind of restaurant Lafayette needed.
MINUSES: Be prepared to wait in line.
DATE OPENED: December
Policy
We don't let restaurants know that we are coming in to do a review, and we strive to remain anonymous. We pay for our meal, just as you would.
Ratings
Restaurants are rated on a scale of one to four, with four representing a truly extraordinary experience for that type of restaurant.
Price code
$ Most entrees under $10
$$ Most entrees under $20
$$$ Most entrees under $30
$$$$ Most entrees under $40