The local burger wars are getting hotter than a mid-July afternoon. First came news that Shula Burger will be opening next year in the sprawling Delray Marketplace complex. Then word hit that next year too a branch of Danny Meyer’s much-beloved Shake Shack will debut in Boca’s University Commons shopping center.

Getting a jump on both of them, though, is Smashburger. The Denver-based chain of fast-casual burger joints is expected to debut its first Palm Beach County location at 1729 S. Federal Hwy. on Saturday, Dec. 29. With almost 200 locations across the country, that makes it a pretty big player in the semi-upscale meat patty business.

Smashburger’s gimmick is, well. . . smashing your burger. It starts, like most of its competitors, with never-frozen, 100-percent Angus beef, but instead of a pre-formed patty it’s a meatball that’s placed on a buttered grill, seasoned with a proprietor blend and then smashed with a metal plate invented specifically for that purpose. Whether that makes a noticeable different, I couldn’t say, never having had a Smashburger. But I think we’ll have to do a taste-off between these three newbies when the other two finally open.

As for other stuff on Smashburger’s menu, which is jiggered to fit regional tastes, there’s a half-dozen or so specialty burgers, plus a basic burger, which can be customized with a variety of toppings and, like all of them, had in regular, large and double-patty portions. Prices range from $5 to $7, though it can go up depending on how elaborate your choice of garnishes. There’s also several types of fries, salads, veggie and chicken sammies, and shakes.