POPSUGAR Food

Our 7 Favorite Burgers at Burger Bash

Feb 23 2013 - 1:05am

How do you pick a favorite older brother? That's kind of how it feels to choose a winning burger between the likes of Morimoto, Bobby Flay [1], and Michael Symon at Burger Bash. As Rachael Ray promised [2], this year's event had the most competing patties of any Burger Bash — 34, to be exact — and festivalgoers were obliged to make a Sophie's choice of sorts to pick the winner.

We didn't get around to trying all 30-plus burgers, so we can't confidently say that one was best. Attendees seemed to have a favorite — Bobby Flay took home the People's Choice Award [3] and Jeff Mauro the Judges' Choice Award [4] — but we did select seven burgers to showcase as our favorites of the night. Read on to get inspired — and hungry.

B Spot Burgers

The burger: French Onion Burger — caramelized onion, crispy onion, bacon, gruyère and horseradish cheese sauce, shasha and mustard sauce.
Served with: Sweet and sour pickles.

How it stacked up: More than anything, we fell hard for the plump sweet and sour pickles, which unlike many of their pickled brethren were neither too sweet nor too sour, and were a nice foil for the decadent cheese-sauce-laden burger. The burger itself was spicy, creamy, and well executed, though it posed some problems in its consumption. We overcame the messy feat by keeping ample napkins at the ready.

Burger & Barrel

The burger: B&B Bash Burger — caramelized onion and bacon jam, shaved pickles, American cheese, secret sauce on a toasted sesame seed bun.
Served with: Rosemary garlic parmesan tater tots.

How it stacked up: Perfect in an elemental way, this burger was hardly revolutionary, but it was a strong example of a classic Americana staple done right.

Guy's Burger Joint

The burger: Guy's Pressed Chili Cheeseburger — ground beef, all-beef chili, cheddar cheese, thin-sliced dill pickles, bacon, donkey sauce, crispy sourdough shell, and spicy Sriracha ranch and ketchup.
Served with: A watermelon jello shot.

How it stacked up: The crispy sourdough shell was interesting and a nice texture — conceptually it reminded us of a beef-and-chili-filled Smucker's Uncrustables on steroids, but thinner and crunchier. All of the components were well balanced (though there was a lot going on), but while we enjoyed it quite a bit, we didn't feel that it was worth the 30-minute-plus wait in line.

Landmarc

The burger: The Big Smoke Burger — all-beef patty, smoked aioli, pepper jack cheese, sweet pickles, and smoky slaw on a homemade jalapeño-sweet potato bun.
Served with: Spiced matchstick fries and chipotle ketchup.

How it stacked up: When we first bit into this subtly smoky stunner we knew it would be one of our top five favorites, even though we tried it early in the night. And while the burger was a tough act to follow, we were even more smitten with the well-browned matchstick fries and their subtly spicy tangy ketchup — it nearly even converted the ketchup-naysayer on our team. The fries were a hair soft, which we attributed to the inescapable Miami humidity, as this was a problem across the board when chip or fry sides were included.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

The burger: Korean Kalbi BBQ Burger — pickled cucumbers and cabbage on a Korean BBQ glazed beef patty served between a brioche bun.

How it stacked up: We almost skipped this offering from the winner of Red Robin's culinary scholarship program [5] to conserve space for those with a more prestigious pedigree, but we were thrilled to find it was worth a bite and then some. This sleeper hit was one of the farthest departures from a traditional burger in a fantastic way. It truly embodied kalbi, the Korean BBQ staple [6], with its sweet and tangy marinade and refreshingly tart pickles. It's safe to say we'll be stopping by Red Robin to try another once it hits their menu.

Shake Shack

The burger: Heritage HAMburger — hamburger with griddled heritage ham, American cheese, and pickled green tomatoes.
Served with: Banana bourbon caramel custard.

How it stacked up: Classic, simple, but exceptionally well done, this burger takes studied technique and marries it with high-quality but nonfussy ingredients for a platonically ideal burger. Additionally, the custard was one of the few things we ate in whole, despite being stuffed to the gills. Creamy, sweet, but not overpoweringly so, and with just a hint of bourbon to round out the caramelized banana, it was a perfect counterpoint to the salty burger.

The Butterfly

The burger: The White Label Burger — dry-aged beef, bacon marmalade, McClure's pickles, and white American cheese.
Served with: Cacio e pepe tater tots.

How it stacked up: This much-lauded beefy burger lived up to its praise, but it was the cheesy and piquant tater tots that were the real star, largely thanks to the perfect textural contrast between their crisp outer shell and tender innards.


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