Another year of Burgerliscious has come and gone, and I certainly had no intention of missing out on this great event. If you’re just tuning in to the blog, Burgerliscious takes place in Ponce Circle Park in Coral Gables every November. Here, Coral Gables restaurants get a chance to compete and see which one of them makes the most delectable, finger-licking, lip smacking burger.
I welcome these events as a chance to put my usual picky eating aside and power through flavor combinations that challenge my palette. Sometimes, it works. Other times, I weep tears of anguish over what just went into my mouth. Who was memorable, and who should have stayed home? Let’s find out!
Okay, it’s disclaimer time! Keep in mind, folks, that taste is a purely subjective experience. I write these reviews as a finicky eater that sets her preferences aside and approaches each burger with an open mind and a prayer. Feel free to disagree with me, if you wish. And, my opinions should in no way discourage you from going to try these out for yourself. Your mind might get blown.
With my VIP pass, I was able to get in 30 minutes early and get an early start on the action! Not many stations were ready yet, but it’s always nice to get a feel for the layout before it gets too crowded.
As usual, the Sam Adams was flowing like water. But, I wasn’t here for the booze. Bring on the burgers!
- Burger 1: Sweet Caroline from Rok:Brgr (People’s Choice Winner)
- A patty with aged cheddar cheese, braised short rib, creamy coleslaw, fried onions, and bourbon BBQ sauce on a brioche bun
- If the coleslaw hadn’t overwhelmed the flavor of all of the other ingredients, I am sure that I would have liked this burger a lot more. Unfortunately, it felt like coleslaw with a hint of meat to me. But, everyone else liked it, so I must be weird.
- Burger 2: Caroline Slider from Christy’s
- A sirloin burger topped with pulled pork, aged cheddar, bacon aioli, arugula, pickled red cabbage, and served on a pretzel bun
- Not bad, Christy’s! This was a definite improvement from previous years. While they didn’t get my vote, the flavors came together to make a very tasty burger.
- Burger 3: Roadside Shack from Shake Shack
- A cheeseburger topped with bacon and caramelized onions.
- This burger is living proof that simple is often the way to go, and is also the first time that a burger from Shake Shack has EVER impressed me. It was juicy, melty, cheese awesomeness, and I wanted to keep eating it.
- Burger 4: Swine Burger Sliders from Swine Southern Table and Bar
- A blended patty with house-made dill pickle and topped with house-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, american cheese, and Swine Special Sauce
- Same as last year. While this isn’t exactly a bad thing, as their burger is amazing, I kind of wish that they would try something new.
- Burger 5: Pepperjack Short Rib Slider from Tarpon Bend
- Pulled short rib, pepperjack cheese, and garlic aioli
- The guy that was standing next to me when I grabbed one said that the burger tastes like tuna, which terrified me. Fortunately, the guy had no idea what he was talking about. It may have had a texture reminiscent of tuna because of all the mayo, though. WAY too much mayo.
- Burger 6: Burger Fi Cheeseburger from Burger Fi
- A cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and garlic mayo
- Not bad, but not spectacular. Definitely a step above a fast food burger, but nothing to write home about.
- Burger 7: Greek Turkey Burger from Books and Books
- Ground turkey patty stuffed with Parmesan and Feta cheeses wit Greek Tzatziki sauce on an onion Kaiser roll
- I have to give this place credit for always thinking outside of the box for these events. They made a turkey gyro wrap in a year, and this year the burger really did bring to mind a classic gyro, even if the taste wasn’t my cup of tea.
- Burger 8: Kentucky Bourbon Burger from Jr’s Gourmet Burgers
- An Angus beef patty with lettuce, tomato, Jr’s bacon onion jam, goat cheese, Kentucky bourbon sauce, and served on a Challah dinner roll
- Considering that extensive list of ingredients, I found this burger to be a bit boring and one-note. Nothing really stood out.
- Burger 9: The Bulla Burger from Bulla Gastrobar
- Veal, pork, and beef patty with honey-thyme glaze, Tetilea cheese, caramelized onions, arugula, and piquillo peppers
- All I could taste on this burger was pepper.
- Burger 10: The 22 from The 22
- Ground picanha patty with roma tomato, applewood smoked bacon, chunk guacamole, crispy plantain chips, cilantro aioli, and aged Cheddar cheese on a French Brioche bun
- My only major issue with this burger is that the bacon was served kind of as a garnish instead of as a topping. The burger itself was kind of messy, with slipper ingredients like guacamole and cilantro aioli making it difficult to eat, but it had some nice flavors going
- Burger 11: Pincho Burger from Pincho Factory (Winner Best in Bun)
- A burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, papitas (crunchy shoestring-style chips) and “secret pink sauce”
- To be honest, I am not sure how it is that this burger ended up winning. Nothing about it impressed me.
- Burger 12: Crispy Chicken Sliders from Spring Chicken
- Crispy chicken with house-made dill pickles and Duke’s mayo on a potato bun
- I am actually not sure if they were actually on the voting ballot or not, but this slider was the only thing that I came back for seconds on. Considering that the slider had mayo on it, that says a lot. But, the chicken itself was a flawless execution of crispy exterior and tender, juicy interior. Every other restaurant making chicken tenders/nuggets in Miami needs to come and take notes from this place. Oh, did I mention that they’re not even open yet? Teases…
- Burger 13: Shula Burger from Shula’s 347
- A chuck, brisket, and Angus patty topped with Brie cheese, fig jam, and poached pear on a Brioche bun
- If you read my burger event reviews, then you know that I had a bad experience in the past with pear on a burger. However, I put the past aside and took a bite…and immediately started looking for the Men in Black to come erase my memory of ever tasting this. It’s a burger, and it’s sweet, and it’s WRONG.
- Burger 14: Untitled Burger from Bricktop’s
- A burger topped with smoked Gruyere, mushroom sauce, and crispy onions
- Gruyere is the type of cheese that makes a statement, which it did that night. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good one. Plus, I have never been a fan of mushrooms on a burger, and this was no exception.
- Burger 15: The “Que Bestia” (what a beast) Burger from Pisco y Nazca
- An Angus beef patty topped with tomato panko, rocoto pepper aioli, and shoestring fries on a pretzel bun
- My first thought when hearing the Peruvian-inspired ingredients on this burger were that is was going to end very badly. Instead, it was one of the best bites of the night. The crunch of the panko and the creamy rocoto sauce made this almost like eating a hot beef ceviche. It was like showing up to a blind date expecting to be disappointed, then coming face-to-face with the man of your dreams. In fact, if I end up meeting the man of my dreams this way, his nickname is going to have to be “Hot Beef Ceviche.”
- “Lazo’s” Gourmet Burger and Radish and Orange Salad by Doctor’s Hospital
- A patty topped with a bacon, onion, and mushroom sauce, chili mayo and sliced Jack cheese on a Hawaiian sweet roll
- Doctor’s Hospital once again proves that hospital cooks don’t necessarily have to make hospital food, and also that someone at that hospital has quite an obsession with tropical flavors and spices. The burger itself was too spicy for my wimpy taste buds, but I was very thankful for the refreshing salad that they served to go with it. After all of the grease and meat, I welcomed some tangy greens.
Pardo’s Chicken returns with some tastings of some classic Peruvian eats to break up the burger monotony. On the menu was classic fish ceviche with yellow pepper sauce and samples of their Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken with cilantro rice. Yum!
Blue Martini was on deck, serving sample of their namesake Blue Martini, as well as their Brazilian martini. The Blue Martini was STRONG, but the Brazilian was smooth and exotically sweet.
Seasons 52 returns again with their famous dessert bar. You could help yourself to as many of their mini dessert shots as your heart cared to take. This year’s flavors were carrot cake, key lime pie, Raspberry cannolli, pecan pie, and S’Mores. After sampling 16 burgers, I only had room for a few bites of 2 of them. I must be losing my touch.
A newcomer on the scene was Vicky Bakery, offering samples of popular Cuban pastries served at their bakery. Good thing that they weren’t also serving “cafecito,” or there might have been trouble.
One thing I learned from my experience at Burgerliscious 2015 is that I probably know nothing about burgers, because I never seem to agree with the judges on their choices. However, it is still a great experience and a chance to push out of my comfort zone and try new things. I can’t wait until the next one. Congratulations to the winners, and see you next year!