Hamburger House Party 2016

Burger Beast’s answer to Burger Battle returns to Miami for the third year in a row.  Best of all, they appear to have fixed the logistical issues that plagued last year’s event.  This time around, the theme was 80’s, and it was a nostalgic travel back in time while enjoying some delicious bites.

Twenty restaurants.  Twenty burgers.  One winner.  Well, two if you count People’s Choice, but you get the idea.  Anyway, as usual, I sampled all of the burgers that were being showcased that evening.  Well, at least I thought I did.  I ended up missing one, even though I walked through the area twice after tasting 19 to make sure that I didn’t miss any.  Shame on me.

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  • Burger #1: Gilbert’s 17th Street Grill
    • The Mofongo – Certified Angus Beef Stuffed with Mofongo and topped with Swiss Cheese & Homemade Sofrito
    • I’m in love.  Mofongo in a burger is just plain genius.  Since plantains are a starchy, they absorb the juices of the meat as it is being cooked, and you don’t end up with that dry crumbly mofongo that some places have.  The kicker was that they even included a side of their version of a red sauce, which is my favorite mofongo dipping sauce. The was the first burger that I tasted that night, and it was definitely my favorite.  They got my vote.
  • Burger #2: Chefs on the Run
    • The Beastie Boys Burger – Angus 80/20 (Churrasco, Chuck, Brisket blend) topped with Herb de Provence Bacon, Provolone Cheese, Gorgonzola Bleu Cheese Mousse, & Ghost Chili-Habanero Butter
    • This burger was actually very good.  I have only recently grown to appreciate “stinky cheeses” on my burgers, and this was a good balance of high-brow ingredients on low-brow food.
  • Burger #3: Crackers Casual Dining
    • Southern Hospitality – Signature Burger Patty topped with Spicy BBQ Mayo, deep fried Pickle Spears, Pulled Pork Cheese Crisp, Smoked Gouda, & Sweet Potato Frizzles
    • All I tasted was pickle.That about says it all.
  • Burger #4: Hate Mondays Tavern
    • Warehouse Burger – Sirloin/Brisket/Smoked Rib Patty topped with Pesto blend with dry Slaw, Maple Bacon, Gouda Cheese, & a little Homemade BBQ sweetness
    • This tasted too much like just a regular burger.  It was a decent burger, but it was simply overshadowed by all of the GREAT burgers that were there.

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  • Burger #5: Jr’s Gourmet Burgers (People’s Choice Winner)
    • It’s a Wrap – Burger Patty, Fried Egg, Cheddar & Swiss Cheeses between 2 slices of Bread, all wrapped up in Bacon
    • This burger might have been very close to getting my vote if it hadn’t been for the presence of the fried egg.  Everything else about this burger screamed “Winner!”  I mean, where have YOU seen a bacon wrapped burger before??  Plus, the cheddar cheese that they used was great quality.  I just took a bite and got that cheese stretch that I love so much to go along with my crispy, salty bacon shell.
  • Burger #6: Wholesome Rollers (2nd Place Judge’s Choice)
    • The Wisconsin Butter Burger – Cheddar Cheese, Bacon, Bacon-fat Caramelized Onions, & Chuck’s Jalapeño Ketchup on a Pretzilla Pretzel Bun
    • I can see why this burger ranked highly.  It had three of the things that I LOVE on burgers: cheddar cheese, bacon, and pretzel buns.  The ketchup was a little too spicy for my liking, though.
  • Burger #7: Latin House
    • The Steamed Champ – Butter Steamed Beef, Five Cheese Fondue, Candied Bacon, Butter Lettuce, Heirloom Tomatoes & Roasted Aioli on a Brioche Bun
    • I was very underwhelmed by this burger.  I think the steaming of the patty, butter or not, really didn’t do the meat any favors.  Not much depth of flavor, not even with the other toppings.
  • Burger #8: M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom
    • Dr Jelly Finger – Burger topped with Bacon, Bananas, an Onion Ring, Jack Cheese & Blueberry Chipotle Jam
    • At first glance, this is an absurdly weird combination.  Yet, it almost worked.  The sweet undertone was just a little too strong for the burger to be successful.

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  • Burger #9: Norman Brothers
    • The B&B Burger – A 50% Wagyu Beef & 50% Applewood Smoked Bacon Burger Patty topped with Avocado, Tomato, Red Leaf Lettuce, Pepper Jack Cheese, House-made Chipotle Aioli, & even more Bacon on a Toasted Bun
    • I think that this would have been a very good burger if there had been less greens on it.
  • Burger #10: Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox
    • Ari 2.0 – Pastrami seasoned Burger with House-made Kimchi, Bacon & Honey Crisp Apple Chutney & Salted Caramel Honey Yogurt
    • Word has it that this was one of the most popular burgers of the night.  I wouldn’t get past my first bite.  Kimchi…yuck.
  • Burger #11: Orange Bear Restaurant
    • Double Bacon Cheddar Bourbon Burger – 75/25 Chuck/Short Rib/Brisket Burger Patty topped with Roasted Garlic Aioli, Habanero Bacon Jam, Sautéed Bourbon Onions, Crispy Bacon, & Bourbon Sauce on a Butter Toasted Roll
    • This was a good burger, but nothing really stood out about it
  • Burger #12: Fat Moe’s
    • Miami Burger – Fat Moe’s Secret Blend Burger Patty topped with Fried Plantains, Pepper Jack Jalapeño Cheese, Candied Onions & Moe’s Secret Sauce and Loose Meat Burger: Layer of Sharp Cheddar torched, layer of Burger Meat,
      layer of Cream Cheese torched litely, layer of Burger Meat, layer of Jalapeño Jack Cheese torched & wrapped with Bacon
    • For all of the things that were supposedly on this burger, it really didn’t taste like anything but a plain burger.  I didn’t even taste any plaintain in mine.  The burger itself tasted good, but it just didn’t taste like what I expected from the description.

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  • Burger #13: Pincho Factory
    • The Backyard Burger – Short Rib/Brisket/Chuck Patty topped with American Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Papitas & Pink sauce on a Brioche Slider Bun
    • I really missed the Tostones burger that they presented at Burger Brawl 2014.  This burger didn’t have that same “WOW” factor.
  • Burger #14: Shake Shack
    • ShackBurger – 100% All-Natural Angus Beef Cheeseburger topped with Lettuce, Tomato, & ShackSauce
    • In my many years of coming to these burger competitions, I believe I have only seen Shake Shack offer something besides the ShackBurger maybe once.  I guess they have enough confidence in their product that they don’t feel the need to be creative.  And, while it is a tasty burger, it just can’t hold its own against these competitors.
  • Burger #15: Woody’s Burgers
    • Tokyo Burger – Teriyaki Beef (Sirloin/Chuck/Brisket) Patty topped with Caramelized Bacon & Onions, Wasabi Mayo & Pickled Ginger
    • Woody’s attempt at incorporating Asian flavors in a burger was definitely more successful than Tucker Duke’s, but it was still overly sweet for a burger
  • Burger #16: The Local
    • “The Death of Disco” a.k.a. “The Ronald Reagan” – Slider topped with a House-made Ham Croqueta smothered in House-made American Cheez Whiz & Bacon Gravy
    • As with the kimchi burger, one bite of this burger was enough.  Croquetas are not my thing, and this one featured them prominently.

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  • Burger #17: Jersey Dawg (3rd Place Judge’s Choice)
    • Classic Slider – Ground Beef cooked on a bed of Steamed Onions, topped with American Cheese & served on a Martin’s Potato Roll
    • They must have done something right, because they were close to taking the price.  For me, however, they were just too ordinary.  Delicious, but boring.
  • Burger #18: Doce Provisions
    • Doce Burger – Short Rib Blend Burger Patty topped with Queso Frito, Truffle Aioli, Pickles, Tomato, & Frisee
    • The flavors of this burger were actually pretty darn good, but my patty was waaay undercooked
  • Burger #19: Burbowl (1st Place Judge’s Choice)
    • Juicy Smashed Burger – 100% Never Frozen Angus Beef, Melted Cheddar, Bacon, Grilled Onion and Mushrooms topped with our signature Garlic Chipotle Sauce, our Secret Sauce & our Cilantro Sauce on the side
    • This burger merely LOOKS simple and unimpressive, but was actually quite succulent.  I didn’t even need any of the sauces that it came with.  Fresh meat really does make a difference.
  • Burger #20: 109 Burger Joint (not sampled)
    • Morning in Havana – Two 1.5 oz smashed Coffee rub seasoned Angus Beef Patties, Espresso & Brown Sugar-cured Bacon, Swiss Cheese, Cortadito Sauce, Duck fried Yuca & Croqueta de Congri on a Honey Garlic Glazed Bun
    • I knew that 109 Burger Joint was supposed to be there that evening.  However, after walking around the venue multiple times looking for them, I assumed that they bailed at the last minute.  Thanks to some posters on Yelp, I discovered that they WERE there, and I’m just a blind idiot.  That is unfortunate, because I really would have liked to taste that burger.

In addition to burgers, Burger Beast was kind enough to arrange to have some other tastings available.  There was beer and other spirits, but I don’t drink and largely ignored those tables.  However…

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There were some great tastings to be had from other stations at Hamburger House Party 2016.  Sweetness Bakeshop offered samples of  variety of dessert shots.  I tried the Death by Chocolate and Tiramisu shots, which were both good.  Hip Pop, a regular at Burger Beast events, paid homage to the 80’s with their homemade pudding pops.  They were offering chocolate and bourbon vanilla.  The chocolate one was, by far, my favorite.  Magic City Casino handed out samples of chicken alfredo sliders.  I won’t lie, I enjoyed those sliders more than I enjoyed some of the burgers.  The breaded chicken was delicious and crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside.  There were also cookies from Night Owl Cookie Co, which I did not taste because I was just too full by then.

Hamburger House Party 2016 was a great event, and I am glad that last year’s unpleasant experience did not deter me from coming this year.  I will definitely be back next year.  Thank you to all of the restaurants that participated, and keep up the good work!

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