Burger Battle 2016

The time finally came for one of my most anticipated events of the year!  Burger Battle returns for the 7th year in a row, and Burger Battle 2016 definitely did not disappoint.  Plenty of burgers and beverages galore, and a chance to see which burgers come out on top.

Naturally, I arrived extra early to make sure that I had plenty of time to eat my fill and taste every burger.

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Can’t you just smell them already?

In my haste, some of my pictures did not come out as well as I would have liked, so I must apologize for that. Lines get pretty long, and no one wants to wait behind someone taking their time snapping photos when they want to taste a burger.  Which were my favorites, and which should have stayed home?  Let’s find out!

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  • Burger #1: Hard Rock Cafe (Winner Best Bar and Grill Burger)
    • Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger: A burger with cheddar cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, house-made BBQ sauce, and Hard Rock Seasoning
    • This was one of my favorite burgers of the night.  It had my “Burger Holy Trinity”: BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, and bacon.  Practically any burger that has these ingredients will be a favorite for me.  The house-made BBQ sauce had the perfect blend of sweetness and tang to offset the smokey bacon.  Fantastic.
  • Burger #2: Chef’s Palette at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale
    • Grilled Brie and Short Rib Burger: Black pepper bacon, Brie cheese, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, bread and butter pickles, Miso aioli, and topped with a yuca and pepper jack fritter
    • The best part of the burger for me was the yuca fritter.  The burger itself had too many conflicting flavors.  It was like a bunch of people at a table trying to talk over each other, but instead of being heard it becomes just a garbled cacophony.
  • Burger #3: The Downtowner
    • Jameson Bleu Cheeseburger: A burger with Guinness cheese sauce and Jameson glaze
    • I probably could have taken a bath in a tub filled with that cheese sauce, I kid you not.  It was a perfectly smooth blend of cheeses with the bite of stout finishing it off.  The burger patty itself was kind of dry, though.  The sauce helped with that, though.
  • Burger #4: Brgr:Stop (Fan Favorite Winner)
    • The PB&J Burger: A burger with cheddar cheese, peanut butter, candied bacon, and tomato jam
    • This burger scared the hell out of me.  Peanut butter and jelly burger??  A small bit of bravery returned when I saw that the “jelly” was represented by tomato jam.  The first bite blew me away.  It was sweet, salty, and bacon-y all at the same time.  This was in my top 3 of the evening, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that they got a prize.

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  • Burger #5: Timpano
    • A burger with Teriyaki glazed onions, mango salsa, red chili aioli, cilantro cabbage slaw, and crispy shoe string potatoes
    • I never have high hopes for burgers that feature fruit or Asian-inspired flavors, as they almost always end up too sweet.  Think that, for this burger, the sweetness of the mango salsa and Teriyaki met evenly with the salty potato strings and tangy slaw.  It actually worked.
  • Burger #6: Shake Shack
    • The ShackBurger: same as always
    • Shake Shack rarely strays from their formula, so it’s hard to say anything about this burger that I haven’t said before.  One of my friends voted for this burger specifically because it was the most straightforward burger.
  • Burger #7: Funky Buddha Craft Food Counter and Kitchen
    • Southern Smash Burger: Charcoal grilled patty with secret spices, roasted jalapeño, pimento cheese, ginger candied bacon, and cider soaked Vidalia onions
    • This burger didn’t really work for me.  It was too heavy on the onion and pimento cheese, and the ginger in the bacon clashed with the rest of the flavors
  • Burger #8: M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom
    • Dr. Jelly Finger Burger: same burger as at Hamburger House Party
    • I didn’t try this burger here because I had already tasted it at last week’s event.

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  • Burger #9: Ten Palms
    • A burger with diced shallots, Bibb lettuce, tomato aioli, candied bacon, jalapeño cheese, roasted tomato jelly, and fried onions
    • This burger was WAY too sweet.
  • Burger #10: Burger Craze
    • Sushi Surf and Turf: Angus chuck burger with Ahi tuna, bleu cheese crumbles, Wasabi Mayo, Asian Coleslaw, and fresh ginger
    • Seared tuna, beef, and funky cheese do not belong together.  Ever.
  • Burger #11: Shooters Waterfront (Winner Best Knife and Fork Burger)
    • The Sunset Burger: Smoked guajillo glazed beef burger with romaine lettuce, ugly black tomato, sweet & spicy pickles, fried onion nest, and served on a red poppy seed bun
    • Maybe it was because of the strange color, but the bun didn’t taste quite right to me.  Other than that, this burger was okay.
  • Burger #12: Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox
    • The Umami Burger: A burger with bone marrow and red onion jam, aged Gruyere cheese, umami brined Shitake mushrooms, Black garlic aioli, crispy onions, roma tomatoes, and bacon on an onion brioche roll
    • Tucker Duke’s consistently had the longest line of the evening, so I was sure that I was in for a treat.  Unfortunately, this burger failed to deliver.  The shitake mushrooms just took over everything else.

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  • Burger #13: Duffy’s Sports Grill
    • Katsu Burger: a breaded and fried burger patty served with Poke Slaw, Hibachi Yum Sauce, and a side of lobster fried rice
    • I took one look at this burger and concluded that I probably wasn’t going to like it.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The panko crust surrounding the patty lent for a great crunch, while the beef inside was still moist and juicy.  The slaw on the burger was a tart and refreshing complement to the heaviness of the fried patty.  It ended up getting my vote for the night.  The lobster fried rice that it was served it was also pretty good.
  • Burger #14: Shula Burger (Winner Judge’s Choice, Best Burger Joint, AND Burger Nirvana)
    • The Heater: A burger with four pepper relish, red onion, shaved lettuce, pepper jack cheese, crispy jalapeños, and chipotle spread
    • One bite and I was assaulted by flavors that just didn’t sit well with me.  But, considering how many awards they took home that night, I guess they did something right.  The judges must like heat.
  • Burger #15: Bamboo Beach
    • A burger with hot sauce, American cheese, guacamole, and jalapeño
    • I think that they played it kind of safe and wound up with a burger that was a little too bland.  Not a bad burger, though.
  • Burger #16: Beauty and the Feast
    • They were announced as one of the participating restaurants this year, but I didn’t see them anywhere.  It’s possible that I missed them.

Most of the people that know me will know that a burger like Hard Rock’s would have been my vote for sure.  So, why did I go with Duffy’s Katsu burger?  At the end of the day, Hard Rock Cafe’s BBQ burger was everything I want in a burger, and that’s the problem.  Duffy’s took the concept of a burger and transformed it in such a way that it created an inventive new twist on a burger.  This is a hard thing to do successfully, yet they completely took everything that I know about burgers, turned it upside down, and STILL produced a delicious and succulent product.  Since it was the choice between meeting my expectations and completely blowing my expectations, but impressing me anyway, then I had to go with Duffy’s.

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As with every year before it, there was a french fry bar!  I didn’t have any this year.  I was too distracted by burgers.  I wasn’t even able to catch the name of the restaurant that provided the fries.  I must be losing my touch.

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Aaaand, there were sweets available from a local bakery!  Check out those beautiful red velvet cake pops and the adorable shortcake sliders!

Once again, Burger Battle came and went too quickly, but there’s always next year.  Thank you to all of the restaurants that participated and let us eat our fill at Burger Battle 2016.  See you next year!

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