Another year, another barrage of burger competitions. As usual, Burgerliscious in Coral Gables is the last burger festival that I attend every year, and the competition was fierce! Local restaurants brought out their “A” game. And, as usual, some fared better than others.
I enjoy the fact that a lot of these competitors tend challenge my idea of what the “ideal” burger is, and sometimes even bring me around to trying new things on my burgers. Of course, this means getting out of my comfort zone and trying burgers with toppings that I typically don’t like (hello there, mayo, onions, and pickles). Sometimes, I wind up pleasantly surprised.
So, who impressed me at Burgerliscious 2016? Let’s see!
- Burger #1: Fetes and Events – Fondue Burger
- Beef sliders with truffle tomato jam, crispy prosciutto, and brown butter sweet potato bread.
- What stood out the most to me about this burger was the crispy prosciutto, which was a pleasant salty crunch for me. Unfortunately, the fondue was kind of lumpy and the burger was already cold, which ruined it for me
- Burger #2: Swine Southern Table and Bar – Swine Burger Sliders
- Short rib, brisket, and smoked pork blend patty with homemade dill pickle, thick-cut house-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and Swine Special Sauce
- Swine, whenever they participate, always turn out their same signature burger. As the saying goes, “Don’t mess with the classics.” As always, it’s a strong contender with an incredibly juicy and flavorful patty, awesome bacon, and melty cheese. It was one of my favorites
- Burger #3: The Big Easy – The Big Easy Burger
- Local natural prime beef patty, tomatoes, red wine onion jam, rocket leaves, Braai sauce
- I had two Google the last two ingredients on their burger to even know what they actually were. Despite the exotic ingredients, this burger was pretty ordinary. What stood out the most was that the bread was kind of dry and hard, which wasn’t pleasant for me
- Burger #4: Christy’s – Christy’s Slider
- House-ground sirloin burger, portabella mushroom, aged Swiss cheese, truffle aioli, and bibb lettuce on a Hawaiian roll
- I’m usually not a had of mushrooms on my burgers, but this burger’s bite of portabella was one of my favorites of the evening. The flavors of the burger came together very well.
- Burger #5: Doctor’s Hospital – Mediterranean-inspired Burger
- Bruschetta topping (red onion, garlic, slivered kalamata olives, tomato, european cucumbers, Avocado, lemon zest, and fresh Herbs de Provence), Herb cheese (whipped Mascarpone cheese, whipped butter, fresh garden herbs), chopped fresh arugula, frise, and romaine, on a Hawaiian roll grilled with herb butter
- Doctor’s Hospital always comes up with some pretty crazy burgers, which kind of makes me imagine that their chef is some culinary mad scientist and we are all his guinea pigs. I was very fearful when I noticed that there were olives on the burger (which I probably hate even more than mayo), but I tried it anyway. Sadly, one bite was enough for me to know that this wasn’t for me.
- Burger #6: John Martin’s – The Pub Burger
- Beef patty with Irish cheddar, bacon, and pickles
- This burger was confusing. It had a patty that was incredibly dry and tasted like it might not actually be beef, although the claims were that it was locally sourced beef. Maybe it was just the way that it was prepared, but this burger was not a success. The chips that came with it were great, though.
- Burger #7: Rok:Brgr – Rok this Way Burger (People’s Choice Winner!)
- Special “ROK” burger blend patty topped with 10-hour smoked brisket, aged cheddar cheese, Chioptle BBQ aioli, pickled red onions, and house made pickles
- Rok:Brgr does it again! The brisket, covered with the melted cheddar cheese, simply melted in your mouth, and the beef patty was juicy and cooked to perfection. The tang of the red onions gave a nice contrast that rounded the flavors of the burger out. My only complaint is that this burger is not on their restaurant menu yet. They need to get on that.
- Burger #8: The Cafe at Books and Books – The One Night Stand Burger
- A 50/50 chuck and sirloin blend patty topped with J Wakefield Brewing Up Smoked Ported BBQ Sauce, caramelized onions, and Bleu cheese
- The Cafe at Books and Books normally serves up one of the weirdest burgers of the evening every year, so it was a shock for me to find their station had such a tame burger. The Bleu cheese and the caramelized onions paired very well together (*gasp!*…I enjoyed onions on my burger!). I think this was one of the better burgers of the night.
- Burger #9: Shula 347 Grill – Shula Slider
- American Wagyu beef topped with Vermont aged cheddar, Cipollini onions, and bacon jam
- I was very underwhelmed by this burger.
- Burger #10: Ventanas – The Ventanas Burger
- A beef patty with tomato jam, arugula, Bleu cheese, and spiced bacon on a brioche bun
- This was a very good burger put out by a newcomer on the event roster.
- Burger #11: Off the Mile – The Frita
- A Cuban frita (burger patty made with pork and chorizo) topped with potato sticks and sweet plantain
- I thought I knew what to expect after eating all of those fritas at the Frita Showdown not too long ago, but my first bite was like an explosion of grease in my mouth. Not pleasant at all.
- Burger #12: Bricktop’s Slider
- A burger with bacon, cheddar, and pickles
- The burger was simple enough, but unfortunately it was incredibly dry
- Burger #13: Pincho Factory – Pincho Burger (Winner Judge’s Choice)
- A burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, potato sticks, pink sauce, and American cheese
- The sauce that they put on this burger is tastes so much of mayonnaise, and they put SO MUCH on it, that I couldn’t get past the first bite. As usual, I disagree with the judges’ decision on giving them the win, but oh well.
- Burger #14: BurgerFi – House Veggie Burger
- House veggie patty with house secret sauce, lettuce, tomato, and white American cheese
- I was absolutely terrified to try this burger after finding out that it was not a meat patty. Those fears were unfounded, as the burger was actually very flavorful. I think that it worked because the patty was not intended to taste like meat, which is where a lot of other meatless burgers fail.
- Burger #15: American Harvest – The American Harvest Burger
- beef patty with house dressing, caramelized shallots, creamy fontina cheese, and Dade County Pickles
- I enjoyed the pickled vegetables served on the side of the burger more than I enjoyed the actual burger. It wasn’t a bad burger, though. There were just better ones available.
- Burger #16: Copper 29 – Pork Slider
- Pork slider with mango aioli, cabbage, and pickle
- I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this one. I think the mango aioli was a little bit too overpowering, but it had a lot of potential.
- Burger #17: Iron Tribe – Paleo Burger
- A beef burger with paleo mayo and paleo bbq sauce wrapped in lettuce and served with plantain chips cooked in coconut oil
- When I took my first bite, I wanted to look the chef in the eye and ask him what I ever did to deserve this. That being said, I do appreciate that a healthy food provider made an earnest attempt to give health nuts a burger. It didn’t work at all for me, but I’m sure that this made some Paleo person’s day.
- Burger #18: Pisco y Nazca – La Bestia Burger
- A burger with aji panca, spicy aioli, and potato sticks on a pretzel bun
- This was the same burger that they made the last time that they participated, only now they’re in slider form. The slider form kind of messed up the balance of the burger, so all of the flavors get lost in the overwhelming taste of the aji panca. I think it would have worked better if they had scaled back on that to account for the smaller sizes.
- Burger #19: Bulla Gastrobar – The Bulla Burger
- Grass fed Angus beef with Piquillo peppers, tetilla, caramelized onions, and honey thyme glaze on a homemade bun
- I was excited to try these burgers because they looked so nice and juicy, but they ended up being kind of bland.
- Burger #20: Tarpon Bend – Sweet Bacon Cheddar Short Rib Burger
- A burger with aged cheddar cheese, diced red onion, bacon, miso aioli, and balsamic reduction on a Challah roll
- The patty itself was cooked perfectly, but I don’t think that the actual burger toppings worked very well together.
- Burger #21 – Shake Shack – The BBQ Shackmeister
- An all natural Angus beef cheeseburger topped with crispy beer-marinated shallots and Shack BBQ sauce
- Shake Shack has a reputation for dishing out some decent burgers, but this burger was a salt bomb. I needed to drink like an entire gallon of water after one bite.
As usual, there were sweets available to counter all of the savory!
Cupcakes provided by Dee-lish Cupcakes.
And, of course, the usual dessert shots from Seasons 52!
Since it started to rain, I didn’t linger. But, thankfully, I got to taste all of the burgers at Burgerliscious 2016 before I had to make a dash for the safety of my car. Until next time!