We’re Going to Eat 20 Burgers at the South Beach Burger Bash Next Week
Have Bellies – Will Travel.
That’s one of our many mottos here at Burger Days. And as modern-day, greasy Paladins, we’re always down for a burger trek – especially when the trip gets us out of frigid D.C. in February. The fact that the destination is Miami Beach and there’s an endless supply of booze and burgers waiting for us, well, that’s just the proverbial bacon on the proverbial patty.
One week from today, we’ll be elbow deep in beef at the Amstel Light Burger Bash in South Beach presented by Schweid & Sons, plowing our way through meat and bun on the beachfront of the Ritz-Carlton. This will be our sixth Bash (third in South Beach) but never before have we seen a lineup like this. As always, New York and Miami restaurants are rolling deep but there’s a noticeable absence of Food Network stars in the mix this go ’round. In fact, out of the 30 participants, only one – Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto – can be reasonably called a TV star. Past burger bashers Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri and four-time South Beach champ Michael Symon are all AWOL from this year’s competition. And we couldn’t be more excited.
Without all the celebre-chefs in the running, the competition (which tends to become a popularity contest) is wide open this time and, most importantly, the Bash menu is the best we’ve ever seen. Typically, we’ll target 10-15 burgers to eat per Bash. It’s a daunting but not impossible goal that we’ve reached more times than not. This year, however, there’s 20 damn burgers that we need inside us.
Here’s our 2015 Bash targets along with why each burger earned its place on our esteemed list:
1) Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar’s Bash Daddy – a short rib, brisket and chuck blend patty with raclette and comte cheese, Amstel-and-bacon braised caramelized onions and mustard aioli.
This is like fondue on a burger. We may not poop for a week but it’ll probably be worth it.
2) Blue Collar’s Real Juicy Cheeseburger – prime dry-aged short loin, American, Portuguese muffin and house pickle.
We fell in love with bolos levedos – a giant, slightly sweet Portuguese version of an English muffin – during a trip to Rhode Island last summer. They’re fantastic but virtually non-existent outside of New England and we’ve been screaming for someone to bring them to D.C.
3) Bubby’s The Jewban – housemade dill pickles, Heinz yellow mustard, Swiss cheese, homemade pastrami, caraway salt or a pressed crispy potato roll.
We love burgers. We love Reubens. We’re pretty sure we’ll love this.
4) Charm City Burger Company’s The Belly of the Beast – Charm City blend patty, beef belly bacon, pickled tomato, white American cheese and March Deluxe sauce.
Because “beef belly bacon.”
5) Council Oak Steaks & Seafood’s Council Oak Steakhouse Burger – brisket, vintage cheddar cheese, marrow aioli, tomato jerk marmalade, house pickles, onion confit, iceberg lettuce and farm fresh egg.
OK, so no points for the boring name but a healthy dab of that marrow aioli might make us forget all about their lack of creativity.
6) Garces Group’s Whiskey King – maple bourbon glazed cipollini, Rogue bleu cheese, foie gras.
Not gonna lie, we had to Google “cipollini” (it’s an onion) but the inclusion of foie gras in the mix make this a can’t-miss stop.
7) Hard Rock Cafe’s Legendary Mac and Cheese Stack – ancho-spiced brisket and short rib blended burger topped with Cuban picadillo, brie and fontina macaroni and cheese.
We’ve had macaroni and cheese burgers before but they’re usually made with sub-par beef and sub-par mac and cheese. We’re eager to see how the fancy-ass stuff works in this combo.
8) Holsteins Shakes & Buns’ The Gold Standard – aged beef, grilled onion, bacon jam and bleu cheese aioli.
Our affinity for bacon jam is widely known and we dig the jam-bleu cheese combination. But what really makes us want to check out Holsteins is their side dish: crispy pig tails done buffalo style. Oink, oink, suckers.
9) Latin House Grill’s Madlove Champ – blend of brisket, chuck, sirloin, three cheeses, Applewood maple glazed bacon, butter lettuce, plum tomatoes, avocado and candied jalapeno.
The bacon and jalapeno should bring some sweet to this savory mix (always a winning combo). Add some heat from the pepper and we’re in there like swimwear.
10) Little Bread’s Little Bread Burger – cheddar, shaved onions, mustard caviar, LB pickles, smoked ham hock marmalade on Nigella seed brioche.
Another weak name but mustard caviar has us intrigued and smoked ham hock marmalade has us drooling.
11) Lonesome Dove Western Bistro’s Rib Eye Burger – lamb bacon, arugula, roasted red pepper hollandaise on an English muffin.
Our favorite steak turned into our favorite sandwich plus the belly of a lamb? Score.
12) Lure Fishbar’s Bash Burger – caramelized onion and bacon jam, shaved pickles, American cheese and secret sauce.
Five-time NYCWFF Burger Bash winner Josh Capon looks to bring a South Beach title home and without Michael Symon in the hunt, this just might be the year he does it. Look for our interview with Capon coming next week.
13) Michael Mina 74’s Michael Mina 74 Dry Aged Steak Burger – double smoked bacon, ‘Merican cheese whip, secret sauce
Ugh. Again with the name. But when your restaurant is your name followed by a number, I guess we shouldn’t expect much better.* But hey, double smoked bacon is awesome and ‘Merican cheese whip makes us all antsy in our pantsies so this one gets a pass. * Yes, we know Mina’s got a whole lot of restaurants.
14) Morimoto South Beach’s Chef Morimoto’s Short Rib Burger – Wagyu beef short rib burger with homemade pickles.
This dude’s an Iron Chef so we sorta, kinda, have to eat his burger. Right?
15) Pincho Factory’s Croquetesa – a brisket, short rib and chuck croquette patty topped with Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and mayo inside a brioche bun.
It’s a fried burger patty covered in cheese and condiments, wrapped in a bun. How could we not eat this thing?
16) Prime One Twelve’s Prime Kobe Burger – Wagyu burger with truffle mac n’ cheese, Applewood smoked bacon and aged cheddar.
If the Hard Rock mac and cheese burger above is fancy, this thing is the Ri¢hie Ri¢h version.
17) Shake Shack’s Roadside Shack – American cheeseburger topped with bacon and caramelized onions.
18) The Country Cat’s Beef Belly Burger – Beef belly burger with spicy pepper jack cheese and smoky bacon tomato jam.
Please see above comments on beef belly and bacon jam.
19) The Meatball Shop’s Reuben Burger – beef patty with pastrami spice, Swiss, Thousand Island and sauerkraut.
Anytime NYC’s fantastic Meatball Shop does a burger-Reuben hybrid, you can bet your asses we’ll be there to eat it. (And seriously, their website actually says the word “balls.” How awesome is that?)
20) Toro NYC’s Toro Burger – beef burger, onion soup mayo, jalapeno chips and foie gras onions.
If it can’t be straight-up foie gras, we’ll settle for foie onions. Plus there’s onion soup mayo which sounds ridiculously good.
There they are – the 20 burgers we’re shooting to toss down the ol’ face hole next Friday. It’s going to be dirty. It’s going to be greasy. It’s going to be disgusting. And damn it, it’s going to be amazing.
God help our arteries.
Full 2015 South Beach Burger Bash lineup: