This past Friday was the first ever Philly Burger Battle, presented by Philadelphia Magazine & Amstel Light. Unlike the Burger Brawl, readers had the opportunity to vote for their favorite burger from several regional restaurants in two separate rounds before the final 25 participants were selected. Compared to the Burger Brawl, it was on a Friday night, which it made it a little more relaxed than a Sunday afternoon. The space – outdoors at The Piazza at Schmidts – provided enough room for people to move around easily without feeling overcrowded. There were guide maps available to let you know where to find each competitor, as well as a breakdown of when the voting would end and winners would be announced (that was my one pet peeve about the Burger Brawl; I was not told when voting would end so by the time I’d gotten my share of burgers in and went to select my favorite, the voting bins had already been taken away). Signs at each booth gave full descriptions of each burger creation, from the type of meat to the toppings to the buns. And of course, there was the obvious presence of beer sponsor, Amstel Light: from giveaways of Amstel swag to the adorable and gorgeous Amstel Light girls taking pictures and directing traffic. My only complaint was that more burgers weren’t from Philly! (A lot of the competitors were from areas in the suburbs)
Unlike the Burger Brawl, I was ready this time: I would not be defeated by indigestion! I had a game plan; take small bites and try to hit as many of the stands as possible. In the end, I only made it to 20 of the 25 burger booths, but the ones that I did get to were pretty good. Here’s a run down of my favorites:
1) The Blind Pig’s “Against Doctor’s Orders” – An all beef patty topped with pepperjack cheese, bacon jam, pulled pork, coleslaw, fried onion strings and a housemade BBQ sauce. This was the first burger I tried and honestly, it turned out to be my favorite of the night. You can put coleslaw on just about anything and I’ll love it. The burger was nice and juicy, onion strings crispy and everything just pulled together with a lot of nice flavors. Plus, they’re local – I had to vote for them to make sure Philly would take home the crown!
2) PJ Whelihan’s (Turnersville) “Spicy Mustard Roquefort Horseradish” – There were 3 PJ Whelihan’s locations in the competition and this location had by far the best concoction: an 8 oz house blend of short rib, sirloin & brisket topped with a horseradish roquefort aioli, tomatoes & microgreens all on a mini brioche bun. The blend of meats gave it a great flavor. It was very light and fresh tasting, and wasn’t overwhelmed by the horseradish flavor at all.
3) Steam Pub “The Wass” – This was another one of those “put my favorite things on it and I’ll eat it” situations. The burger was an 8 oz angus patty topped with a fried egg, chipotle mayo, bacon crumbles, lettuce & tomato. Delicious! I would go to their restaurant and order this burger in a heartbeat.
And the winner was… The Pour House in… New Jersey!? How dare they win the PHILLY Burger Battle, right? Well, they did have a pretty good burger. The “Second Coming” was a patty made of a Pat La Frieda 100% dry aged sirloin blend (already making them a standout), topped with gruyere cheese, roasted garlic aioli and overnight tomatoes on a Le Bus roll (well hey, at least they’re local!).
All in all, it was a pretty cool event and it was interesting to see the differences between two burger competition events held in Philly this year. I just hope that next year, there’s more local/citywide representation! And for pictures of more of the burger battle fun, check out the album our Facebook page – Facebook.com/asideofketchup – Don’t forget to LIKE us while you’re there!