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Like A Phoenix

Hawthornes Cafe is a Philly brunch & beer mainstay. Unfortunately about a year and a half ago, a devastating fire put them out of commission and left the Bella Vista neighborhood without one of their favorite bottle shops for almost a year. But like a phoenix, Hawthornes rose from the ashes and reopened better then ever this past spring – even becoming one of the first places in town to launch beer delivery! I stopped in on an unseasonably cold fall evening to warm up with a dark beer and one of their burgers. They have two options: the House burger, which is just your standard Angus beef patty topped with three-year aged Gouda and LTO, and the Hawthornes burger, topped with crumbled danish blue cheese, over easy egg, avocado & chipotle aioli. A fried egg AND avocado? Um yeah, I wanted that one!

The burger came out topped with a jiggly egg yolk just waiting to be cracked open. I smeared a little ketchup on the top of my brioche bun, pressed down and POP! Out oozed all that delicious yellow yolk. The patty was cooked perfectly to medium, the avocado was bright green and fresh, the chipotle aioli creamy with a kick, and the blue cheese crumbles gave the burger a nice, salty flavor without being overpowering like some blue cheese topped burgers I’ve had in the past. I used the bulk of the burger to sop up all the delicious yolk with every bite. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a burger that was so good I wanted to eat it again immediately afterwards. Everything about this burger was just perfection; a great treat on a chilly evening.

I’m glad to see that Hawthornes is back and thriving. You should check it out for yourself on Saturday, November 7th when they host their annual Fall Block Party. It’s a free event with fire pits, hay bales and of course – Beer! But make sure you hit the ATM beforehand as the event is cash only! Hope to see you guys there!

Burger rating: “A+”

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Feeling Sassy

I’d been meaning to get over to Sassafras in Old City for a while now to check out their Tuesday “Luncheon Lunacy” special: Between Noon and 5 PM, their signature sirloin burger is only $5.95! Unfortunately, I work on the opposite side of the city and Tuesdays can get pretty hectic, so I hadn’t been able to pop out and make the trip until this week. The burger comes with your standard LTO (lettuce, tomato & onion) and your choice of fries or a salad. You can also add cheese for $1 more, so I went with sharp cheddar.

The burger came out cooked perfectly medium as requested, with lots of juicy blood drippings (mmm, morbidly delicious!). The patty was quite thick and just slightly smaller in circumference than the bun. I was able to navigate and keep the burger-to-bun ratio balanced though with each bite. The cheddar cheese was oozing and gooey and kept falling off the patty, so I just kept picking it up with my fork and adding it back on. I also smeared a little of the garlic aioli on the top of the bun to give it a little extra flavor. All in all, it was the perfect bar burger. No frills, no muss and all at an unbeatable price! They also have other burger patty options on their menu (which are not included in the lunch special) like lamb, bison and ostrich, which sounds totally wild! Factor in their amazing classic cocktail list and live jazz during the week, and I’ll definitely have to make a return trip.

Burger rating: “A”

Need A Lift?

Over the holiday break, I finally got to try Cafe Lift for the first time, hitting it up mid-week to avoid the weekend brunch crowds. While I had my heart set on a delicious frittata that day, a burger special on their board caught my eye and I knew that I’d immediately have to come back to try it (especially since I really enjoyed the burger at their neighbor/sibling restaurant across the street, Prohibition Taproom). So I did! Their burger consists of two smashed & stacked Kensington Quarters grass-fed beef burgers topped with a fried egg, caramelized onions, provolone and a whole grain mustard aioli.

The burger came paired with a healthy, mixed green salad (I know you guys love your fries, but this is a mostly breakfast place, after all). The fried egg covered almost the entire burger, so I only managed to get this peek-a-boo picture. The runny egg yolk tasted delicious and created a beautiful mess all over my plate – and myself. The shiny, buttery brioche helped soak up all the yellow runoff. The caramelized onions & provolone pairing were great. The provolone wasn’t too sharp or overpowering, and the mustard aioli gave it a little extra kick. The burger patties themselves were cooked to well (and continued to cook while I was eating so that they were slightly too dry when I reached the last few bites) but you could taste the freshness in the grass-fed beef. I get the whole “smash” style, but they could have come off the grill a little sooner and been a little bit juicier – and then this burger would have been amazing!

If you’re going to come in and check it out (ain’t no shame in eating a burger at 10 AM), don’t forget your piggy banks – Cafe Lift is CASH ONLY! (and BYOB, so bring your flask, too).

Burger rating: “B”

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