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Last one out of Flavortown

This week we celebrated July 4th, which means we are smack dab in the middle of summer. And what are two things that are synonymous with summer? Burgers and outdoor concerts. A few years ago, I showcased burgers at some local venues here in Philly. And while BB&T Pavillion (AKA Susquehanna Bank Center AKA Tweeter Center, depending on how old you are) may seem like it’s part of the Philly music scene, it is technically in Camden. More than just the name has changed in the past few years – the food and beverage offerings have changed as well; a sure reflection on the thriving food & beer scene in Philly and South Jersey. There are now a myriad of craft beer stands (such as local NJ breweries River Horse & Flying Fish) and stationery food trucks set up throughout both outdoor areas, as well as inside the arena itself. There’s even a stand where you can get Chickie & Pete’s Crab Fries – everyone’s favorite ballpark staple.

And then, as I was heading to my seats. I saw this:

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“Is this real life?!”, I thought to myself. I mean, there is only one FlavorTown, headed by one fiery haired celebrity chef, right?? Sure enough, I rounded the corner and found the stand for Guy’s Burger Joint, with Guy’s smiling face and questionable facial hair staring right back at me.

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I evaluated the burger options – all fairly basic and in the $13-$16 range (which is about as much as you would expect overpriced venue food to cost). Well, it’s now or never, I thought to myself. I have to do this, right? I mean, it’s my duty as a burger blogger to eat this burger topped with whatever “Donkey Sauce” is so that other people don’t have to. So I saddled up to the counter, ordered a “Real Cheesy” – which is an 80/20 ground chuck blend patty topped with L.T.O.P (lettuce, tomato, onion & pickle; not to be confused with Kanye’s TLOP) S.M.C (super melty cheese) and a liberal slathering of the aforementioned Donkey Sauce (what I learned was a “jacked up” secret mayo sauce) on a buttered & toasted roll.

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Being that this was a QSR at a very large music venue, my burger was not cooked to order & was presented to me from a warmer mere seconds after ordering. The presentation of the burger itself wasn’t entirely terrible, save for the 2 inches of shredded lettuce topping it and hiding the sad burger patty. I did have to double check that they actually put a tomato on there (you can just make out its very pale red sliver). Once I got both my hands on it, the burger was much thicker than I had anticipated. Sure it was probably a frozen patty, but honestly, it tasted much better than some of the frozen patties I’ve ever had. The “Donkey Sauce” was bland and flavorless, there was entirely way too much lettuce & the only saving grace was the butter-griddled bun. The pickles were reminiscent of a cheeseburger at McDonald’s and all I could think was, “Oh my god I just spent $14 on an overpriced McDonald’s cheeseburger”.

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Compared to the sad looking slices of (probably $9) pizza I saw people carrying around, this is probably one of the best food options at the BB&T Pavilion (which really isn’t saying too much, I guess). So if you haven’t eaten before the show, or if you just get really drunk on $16 premium drafts and need to feed the beast, get yourself a ticket to Flavortown and check out Guy’s burgers.

Burger Rating: “Triple D”

 

 

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Rockin’ Burgers

So you’ve decided to go out and catch some live music. You’ve pushed through crowds to get a beer and a good spot to watch the band when your stomach begins to rumble. You know you should’ve eaten before the show but now here you are, minutes away from seeing  your favorite band and you’re hungry. What will you eat? Well, I’ve got a few burger suggestions from some local venues to help you out.

First up, Festival Pier. This re-vamped, outdoor space on the Delaware River plays home to Michael Shulson’s (of Sampan & Izakaya fame) Independence Beer Garden Truck, a mobile outpost of the newly opened beer garden on Independence Mall. The burger here is a simple patty topped with lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion, mayo and provolone on an onion roll. Considering the food is coming out of a truck while trying to accommodate a massive festival crowd, my burger was cooked perfectly medium without me even having requested such. It was juicy and delicious, showing that the crew running this truck has gotten handling long lines down to a science. Plus, they take credit/debit cards, so you can save the rest of your cash for an overpriced $12 can of Miller Lite! They also offer hot dogs, hoagies, fries, mac & cheese and grilled Mexican-style street corn.

Next, Boot & Saddle, a revived musical institution on South Broad Street catering to the indie and local music scene- with the occasional big name act on the bill (check out the events calendar for upcoming shows). With a solid craft beer selection and a menu created by George Sabatino, it sure beats your average dive bar fare of peanuts and PBR. The burger here is topped with smoked gouda, chili relish and braised pork belly (!).  My only issue with the burger itself were that I wished there had been perhaps a glaze or sauce to accompany the pork belly; the chili relish didn’t really add anything to the burger and the single piece of lettuce underneath just seemed out of place. It was also paired with a house-made ketchup that was far too citrus-y to use for dipping, although I did add a little on one bite of the burger to try and give the pork belly some more flavor. Otherwise it was perfectly cooked to medium as requested, another rarity you might not find in a dive bar.

 

Burger Ratings:

Festival Pier “A”

Boot & Saddle “B-“

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