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2016 Burger Brawl

Hello again! I know it’s been a while, but I came out of retirement this weekend and put my burger eatin’ pants on to check out the 6th annual Philadelphia Burger Brawl. I last attended the event back in 2013, but was glad to see it has gotten bigger (moving down to Xfinity Live!) and better since then – this year adding both the “Taco Takedown” and a cocktail competition.

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Out of the 29 burger competitors, I think I tried all but 5 due to a combination of the heat, some of the burgers not being ready yet during the VIP hour & simply being way too full. Here are some of my favorites (You can also check out more pictures from the event on our Facebook page):

The N’duja Jawn from Taproom on 19th – a Pat LaFrieda patty topped with N’duja spreadable salami, fresh mozzarella & tomato conserva on a Conshohocken Bakery potato roll. Definitely giving you lots of South Philly Italian flavors!:

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The Dandelion’s burger – A house blend beef burger topped with parmesan cheese, Brooklyn brine pickles, roasted shallot vinaigrette, lemon truffle dressing & watercress.

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Valley Beach’s (At Valley Forge Casino) Wipe Out burger topped with bacon, nacho cheese sauce, pico de gallo & a spicy cilantro aioli:

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So who were the winners? In the Judge’s Choice category… Pineville Tavern with their Million Dollar Bacon Burger!

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And the People’s Choice… Lucky’s Last Chance with their PB&J bacon burger! They also won People’s Choice in 2013!

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My only issues were the heat (which can’t be helped, obviously. It’s June) & that many burgers were past my preferred temperature of medium, due to health dept restrictions. Also: I was too full of burgers to try any of the tacos! Otherwise, everything about this event was fantastic. I love that they moved it to a bigger venue to give people more space to move around and spread out (and loosen up those waistbands). The former venue was a school parking lot that was very small & cramped & there wasn’t any seating. VIP Burger Brawl attendees got access to a covered outdoor bar at Xfinity Live & other attendees also had access to several patio areas with ample seating & tables to sit, relax & play some games like giant Jenga & cornhole. I’m definitely looking forward to attending again next year!

I’m also looking forward to posting more burger deliciousness for you! It may not be as regular (ie: weekly) as before since I’ve pretty much eaten almost every burger in Philly, but what’s summer without some good burgers? I’m planning to do a few burger “field trips” to showcase stuff outside the Philly area, as well as a special post about the burgers I ate on my recent trip to Japan, so stay tuned!

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The Splatty Awards!

Welcome all to our 100th post! In honor of this milestone, I bring you a little something I like to call “The Splatty Awards!”: recapping the best things I have been eating, drinking & doing for the past year or so.

Best food item that comes in a jar: Tomato Conserva at In Riva 

Briefly removed from their winter menu for a few weeks in December (in which I cried into my pillow every night), the Tomato Conserva is back in action!

This sweet bruschetta will have you licking the jar clean & begging for more!

Best New York City to Philly transplant (other then myself): Shake Shack

Danny Meyer’s fast-casual burger joint quickly gained a fandom on Sansom Street in the summer of 2012, and expanded this year with outposts in University City & King of Prussia.

The Smoke Shack was initially conceived for the Philadelphia location, but has expanded to all Shacks globally.

Best food I used to be terrified of but now can’t stop eating: Oysters

Yeah, they’re slimy and salty and weird and jiggly, but they’re also delicious!

I’ve been making it my mission to hit every buck a shuck & half price oyster night in town.

Best pop-up: Lucky Old Souls’ Patty Melt Pop-up at Kennett

 When the LOS truck’s engine went kaput this fall, the team at Kennett lent them a hand – and their kitchen – for the evening to raise money for a new one.

And maybe I’m a little bit biased because it was my suggestion to turn out patty melts; a once in a blue moon burger special they were serving up on East Passyunk last spring.

Best Beer Drinking Event: Philly Beer Week Opening Tap

I’ve been partaking in Opening Tap for the past two years now, and seriously, if you’re not making this a priority during PBW, you’re missing out.

Opening Tap showcases the best and brightest of the local Philadelphia beer scene under one roof (the Independence Visitors Center, to be exact). But remember, it’s a marathon – not a sprint!

Best Beer Drinking Event Involving Animals: Summer Ale Fest at the Philadelphia Zoo

Great Beer + Local Food + Adorable Animals = One of the most awesome times you will ever have. Don’t forget to take a selfie of yourself “drinking a beer” with a tiger!

Most of the animals are actually awake compared to a day trip, and zoo docents are on hand to provide detailed information on your favorite critters.

Best Happy Hour (tie): Sampan and Alla Spina

Sampan gets the advantage as they have happy hour 7 days a week from 4-7 PM, but Alla Spina offers some great bar bites and their Victory Brewing beer collab, Novello, for only $3!

Don’t miss Sampan’s edamame dumplings or the pretzel bites with beer cheese at Alla Spina (they come in an adorable wooden piggy)!

Best Brunch: Jerry’s Bar

The Brunch crowd mourned the loss of Cafe Estelle for many months, but Marshall Green’s famous & delicious sticky buns have finally found a new home in Northern Liberties.

I hated Bloody Marys until I tried the one at Jerry’s and now I’m hooked. Seriously – best Bloody Mary ever!

Best Restaurant: Spot Burger

But isn’t Spot Burger a food truck?”, you’re probably asking yourself. Well, who says a restaurant needs to be defined by four brick walls?

 SpOt Owner/Grillmaster Josh Kim is the hardest working man in these streets right now, and he proves it on a weekly basis with his innovative specials (like a $10 Lobster Roll this summer), as well as his philanthropic efforts. He supports dozens of college organizations and local charities, frequently running specials and donating portions of his proceeds to these causes. He’s been a champion for food truck rights in Philadelphia, residing on the board of the Philly Mobile Food Association, and turned the corner of 33rd and Arch St into the “Food Truck Mecca”. So next time you see his yellow cart around, grab some grub; you won’t be disappointed! Spot serves up one of the best burgers in town.

And that concludes our awards ceremony! I hope you’ll at least check out some of the places and foods I love, in addition to the delicious burgers I recap for you guys each week. Got any great places and foods you think I should try? Post em up in the comments section and maybe they’ll wind up on my “best of” list next year!

On a Roll

Growing up along the Long Island Sound, lobster rolls were a quintessential part of summer, right along with backyard BBQs and getting an ice cream cone from Mister Softee. I mean, my parents even moved to the birthplace of the lobster roll when I graduated college. So when I moved south and inland to Philadelphia, I was hit with sticker shock at a variety of restaurants who were pricing my favorite summer treat at nearly $20 or over! And they weren’t even the delicious, Connecticut-style kind. They were gross, mayo-laced New England atrocities. (Seriously guys, mayo and seafood is a terrible combination!) How was a girl to get her fix of warm, buttered crustacean on a bun?

Well, luckily, Luke’s Lobster heard my pleas and opened up shop in Philadelphia just a few months ago. For a mere $15, you can get your taste of Maine’s greatest export. Plus add a bag of chips & a soda for only $2!

Just when I thought summer couldn’t get any better, my favorite food truck, Spotburgers, brought back their much anticipated lobster roll special from last summer (which sold out within minutes whenever it was on the menu). For only TEN AMERICAN DOLLARS you got a whopping 6 oz of lobster with a little tomato & corn garnish, plus a side a fries. That was an even slicker deal then Luke’s! (and much tastier!)

And then, Johnny Brenda’s threw a clambake bash and put a NINE DOLLAR lobster roll on their menu! $9. It was unheard of! Oh sure, it didn’t come with fries, but I could drink a beer while enjoying it and that was good enough for me. Throw in a side of coleslaw, some pickles & a little lemon mayo and it was the perfect summer treat.

Now the Spot lobster roll is a special, so you’ll want to watch their Twitter feed (linked above) to find out where and when it’s popping up next. But for the best bargain lobster roll in town, head over to Luke’s Lobster on 17th & Sansom any time. (Plus, they even deliver after 5 PM, so you don’t even have to leave the house to get it!)

Hitting the SPOT

Spot is an adorable, bright yellow food cart currently roaming the streets of Philadelphia serving up gourmet burger, steaks & pork sandwiches, and gaining quite a name for itself in the process. Usually stationed around 33rd & Arch on Drexel’s campus, they’ve also been chillin out at several Philly MFA meetups, local events and at The Porch @ 30th street on Wednesdays during the Farmer’s Market (which is where I enjoyed them most recently).

My first SPOT burger!

I’d been missing Spot in my life for a while since I was forced back to work in the suburbs, but through some arm-twisting on Twitter by Josh (the man behind the grill), I got my butt on over  there when I was working in the city one Wednesday afternoon. I’d never gotten a chance to try their fries before (either sold out or not being offered because it was a special event), so I was super excited. (Everyone loves fresh cut fries, ya’ll!) The line was long and the sun was hot, but I was patient and determined. I placed my ordered and waited some more.

Lunch rush at Spot can be crazy and Josh is the only one in the box, so just relax and let the man do his job. I promise the end result will be worth it! And after a brief name mix up (Seriously, no one has my name ever. What are the odds?) in which a lady stole my lunch and we had a good laugh about it, I sat down ready to enjoy my Spot burger & fries. The burger comes topped with homemade slaw, pickles, bacon, cheddar cheese & super secret SPOT sauce.

The bun is nice and soft. The burger itself gets more delicious with every bite; you can taste the difference in the fresh ground sirloin they use for their patties. I love the dill pickle wedges. And the fries! So good, I had to cut myself off from eating them because I was already so full. It’s safe to say that Spot hits the spot (oh hey, I see what you did there!) every time, so track em down when you get the chance!

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