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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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Meatless March: The Sequel!

Since last year’s Meatless March experiment was such a success (or maybe I’m just trying to torture myself), I’ve decided to embark upon the adventure once again. It was a lot of fun trying different meatless burgers around town. They totally made me rethink the stereotype of a veggie burger being a boring, bland, dry-looking circle of fake meat. There were veggie-infused patties in all sizes, shapes and colors. Kicking things off this month is the “Bonzo Burger” at Taproom on 19th – a veggie patty consisting of Garbanzo beans, black quinoa, feta & cumin topped with cilantro yogurt on a Conshohocken Bakery roll.

The patty came with a char on the outside, reminiscent of your favorite backyard burger minus that burnt meat smell. The overall flavor of the burger was great but I felt that the texture of the patty itself was a little too soft, especially paired with the super soft bun. I added some of my salad to the top of the burger to give it a better mouth feel & add a little bit of crunch. It’s definitely worth checking out – especially on Monday nights when all burgers are 1/2 price!

NB: Just like last year, I won’t be doing individual ratings for the veggie burgers. At the end of the month I’ll do a recap of all the burgers I tried and let you know which one was my favorite! So be sure to tell all your veggie/herbivore or Lent following friends to check this series out!

Room for Improvement

I’ve been spending a lot of time in South Philly lately. Oh, not on the restaurant & shop filled promenade of East Passyunk Ave, but on the opposite side of Broad Street; the seemingly desolate area of the city known as South Philadelphia West. What’s even over there, you might ask? Well, it’s the slow start to what will hopefully be a new foodie paradise with places like the Mexican-Japanese fusion Cafe Con Chocolate, amazing Indonesian spot Sky Cafe and even a Vegan restaurant, Miss Rachel’s Pantry.

Also situated in the area is Taproom on 19th. While the spot was a long time neighborhood institution, the recent introduction of new owners, a new chef and a new look are helping bring craft beer and culinary delights to Girard Estate. I opted to stop by on a Monday night when their namesake Taproom burger is half-price all day: a LaFrieda Blend patty topped with butter lettuce, tomato, pickles, tap sauce and your choice of cheese. On a previous trip, I had split the burger with my dining partner so I couldn’t take a full burger analysis. This time, I had the burger all to myself.

The burger came out with a nice presentation: ample sized patty, lots of pickles, non-brioche bun. Things started to go downhill from here. The bottom bun was hard as a rock. I’m not sure if it was just over-toasted, stale, or toasted to cover up the fact that it might have been stale; it really threw me off, especially since the top bun was fine. The meat was juicy and flavorful, as one can expect from a quality meat like LaFrieda. However, the patty itself seemed to be all over the place. Ordered my usual medium, there were random spots of pink throughout instead of being consistently cooked. And while it started out thick as in the picture above, the back half of the patty seemed slightly smashed & thinned out, and began to fall apart inside the bun.

I was really disappointed since the first burger I had, while only half a patty, was rather enjoyable, well cooked and didn’t fall apart at all like the full burger did. Maybe it was just an off night? I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt because I think the place is a great addition to the still up & coming neighborhood. Hopefully next time I stop in for a burger, I’ll find better consistency.

Burger Rating: “C-“

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