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N3rd Burger

Don’t be alarmed by the “leetspeak” title of this post. I haven’t been hacked; just paying tribute to this week’s burger from North Third (or N.3rd), tucked away in the Northern Liberties neighborhood on – where else? – North 3rd street. This is another one of those “been meaning to get here forever” places, but every time I’ve tried to go on the weekend, it’s always packed! A dreary, rainy night granted me some luck and I was able to snag a table in the bar area to check out their burger: a Black Angus patty accompanied by your requisite lettuce, tomato and onion on a brioche bun. I opted to add a slice of Vermont cheddar for $1.25.

The burger came out perfectly medium as requested; maybe even a little on the medium-rare side as the center was bright pink but not bloody. The burger to bun ratio was perfect and the burger itself tasted fresh and delicious. The cheddar cheese covered the patty completely and was nice and gooey. It was a great, simple, no-frills bar burger. And at only $11, you won’t break the bank piling on a plethora of cheeses and other toppings for a few bucks more each to customize it the way you want.

Burger rating: “B+”

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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”

Summer Beer Garden Series: Drury Beer Garden

It was a long, harsh winter but summer is finally here! I’m excited to spend as much time outdoors soaking in the sun and warmth as I can, and along with that, spending time in all the great outdoor spaces that have started popping up around Philadelphia in the past few years.  We sure have plenty of places to drink outside and naturally, you’re going to want to eat, too. So for the entire month of July, I’ll be highlighting the burgers around town at various beer gardens. First up: Drury Beer Garden, located behind Opa. You can either access it by heading down that sketchy alley where McGillin’s Olde Ale House is (you know the one) or through the rear door of Opa’s dining room.

 

The DBG Double Down Burger is a two handed, double decker delight: two 5 oz patties topped with house cured bacon, sharp cheddar, beer sauce & a giant tomato slice. I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger cooked and was worried that the size of the two patties would result in their being cooked to medium-well/well done, but they came out surprisingly pink (I think due in part to the hand-formed shape of the patties). The giant tomato slice made the already large burger a little awkward to eat, but I managed my way around it. The ciabatta-like bun was thick, which was good since there was a lot of grease/meat juice runoff; the bun helped to catch a good deal of it. While the presentation looked nice, it seemed a little cumbersome serving it on the board. The seasoned, hand-cut fries started sliding off and the meat juice/grease that had run off the burger started to pool in the center. I was worried that the busser/bartender would get splashed with it when they cleared my plate! There also wasn’t any place to put condiments (I wasn’t given any and I wish I’d had some kind of aioli or ketchup to enjoy the fries with). Weird plating aside, the burger was really tasty and, paired with a Dogfish Head Festina Peche, a great way to spend a sunny afternoon!

Burger rating: “B-“

Third Time’s A Charm

Since I went to Good Dog during my Meatless March adventure and had a really great veggie burger, I decided it was time to give their regular burger its final chance to impress me. My first trip in 2011 warranted a “D” rating and a revisit in 2013 upgraded that to a “D+”. Would a year & a half between visits finally give their burger rating the boost it deserved? I ordered the burger exactly the same way – topped with cheddar cheese, medium temperature – and kept my fingers crossed until it arrived. To recap, the burger is a 1/2 lb ground sirloin patty topped with lettuce & tomato on a brioche bun.

At first I was concerned because of all the empty space on the bun and the lettuce was a large, limp leaf sticking out from under the bun (which I tucked back in to take this picture). But I took one bite and a smile crept across my face: We had success! The burger was cooked perfectly to medium as requested and was nice and juicy. Once I began eating, the burger to bun ratio eventually evened itself out. It turned out to be a simple, flavorful, no frills bar burger. I was glad that I had enough confidence in it to return and try it for a third time & finally got the version of this burger that so many of my friends had bragged about as being the best in town. I’m proud to upgrade this burger’s rating from a “D+” to a “B”.

Burger rating: “B”

It Takes A Village

National Burger Month has come to a close sadly, but I celebrated it the best way I knew how: by eating my 100th unique burger in Philly! I knew I had to make it a good one, so of course I chose the crown jewel of burgers: The Whiskey King at Village Whiskey – An 8 oz patty topped with maple bourbon glazed cipollini onions, Rogue bleu cheese, Applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato and – the pièce de résistance – seared Foie Gras! Check out these two beautiful glamour shots below:

The burger was cooked perfectly to medium as requested and was super juicy. Luckily the burger was sandwiched between a giant seeded bun & had a “lettuce diaper” to help restrain some of the runoff. This was definitely a two hander! I took my time with it, trying to make sure that the burger didn’t slip away from me. The bacon was crisp, the onions nice & sweet, the bleu cheese was the perfect blend of creamy, tart & salty, and the foie gras was buttery and delicious. I did eventually run out of burger and had a little bit of bun and tomato left over, but I was just proud of myself for making it through this bad boy. I almost gave up halfway through, but I persevered!

On my way inside, I noticed this sign for the Better Burger Project, a challenge on behalf of the James Beard Foundation, encouraging restaurants to create a more delicious, healthy & sustainable burger by blending in finely chopped mushrooms to their burger mix. I normally hate mushrooms, but I would be interested in trying this! So keep an eye out at your local restaurant to see if they’re participating, or stop by Village Whiskey this summer to try their entry into the Better Burger Project: The Woodland Jewel Burger.

Burger rating: “A-“

Back to the Burger

I’m an 80’s baby: the movies, the music and yes, even the fashions – I love it all. Which is why I was excited when I learned that Kevin Sbraga would be making his 3rd Philly restaurant, Juniper Commons, an 80s-themed affair.

However, some people seemed skeptical about the cuisine, and in all fairness, who really wants to relive the dark times of salad bars with sneeze guards and wine coolers when we live in a world now with foraged greens and Foie Gras? Lucky for me, the cheeseburger is a menu mainstay, no matter what the decade. The burger here comes with your standard LTO (lettuce, tomato, onion), special sauce and your choice of cheese (I went with my go-to, cheddar), all on a house-baked, seeded brioche bun.

The burger patty was massive and juicy and cooked perfectly medium as requested. The meat was flavorful and delicious. The only problem was the burger-to-bun ratio: The juiciness of the burger caused bottom bun sogging, which immediately caused me to overcompensate with each bite I took, and I quickly found myself running out of bottom bun. Otherwise, everything else about it was just right. Simple & no frills, the way a good burger should be – and that’s why it’s such a timeless treat. But if you wanna get really 80’s with it, also order up a side of fried smelts (aka fries with eyes!)

Burger rating: “B”

Paradise By The Neon Light

“Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night…”

Nestled just a few blocks off East Passyunk’s main strip lies a storefront with twin neon signs like glowing beacons enticing you to come inside. That place is Fountain Porter, home of the $5 burger. That’s right, folks. Five bucks. One Abe Lincoln. There are no frills and no gimmicks. If you want a burger, you come here (and hopefully you do, because other than some bar snacks, that’s the only item on the menu).

The burger comes on a soft potato roll topped with lettuce, tomato and American cheese (pickles on the side, ribbed for your snacking pleasure). Standard. Simple. Perfect char on the outside, delicious and juicy on the inside, just the way a good bar burger should be. Pair this bad boy with a side of crispy, hand-cut fries and you’re “gonna go all the way tonight“.

Burger rating: “B”

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