Restaurants vie for the title of ‘Best Burger’
There’s a burger war going down in this town.
The Burger Bash Detroit is Friday in Royal Oak and will send one winner to the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama. Later this month, the Burger Battle pits more than 20 Metro Detroit restaurants against each other for glory and bragging rights.
Detroit may be known for the coney dog, but these two similar, yet unrelated, events highlight that we really dig our burgers around here, too.
Here’s how the competitions differ.
Burger Bash is Friday at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, 316 E. 11 Mile. I’ve been asked to join the panel of judges that includes local food writers and chefs (thankfully for them, I fell off the vegetarian wagon long ago). This is a blind tasting, and the two dozen competitors will be judged on presentation and flavor.
The promoters — Social Connection and Ultimate Fun Productions — will pay the entry fee for the winning restaurant to compete in the World Food Championships this November. The Burger Bash also has a dessert competition, and one winner will be chosen and sent to the WFC, as well.
While I won’t know which restaurant has made which burger while tasting them, I do know that the competition will be tough.
Some of the participating restaurants include burger experts like Michael Symon’s B Spot Burgers, longstanding Royal Oak bar Mt. Chalet, and Basement Burger Bar, which has three Metro Detroit locations. The Bash also includes newer spots like the Brass Rail Pizza Bar (formerly Rub BBQ Pub in Grand Circus Park) and the Huron Room, a seafood restaurant in southwest Detroit owned by the same folks behind Green Dot Stables. Local culinary schools and caterers are also in the mix, including last year’s Burger Bash winner Dorsey Culinary School of Pontiac.
Each contestant is expected to make 500 slider-sized samples Friday night. St. Pierre Bakery is providing 7,500 brioche slider buns, but restaurants can decide to use those or bring their own. Fairway Packing Co. will provide the meat, which competitors can add their own seasoning to if they wish.
The public is invited, of course. A $40 ticket includes unlimited samples from more than 40 food vendors serving burgers, sides and sweets. Admission also gets you three beverage samples, a take-home pint glass and a keepsake photo. More than 20 breweries will help you cleanse your palette with beer and cider. Additional drink tickets can be purchased at the event.
Spend $50 for a VIP ticket and get in an hour early at 6:30 p.m. to beat the rush.
The attendees are judges, too. Besides the big prizes of Best All-Around Burger and Best Sweet judged by the panel, guests will be asked to cast their vote for the Most Unique Burger, Most Flavorful Burger, Best Turkey Burger, Best Mac and Cheese and Best Fries.
Get tickets at BurgerBashDetroit.com.
On June 25, Eastern Market will be filled with the aroma of grilled beef patties as the fourth annual Burger Battle returns.
For this competition, the 20-plus restaurants will get to grind their own blend of meat on site and serve samples to hungry attendees. The guests will vote for their favorite, and the top four will go to the finals. Of those, one winner will be chosen by a panel of judges that includes — oh boy — me and other local food experts.
Last year, Dearborn’s Taystee’s Burgers took home the win for their Ali’s Notch-Yo-Burger featuring a beef patty, bacon and Dorito chips. This year’s competitors haven’t been finalized, but organizers tell me there will be more than 20.
Like the Burger Bash, the Burger Battle is really a party. Located in Shed 5, 2934 Russell in Detroit, the Burger Battle (formerly titled the Burger Brawl) will have a full bar, DJ and a cornhole tournament. It’s a daytime event, lasting noon-5 p.m. Tickets, $15, can be purchased at dinedrinkdetroit.com.
I don’t think I’ve ever been hungry enough in my life to eat more than 20 bites of a burger, but I’ll be doing it twice this month. Wish me luck, and may the best burgers win.