Twin Cities Burger Battle 2016

Last Saturday was one of my favorite days of the year: Twin Cities Burger Battle.  This was the second year in a row that I attended this (and the third year that they have held it – the first year was sold out before I knew about it – won’t make that mistake again!).  This year they upped the number of tickets to 2,500 (previously 1,800), and it sold out again in record time.  This year featured 6 more restaurants than last year, bringing the total to 25.  To accommodate the larger crowd and the additional restaurants, they moved the event to Harriett Island, which was a great venue.  All-you-can-eat burgers, and all-you-can-drink beer provided by Summit and Fulton.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening!

Just like last year, each of the locations offered a slider, which could be prepared any way they choose.  Each attendant received a chip to vote for their favorite.  There was also a panel of judges that selected their favorite burger.  There were main awards that were given out: People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice.  I’ll cover who was in attendance and what they brought before announcing the winner.

The Contestants:

Ox Cart Ale House“The Ox Cart Burger”
Ground Chuck and Brisket Patty, House-made American Cheese and Dill Pickles, Caramelized Onions on a Saint Agnes Milk Bun.  With house-made ketchup and yellow mustard upon request.

My Burger “The Saint Paul Double Stack”
Two beef patties made from a special house grind, topped with two slices of aged white Irish cheddar and grilled onions braised overnight in Summit Great Northern Porter beer, served on top of a garlic herb buttered bun.

Gold Nugget Tavern and Grille“The GFB” (Good F-ing Burger)
Smoked short rib blended into a premium blend ground beef patty, topped with a house made chive “Velvetta”, smoked poblanos, bacon fat whipped mayo, tomato jam, and pickled red onions.

Happy Gnome“Gnomewurst Burger”
Bratwurst patty (beef, pork) topped with smoked Gouda cheese, pickled red onions, bibb lettuce, fresno chilies, creamy beer mustard, on a caraway bun.

Twin Cities Burger Battle 2016 - Freight House
Freight House – “Reuben Burger”

Freight House“Reuben Burger”
Fresh patty made with ground sirloin and ground corned beef, aged Swiss cheese, house made bacon, beer brined kraut, house made Surly Hell mustard, fresh house made artisan pretzel bun.

Busters on 28th “Red Curry Thai Peanut Burger”
Red curry, red and yellow pepper, red onion, and potato infused all-beef patty.  Topped off with a fried egg, crushed peanuts, cilantro, and a coconut peanut butter cream cheese.  On a toasted coconut bun.

FireLake“FireLake Bison Burger”
BBQ brisket ragù, bacon marmalade, ghost pepper cheese.

Twin Cities Burger Battle 2016 - St Paul Grill
St. Paul Grill – “River City Patty Melt”

St. Paul Grill “River City Patty Melt”
Bourbon Glazed Triple Prime Beef, Freewheeler dry apple cider infused Muenster Cheese, Makers Mark Aioli, Crispy Prosciutto, Spicy Apple Slaw, English Muffin Bread.

Tin Cup’s“Inside Out California Lucy”
American cheese, pickle and bacon stuffed burger topped with lettuce and tomato.

Pat’s Tap“Big Cheeseburger”
Peterson Grassfed Limousin Beef, Fried Cheddar, Heirloom Tomato, and Pickles

 

Twin Cities Burger Battle 2016 - B-52
B-52 Burgers and Brew – “Valhalla Burger”

B-52 Burgers and Brew“Valhalla Burger”
A signature garlic herb and au jus patty topped with prosciutto crudo, roasted red peppers, caramelized shallots, Swiss cheese, and a house roasted garlic aioli.

 

 

The Suburban“Chimento Burger”
Peterson Limousin Beef, St. Agnes Milk Bun, Chipotle Pimento Cheese, Honey Cured Bacon, Cajun Seasoning, Chipotle Mayo.

 

 

Twin Cities Burger Battle 2016 - BLVD
BLVD – “Royale with Cheese”

BLVD “Royale with Cheese”
Two burger patties, white American cheese, pickles, caramelized onions, frizzled onions, served on a bread smith pretzel bun.  Side of BLVD fries tossed in truffle oil and parmesan cheese. Served with a gorgonzola dipping sauce.

 

Casper and Runyon’s Nook“GFY Burger”
A one of a kind, hand pattied burger topped with our signature creamy velvet cheese, raw onion, and a special sauce that keeps this burger a classic.

5-8 Club“Candied Lucy”
Our special 5-8 burger blend, fresh and never frozen, stuffed with cheese and topped with candied bacon, pickles and onion straws on a bakery fresh bun.

Twin Cities Burger Battle 2016 - Rock Elm Tavern
Rock Elm Tavern – “Rock Elm Burger”

Rock Elm Tavern“Rock Elm Burger”
Candied Walnut Aioli, Montamore Cheese, Arugula, Roasted Mushrooms

Paddy Shack at Half Time Rec.“Paddy Melt”
10oz burger patty mixed with Irish blue cheese, and secret spices, thick cut bacon, red onion chutney and American cheese on Caraway rye toast.

7th Street Social“Burger Thyme”
Beef patty, bentos bacon, garlic, thyme, house cheese blend, mr. pickles.

Tilia“Gorgonzola Burger”
Bread and butter pickles, caramelized onion, and pan drippings mayo.

Strip Club“Loaded Burger Redux AKA Fantasy Burger”
Grassfed beef, white cheddar, chiffonade red leaf lettuce, sliced tomato, buttermilk onion ring and Fantasy Island dressing on a sesame milk bun.

Twin Cities Burger Battle 2016 - Meisters
Meister’s, Scandia – “The Cheese Curd Meister’s Burger”

Citizen Supper Club “Citizen Burger”
Grilled shallot, thyme infused burger, red wine butter, velvetta cheese, brioche bun.

Meister’s, Scandia“The Cheese Curd Meister’s Burger”
Certified Hereford ground beef patty with American cheese, bacon, fried onions.  Topped with hand battered cheese curds, all on a pretzel bun.

Red Cow“The Double Barrel Burger”
In House Ground Beef Patties, House Made American Cheese, Special Sauce, Wuollet Hamburger Bun.

Twin Cities Burger Battle 2016 - Red Cow
Red Cow – “The Double Barrel Burger”

Pub 819“The Bleu-Berry Burger”
Short rib patty, gorgonzola bleu cheese, port wine blueberry compote, red onions, arugula & brioche bun.

Peppers and Fries“The Bangkok Burger”
An all-American beef patty, cool cream cheese, house-made sweet Asian garlic sauce, creamy Sriracha coleslaw, and fresh jalapeno slices and cilantro on a buttered, toasted bun.

Twin Cities Burger Battle 2016 - Peppers and Fries
Peppers and Fries – “The Bangkok Burger”

I didn’t try all 25, but I did make a good dent in the list.  I had: My Burger, Freight House, St. Paul Grill, B-52, The Suburban, BLVD, 5-8 Club, Rock Elm Tavern, Paddy Shack, 7th Street Social, Tilia, Strip Club, Citizen Supper Club, Meiser’s, Red Cow, and Pepper’s and Fries.  FireLake ran out of burgers by the time I got to their booth, but they did give me a bowl of their BBQ brisket ragù topped with ghost pepper cheese, which was excellent.  I bet their burger was pretty good too…

My top four were as follows:
1) Red Cow – This burger the best flavor overall.  In order to try more restaurants, we ended up cutting the sliders in half, and upon cutting this burger, it completely fell apart.  It wasn’t elegant to look at, but it was sure delicious.

2) Peppers and Fries – There was a whole lot going on with this burger, but it all worked very well.  The Sriracha sauce added a nice bit of heat, while the coleslaw added a great crunch.  The bun that they used was nicely toasted, and had a generous amount of butter on it.

3) Tilia – The burger patty for this burger had a great flavor, and the gorgonzola on it paired well with the pickles on it.  It was just a great overall burger.

4) 5-8 Club – When going to the 5-8 Club, I have had some pretty mixed experiences.  I have been there on some great days, and on some pretty poor days.  Saturday, however, was a great day for them.   The burger had a great flavor, and was cooked perfectly.  The bacon on it was nice and crisp, and fairly thick-cut.  Everything worked well.

So enough about my opinions… who won?!

People’s Choice:
Third Place – Rock Elm
Second Place – Red Cow
First Place – Peppers and Fries

Judge’s Choice:
Third Place – 5-8 Club
Second Place – Peppers and Fries
First Place – Red Cow

I am pleased for the winners, but was a little surprised by Rock Elm placing third for People’s Choice; the burger that I had was kind of muddled, and the burger flavor was masked by everything else that was on it.  The mushrooms that they used left a gritty, dirty feel.  I was not impressed with it, though maybe I just got one from a bad batch.

If you would like to join me next year, let me know! It would be fun to have a whole group where we could try them all.