Burger Friday #10 – Bareburger – Great Neck, NY

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Bareburger – Great Neck, NY – We are running out of burger places in the area. SO after seeing some delicious pictures of burgers from Bareburger on Instagram, we decided to make the trek. After driving past the place a bunch of times, we arrived. Parking in Great Neck kind of sucks too. There are also one million frozen yogurt places. Anyway, Bareburger prides themselves on offering all organic meats, buns, sides, etc. They place a strong emphasis on the quality of their food, and it shows. Check out this weeks podcast for all of your spoken burger action. Don’t forget to rate and review on iTunes!

Listen here for this week’s episode:

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“Juba I’m taking a picture of you.”

Bareburger was pretty cool looking on the inside. It was very open, and had some weird bear-related art on the walls. The tables were finished slabs of wood, which was also pretty cool. Water came out in a fancy bottle, and I’m surprised we didn’t get charged extra for it. Bareburger has a minimal staff, they take the order on an iPod touch, and then have a few people running food to tables. The menu is pretty extensive, they have vegan and vegetarian options, standard burgers and chicken, as well as more exotic and uncommon game meats (wild boar, bison, lamb, ostrich). If you want to check out the huge menu, do so here: Bareburger Menu

"No, he wants the 25oz."

“No, he wants the 25oz.”

After much debate about what kind of bacon to get (country vs. thick cut…more on that later) we placed our orders. The burger concoctions they had on the menu all sounded good, or you could build your own burger. I (Ed) went with the Western (smoked mozzarella | country bacon | house-made Carolina slaw | smokehouse sauce| topped with crispy spicy pickle spear) with bison as the meat. J got the Big Blue Bacon (Wisconsin blue | country bacon | sautéed mushrooms | fried onions | bacon marmalade), also with bison. Dom and Juba both built their own burgers. Fries were done communal style, but SOME OF US don’t like sharing. It took a while to order, but once the order was placed, the food came out quick. They also had their own house-made sodas which were really good. We would recommend the Root Beer or the Cola.

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On the menu, it’s stated that the burgers are 6oz. This is a pretty ideal size for a burger – not too big, but bigger than your standard 1/4lb. burger. There were plenty of toppings to make up for any shortcomings in burger size. HOWEVER…we were all lead to believe that the thick cut bacon would be a delicious add on to our burgers. It was unanimously decided that this was not the case. The bacon was not cooked down, and could have benefitted from some additional fat rendering. At first bite, the bacon was removed from all of our burgers. Some opted to eat it as a side, others didn’t. It definitely wasn’t worth the upcharge – so be aware. If you want thick cut bacon done right, see Perabell Food Bar.

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Dat sauce doe. This habanero chipotle mayo sauce was pretty awesome with both fries and burger. The curried ketchup was definitely not. It was kind of fucked up.

The burgers were all enjoyed, minus the bacon shortcomings. The bison was cooked to a perfect medium – making for a juicy and flavorful burger. The lean nature of bison meat is easy to overcook, but the way they prepared it was spot on. The bison adds a slight gameyness that adds, rather than subtracts to the burger. The bacon marmalade on the Bacon Blue was great, and the deep fried pickle on top of the Western was a delicious pre-burger snack. The homemade slaw on the western was also great. The cheese game was slightly off, either not enough cheese, or not enough flavor. The smoked mozzarella went completely unnoticed. We prefer a saltier, meltier cheese for our burgers here at Burger Friday. For a more in-depth discussion on the individual burgers, check out the podcast.

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The Western at Bareburger – complete with spicy fried pickle spear on top.

Check out the Burger Hierarchy rankings and see how Bareburger was placed in the list. Overall, Bareburger was an enjoyable experience. We would not recommend the thick cut bacon though. The menu is extensive enough and the build-a-burger section adds practically infinite combinations. This is somewhere you can do, and everyone in your party can find something to eat. Bareburger can get a bit pricey though if you go overboard with toppings or bacon.

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Big Blue Bacon Burger – alliteration at it’s tastiest.

Don’t forget to check out the podcast, and hit the iTunes link in the sidebar to subscribe! If you want real-time burger news – check out the Instagram page every Friday night for live burger action.

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Burger Friday #9 – RS Jones – Merrick, NY

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R.S. Jones – Merrick, NY – So this week we ventured to the restaurant belonging to a family friend, RS Jones in Merrick, NY. This week we came up Juba-less, and our special “guest” Tom Napolitano came with us again. The restaurant is a Southwest styled bar/restaurant with an inviting atmosphere. There’s tons of stuff on the walls, and you could literally spend all day looking at all of the southwestern-related stuff. R.S. Jones recently debuted the RS Burger, the only one on the menu, and we came out to try it.

Listen here for this week’s episode:

Coolest. Giftcard. Ever.

Coolest. Giftcard. Ever.

Being Friday night, the restaurant was packed, like any good restaurant should be. Upon walking in the back, we made our way to the front to wait to be seated. Turns out there was zero wait, and we were ushered to a round table in the back. The hostess was friendly and welcoming, and called us out on all looking too serious. If this is an indication of anything, it’s that we don’t mess around on Burger Friday. Water and drinks came to the table in mason jar glasses, and they left the pitcher of water at the table. So far, so good. Also, automatic chips and a bean-based salsa. That was gone pretty fast.

After getting the thorough rundown on today’s specials (and feeling bad because we all knew we were getting the burger) – we all ordered the burger. There was a debate on appetizers, but when we saw a burger being brought to another table that looked humungous, we opted to wait. All of us ordered our burgers to varying degrees of done-ness and waited for them to come out.

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When the burgers came out – first thought: these are huge. The patty was 12oz. 12. That’s 3/4 of a pound of just meat. Adding the Kaiser roll bun, lettuce, pickles, onions and the side it came with, everyone was leaving at LEAST a pound heavier. The RSJ Burger includes: 2oz fresh ground beef, seasoned with their six shooter sauce, served on a bun with melted white cheddar cheese, lettuce, red onion, pickles, sweet potato fries and habañero-ketchup. Upon getting into our burgers, it was hard to discern the difference between Tom’s medium-rare and Dom’s medium-well. The burger is loosely packed and the six-shooter sauce gives some flavor to the meat. The cheese is melted on the buns, but in our crew, we like the cheese melted on the meat.

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While being big, the unanimous decision was that the burger could have used some tweaking. The 12oz patty is huge, but if it were a bit smaller, it may be easier to dial in the degree of done-ness that the burger is much easier. We all agreed that there was something missing about the burger as well. Perabell Food Bar’s secret ingredient to everything (including the macaroni and cheese) is bacon. Now I don’t think baconing your way out of every situation is going to work, but maybe some sort of southwestern special sauce?

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The RSJ Burger comes with sweet potato fries by default, but you can swap that out for mac n cheese or garlic mashed potatoes. Tom and I got the sweet potato fries, and Dom and J got the mac. The sweet potato fries were good – not too soggy, good amount of crisp and not overly salty. The macaroni and cheese was also good too. It was a standard home-made style mac and cheese with a blanket of melted cheddar(?) on top. They also brought an order of collard greens to the table, but we weren’t quite sure what to do with them.

Overall, the RSJ Burger was not bad, falling in the middle of the rankings. The thing is, that all of the food coming out of the kitchen looked great, and there’s potential for the burger to be up there. It was agreed upon that we’d all go back, but for some southwest style food as opposed to the burger. The RSJ Burger is still a new menu item and we agree that it could use some southwesting. Maybe a chipotle aioli, some fried jalepeno slices, some sort of bacon, mix some chorizo into the patty? We’d definitely recommend going there, but maybe get one of the great sounding specials or something southwestern.

Check out the Burger Hierarchy rankings and see how R.S. Jones was placed in the list.

Don’t forget to check out the podcast, and hit the iTunes link in the sidebar to subscribe! If you want real-time burger news – check out the Instagram page every Friday night for live burger action.

Burger Friday #8 – Bobby’s Burger Palace – Garden City, NY

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Bobby’s Burger Palace (Garden City, NY) – one of the first Burger Friday outings, this place held a top spot amongst the entire crew. This is unfortunately no more. We decided to go back to Bobby’s Burger Palace to give it another try now that we are over 15 weeks into our burger journey. After last week, at Snaps American Bistro, we all came to the conclusion that their burgers were reminiscent of our highly-regarded Burger Palace. Listen to this weeks podcast, featuring our buddy Tom Napolitano.

Listen here for this week’s episode: 

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It was nice knowing what we were getting into with the seating. Man, the seating here is bad and awkward. Here’s a tip: don’t bring a date unless you want to sit in very close proximity to complete strangers. Maybe go here if you want to meet people and/or you’re a weirdo who likes sitting close to strangers. Luckily, it wasn’t too busy and we got some semi-normal seating. You see that squiggle up there? That’s the shape of the table. Not tables….table. There’s one long-ass table that everyone has to sit at that’s all curvy. It’s not ideal. You order at the counter, and the food is brought out to you. First up, shakes.

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I opted for the coffee shake. I love coffee, I like shakes. This fit the bill. It was much better than the shake at Shake Shack for two reasons. One: it had bits of real coffee beans in there. Two: it didn’t cost more than the other shakes. Good consistency, nice wide straws, and an overall delicious shake. Bobby’s still has some of the best shakes out there, we’d definitely recommend getting one with your meal. Shortly after the shakes, came the burgers and fries.

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The LA Burger – guacamole, cheese, tomato, some weird plant on a heavily seeded bun.

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Standard fries – hand cut, salty. They’re pretty good. They come with a cajun style remoulade sauce that would be right at home on top of some crab cakes.

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The Santa Fe Burger – spicy queso, blue corn tortillas, pickled jalepenos on a bun. Presentation was slacking here.

Honestly, no one really loved their burger. Maybe we were naive in the beginning of our journey, maybe it was an off night, or maybe there are just much better burgers out there? Either way, the burgers fell flat for all of us and Bobby’s Burger Palace took a bump down in the rankings. Surprisingly, after letting Snaps Bistro sink in, most of us moved it up in the rankings.

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Burger of the Month – The Cheyenne Burger – BBQ sauce, cheddar, bacon, and onion straws (J got rid of his).

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Sweet Potato fries – they come with an awesome horseradish honey mustard.

Bobby’s Burger Palace is by no means bad, and we would definitely go back. This week was pretty eye-opening and a burger that ranked as high up as #2 has taken a pretty severe dip in popularity amongst our group.

Check out the Burger Hierarchy rankings and see how Bobby’s Burger Palace moved down the list.

Don’t forget to check out the podcast, and hit the iTunes link in the sidebar to subscribe! If you want real-time burger news – check out the Instagram page every Friday night for live burger action.

Burger Friday #7 – Snaps American Bistro – Wantagh, NY

Snaps American Bistro Wantagh

Snaps American Bistro (Wantagh, NY) – highly recommended by a few friends, and glowing reviews on Yelp, we ventured out to Snaps American Bistro – located right off Sunrise Highway in Wantagh. They have a pretty extensive burger section on the menu, surrounded by other great sounding menu items. This was also a special episode of Burger Friday…it was my 25th birthday. The place was packed at 8 o’clock on Friday night, but the wait was only a few minutes. It was really hard for the Burger Friday crew to settle on a choice. We placed our orders, I got the Cowboy Burger, J got the Mac truck, Juba got the Godfather, and Dom pulled the old switcharoo, changing his order from the Flatliner to the Mac Truck at the last second. The burger order was placed, and so started the waiting game.

Listen here for this week’s episode: 

Snaps American Bistro Wantagh

Glasses with shifty eyes…

Our server was friendly, and totally felt bad that the food was taking so long to come out. There was a moment where Dom said that the waitress was going to get “quarters” instead of “waters” and it was quite funny. I guess you had to be there. It was funny. It took nearly 50 minutes for all four burgers to come out, and there were several things that fell short for us. The first thing we all noticed was the size of the burger. Portions here are pretty small, especially for the price tag. The burgers on the menu ranged from $15 for the basic, bare-bones offering, to $24 burgers, topped with lobster salad. The waitress had talked up a big game about how large they were. The smaller size, coupled with the wait time lead us to be a bit let down. I had just had ‘The Champ’ burger from Perabell Food Bar the night before – which was easily double the size.

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The Cowboy Burger – patty, bacon avocado ranch, smoked gouda, bourbon onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato on a heavily sesame seeded bun.

The issue with Snaps that we all had was more of the experience than the flavor of the burger. The flavor profiles of the different burgers we got were all great. I loved the bourbon onions on top of mine, and they really worked with the smoked gouda. The Mac Truck, covered in pepperjack macaroni and cheese looked insane. Upon biting into the burger, we all noticed that the medium-well was nearing hockey puck status.

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Cross section – no pinkness here. The burger was definitely a bit overcooked, especially for medium-well…

They were all on the upper end of well done, which took away from the juiciness of the burger. There was a good smoke flavor to the meat itself, but it wasn’t enough to carry the burgers high into the rankings.

The Mac Truck – pepperjack mac n cheese, tomatoes, pickles, bacon, lettuce.

The fries were pretty tasty – but fell flat in many areas as well. This seems to be the theme of the meal. Tasty, but something didn’t work. The fries were parmesan, truffle oil, herb fries – served in a small cup alongside the burger. There weren’t many in there, but they were flavorful. Juba particularly enjoyed them, but the rest of us thought they were alright. I think we all agreed that there could have been more on the plate.

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Overall, the price, the wait time, and the size of the meal wasn’t enough to make these burgers great. The flavor was there, there were just too many negatives overpowering the good that was there. Personally, I would go back to Snaps and give them another try. It could have been an off night, and all the reviews on Yelp make me think that may be the case.

The Godfather - prosciutto, salami, peppers, provolone all on a sesame seeded bun.

The Godfather – prosciutto, salami, peppers, provolone all on a sesame seeded bun.

Snaps landed pretty pretty much in the middle of all of the Burger Hierarchy rankings. There were some positives, but ultimately the price:size of meal ratio was off for most of us. We had to go get some ice cream after due to hunger. Try out Snaps if you want something on the smaller side, or order an appetizer or two for the table.

Smoked gouda, bourbon onion shot.

Smoked gouda, bourbon onion shot.

Don’t forget to check out the podcast, and hit the iTunes link in the sidebar to subscribe! If you want real-time burger news – check out the Instagram page every Friday night for live burger action.

Burger Friday #6 – Jake’s Wayback Burger – Various Locations

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Jake’s Wayback Burger (East Meadow, NY) – This is going to be a rough one. We had been planning on going to Jake’s Wayback burger for a while now, but others kept sneaking in front of it in line. Maybe the universe was trying to look out for us? The place is nestled into a shopping center on Hempstead Turnpike, and is relatively unassuming. They make the claim of having the “best burger under the bun”. Claiming you are the best at something automatically raises expectations, and like most “best” places, Jake’s Wayback fell a bit short for everyone. Check out the podcast for some more in-depth discussion and thoughts!

Listen here for this week’s episode:
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The shake was first to come out and there were some ice chunks in there. The service was pretty standard – order at the counter and they bring you your food. The ambiance in here is a bit weird, the lighting is kind of dim – but it’s definitely not meant to be mood lighting. After ordering my food, I immediately noticed that it smelled kind of off inside the restaurant. After some deliberation with the rest of the crew, we determined it’s the smell of old grease! Yes, old grease! It smelled like the fryer desperately needed some fresh oil and the flat top was begging for a thorough scrape down. Worst part about it is that the taste of the old oil definitely carried over to my onion rings. In the picture below, note the half green tomato. What I wouldn’t do for some Shake Shack tomatoes right about now.
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The burger didn’t look bad, but it left a lot to be desired. With an open kitchen that everyone can see, we noticed that they do the smash on the grill technique. This is by far our favorite way to eat a burger. The smashing of the burger ensures complete contact with the hot griddle. The sear that occurs browns the outside of the meat, forming a desirable crust that keeps moisture and flavor inside the patty. While the burgers appeared to be smashed, they didn’t have any of that great texture or juiciness that comes with a smashed burger. Jake’s Wayback burgers tasted mostly like Steak-Umms. If you haven’t had Steak-Umms before, they’re pretty much the cheapest and greasiest slices of frozen “meat” you can get. While totally fine for a half-assed cheese steak at home, the flavor is unacceptable for a burger.

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You can see that the burger leaves a ton of grease on the bottom bun. Three of us were left with a nearly transparent bottom bun (not even kidding) by the end of the meal. The burger itself was crumbly in texture, and fell short for everyone. With the greasy burgers (and not in a good way), chunks of ice in the shake, mediocre fries, terrible onion rings (I threw more than half of them out – grease bombs full of dirty fryer taste), and odorous dining area, Jake’s Wayback sits pretty close to the bottom on all of our lists.
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Under my burger you’ll see some “special sauce”. Overall consensus is that it was pretty much brown mustard that’s been messed with. It was tangy and smelled like pennies. I wasn’t really feeling the sauce with onion rings or fries. J was the only one to get the cheese fries. He enjoyed them, but when the cheese ran out and the bottom layers of fries were reached, he quickly lost interest.

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Jake’s Wayback is pretty close to the bottom on all of the Burger Hierarchy rankings. While it’s possible they were having an off day, none of us agreed that we would go back and give it another try. Check out the rankings, and listen to the podcast for the heated discussion.

Don’t forget to check out the podcast, and hit the iTunes link in the sidebar to subscribe! If you want real-time burger news – check out the Instagram page every Friday night for live burger action.

Burger Friday #5 – All American Drive-In – Massapequa, NY

All American Drive-In Massapequa

Here is this weeks podcast about All American Drive-In:

All American Drive-In (Massapequa, NY) – It’s pretty much achieved legendary status here on Long Island. Frequented by Jerry Seinfeld (it’s in his home town) and thousands of people across the island, this is a great place to get some classic American fast food style burgers. There’s nothing gourmet about All American, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t damn tasty. The entire menu is printed on the cup (giving you a basic idea of how small their offerings are) and the whole place is a walk-up counter. There’s no seating inside – only a few outdoor tables and benches. In  true drive-in spirit, the lack of seating isn’t surprising.
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The food is quick to come out of the window, and the taste can be described as a McDonald’s without all the chemicals and preservatives. The burgers come off the grill nice and fresh, kept warm in a tinfoil pouch. The “Double Double” was the main course for the Burger Friday crew – consisting of two patties, two slices of cheese, tiny diced onions, pickles and ketchup. Fries are crispy and fresh, and a step above your standard fast food fry. While we haven’t gone to the big fast food chains for Burger Friday, this is probably the closest we’ll get to them.
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Two Double Doubles, fries and a large Coke comes out to a little over $8.00, which is pretty incredible for the amount of food you get. Everyone left with a full stomach and a full wallet. The burger is substantial, and has a familiar taste – it’s like McDonald’s grew up and left out the chemicals. I’ve also heard the burger as being “giant Whitecastle”, probably due to the fact that the burgers are grilled at the same time with the diced onions. The burgers were good and cheap, and we really can’t ask for too much more from a  true fast food joint.
All American Drive-In Massapequa
This post is high on pictures, and lower on writing. There’s not too much depth to the food, and the menu is basic – but they’ve been doing fast food burgers right for over 50 years, leaving everything unchanged since it’s opening in 1963. After some quick research, the original signage from the 60s is still up to this day. The focus at All American is on fresh, high quality food, at a great price. McDonald’s pushes how fresh their food is, but it’s hard to believe. When All American says their food is fresh, you can taste it.
All American Drive-In Massapequa
Another thing I really love about All American is the branding. It’s classic, vintage style, and pro-American. Little details like this add to the experience at All American, and it really helps transport you back in time to the early days of fast food.
All American Drive-In Massapequa
All American Drive-In falls pretty much in the middle of the Burger Hierarchy rankings. It was a little tough to place at first due to the different style of burger. This is the first true fast food style burger we have tried, but we all enjoyed it and would definitely go back.
All American Drive-In Massapequa
Don’t forget to check out the podcast, and hit the iTunes link in the sidebar to subscribe! If you want real-time burger news – check out the Instagram page every Friday night for live burger action.

Burger Friday #4 – PeraBell Food Bar – Patchogue, NY

Perabell Food Bar 1

Here is this weeks podcast about PeraBell Food Bar:

PeraBell Food Bar (Patchogue, NY) – the winner of the best burger on Long Island. We visited this restaurant after being declared champion at Long Island’s Battle of the Burger. Now, none of us attended the contest (and failed at being burger enthusiasts) due to overall busy-ness, but we totally get why this burger won. This post is light on pictures because the restaurant was high on ambient lighting. Whatchu know about candle lit burger outings?! Onto the burger. The winner of the contest, the aptly-named “Champ” burger consists of: 10oz chopped patty, thick cut smoked bacon, white cheddar cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and special sauce all on a pillowy sesame seed bun. The burgers are served with fries, coleslaw and a pickle.

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Everyone got “The Champ” except for Juba, who opted to customize a burger. This isn’t strictly a burger joint, as the menu has tons of other food on it (including the best baked macaroni and cheese appetizer in the world) and they only take up one small corner with their burger offering. It’s the same 10oz patty, with several cheeses (including fresh mozzarella), bacon, avocado, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms and some other standard burger toppings. They really didn’t need an entire menu with pre-made combos because you definitely make do with what they have to offer.

The service was good, our party of six got seated really quickly and food was on the table before we knew it. We ordered two baked mac n’ cheeses for the table. HOLY CRAP. Best macaroni and cheese most of us have ever had. There was definitely some thick cut bacon in there too. The four cheeses were perfectly blended – a mix of creamy and cheesy that worked perfectly. There was a nice golden brown bread crumb crust on top of the macaroni that helped break up the richness of the cheese and bacon. There were also some chives floating around in there which added a welcome break from the heavier flavors of smokey bacon and cheese. If the appetizer was indicative of the burger to come, we were in good shape.

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When the burger arrived, we were all kind of in shock at how huge they really were. The patty was damn near an inch thick, made up of loosely packed chopped meat. The burgers were cooked to a perfect medium – not too bloody, and not even close to a hockey puck. The thick cut bacon was surprisingly tender, but it did overpower the flavor of the actual burger patty slightly. After half of my burger, I took off the bacon to eat later. For a non-smashed burger (the general consensus is that a smashed burger is the best burger amongst our group) the flavor was great. It was big, satisfying, and tasty. I’m trying to relive the burger as I type this, and it’s making me hungry. For a restaurant/pub style burger, PeraBell Food Bar really hit the nail on the head.

PeraBell’s burger was a huge change to the Burger Hierarchy rankings, but head over there to find out where exactly it sits. Don’t forget to check out the podcast, and hit the iTunes link in the sidebar to subscribe! If you want real-time burger news – check out the Instagram page every Friday night for live burger action.