Even since man first decided to place charred meat between two slices of bread, humanity has been on a quest for Burger Nirvana. This heightened state of carnivorous awareness is the fuel behind the Riverwalk Burger Battle, which took place on Friday, May 8, 2015.
On the lush field that is Huizenga Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale, hundreds of hungry foodies gathered to sample the wares of sixteen of South Florida’s finest eateries.
The BBVI CONTENDERS included 2014 Champion American Social, B. Bar & Grille, Beauty & the Feast, Big Bear Brewing Company, Big City Tavern, Bokampers Sports Bar & Grill , Frankey’s Sports Bar, Georgie’s Alibi, Grill Republic, Gulfstream Park, MEAT Eatery and Taproom Boca, Mind Your Manors, Rivals Waterfront Sports Grille, Shooters Waterfront, Timpano Italian Chophouse, and Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox.
The smoke filled air even attracted a small contingent of forces from the USS Wasp, in town for Fleet Week at Port Everglades.
The burger competitors were fighting to tempt the taste buds of two judging panels; one panel of professional chefs and another of local food bloggers. The professional judges included Chef Asher Roebuck, Chef Tara Abrams, Chef Allen, Chef Tony, and Chef Bret. The “media foodie” judges included Mixologista – Renee Korbel Quinn, coordinator, Big Mouth Girlz – Katrina & Aaron, Examiner– Adam Sinclair, South Florida Food & Wine – Christine Najac and CleanPlateCharlie – Nicole Danna.
Burger cooks were also trying to impress the other hungry battle fans, each of which who possessed a small chip to place in the box of their favorite booth. For nearly three hours, the crowd devoured the miniature burgers, and imbibed on some of the finest spirits in Broward County.
The assembled crowd had to survive a Florida downpour, and their ingenuity in hiding under every tent, table, and tree proved to be almost as entertaining as some of the antics of the chefs on hand. Luckily, the shower passed, and the eating continued.
Finally, at a little before 9:30 p.m. local time, the winners were announced:
- Fan Favorite winner – Tucker Dukes Lunchbox
- Media Foodie choice winner – American Social
- 2nd-Tucker Dukes Lunchbox
- Grill Republic, Big City & MEAT Eatery & Taproom
Judges /BEST BURGER WINNER:
- Tucker Duke Lunchbox – best burger joint burger
- American Social won Best Bar & Grill Burger (2nd place)
- Big City Tavern (Third Place)
- Shooters won best Knife & Fork Burger
With two wins on the night, Tucker Duke’s was the big winner of the night. However, last year’s overall winner, American Social, pulled off the foodie award and Best Bar & Grill Burger, so they can safely claim that they are repeat champions!
Each burger master put their own spin on the classic beef sandwich, but in this “media foodie’s” opinion, none reached the Burger Nirvana threshold. Still, each one provided at least a little of the meaty goodness than you come to expect in a decent burger. For my money, the overall winner is Georgie’s Alibi, whose sweet slaw covered burger with a Thai Tea chaser offered up a unique, memorable tasting experience.
Be sure to follow the Riverwalk Burger Battle on Facebook for updates throughout the year. With less than 365 days until the next burger battle, you’ll have plenty of time to work up an appetite!