Oct 242012

It’s no secret that my blogging significantly slowed down while planning the inaugural Best Memphis Burger Fest. I hate that I wasn’t getting much writing done, but putting on a festival is a lot of work. Much more than I ever anticipated. Ironically, while new entries on BestMemphisBurger.com were few and far between, my going out to eat increased significantly. It seemed like I was always meeting someone to talk about a sponsorship lead or getting together with committee members about something festival related. Even more frequently, Tim and I needed to take our discussions awake from our day job. Lunch was the perfect time, and many burgers were eaten during those months. Here’s a few notable ones that really stand out in memory.

This is the Fuel Cafe Veggie Burger. A true champion among veggie burgers and a solid challenger to most beef burgers in the city. If anyone says a better Memphis veggie burger exists, I think a cook-off is in order. Everything on the Fuel Cafe burger is fresh, tender and exploding with taste.

Not pictured here are the fries. If you went to Fuel for the fries alone, you’d be doing yourself a favor. Possibly the best fries in Memphis.

Shawn Danko at Kooky Canuck was a Best Memphis Burger Fest Sponsor. He sponsored the epic, Team Kookamonga Challenge that featured six teams of two eaters racing a 10 minute stop watch and each other to eat the most 7.5 lb Kookamonga Burger. This challenge was the icing on the inaugural Best Memphis Burger Fest cake. One of my meetings with Shawn occurred shortly after new items were added to the Kooky Canuck menu. His new Holy Smoke Burger beckoned me. I love hot and spicy food and this burger was what I craved. Let me tell you, from the fried jalapenos to the Holy Smoke sauce, I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed. Just awesome! It was crunchy, juicy, spicy and big! Big in taste and huge in flavor. I left with my lips burning and my stomach happy as can be.

The Slider Inn has come a long way in the year that its been open. Besides awarding them the title of Best Chili with Andy Wise, I’ve grown to love their burgers. I once wrote that I wasn’t horribly impressed by their sliders. All that has changed. The Slider Inn is now a contender, and in my opinion, you can’t beat those mushroom swiss sliders that pack a huge taste, are cooked perfectly to temperature and leave you very satisfied. Bourbon Mayo, ’nuff said!

During a Burger Fest interview with Jennifer Biggs, from the Commercial Appeal, I was told to try this new place on Madison called Mot & Ed’s. It’s located next to a closed up tattoo parlor on the corner of Madison and Cleveland. Tim and I went there a couple of times. The burger was good. Nothing amazing in my opinion and there was a weird stale taste to the fries. I didn’t care for them at all. The service was just slow. It was one woman taking orders, doing all the cooking and serving food. She was as nice as the day is long, but a 45 minute wait is just way too long for a just okay burger. I hope they make it, but unless they get some help in there I don’t expect them to last longer than Stuffy’s.

One day I found myself  at Huey’s on Madison to give ideas to a friend about putting together a team for the festival. I think it was right around the time that Huey’s won the Commercial Appeal’s Memphis Most voting and we wanted to check out their burgers once again.

I’ll go on record right now and say that the Blues 57 Burger at Huey’s Midtown was ridiculously delicious. The burger was cooked perfectly medium and was as juicy as it was bursting with flavor. The 57 sauce, bleu cheese crumbles and fried onion straws gave this burger so much texture. That’s the burger I’m talking about; the kind I used to get at Huey’s in the 90’s – A total winner! I put away every bite. Nice Job Huey’s.

Leading up to the festival, one meeting took us over to Cafe Eclectic for their Texas Burger special. I remember it having the same buttery Claybrook Farms beef that I’ve been loving since my first Eclectic burger back in June. I also recall enjoying the freshly pickled jalapenos and their Texas style BBQ sauce. As tasty as it was, my favorite Eclectic Burger remains the Pub Burger off the menu.

Congrats BTW to Cafe Eclectic who entered Burger Fest and placed second in the Veggie Burger category and turned in a magnificent looking Boss Burger for the Extreme category.

As if I hadn’t eaten enough burgers as of late, my wife and kids all wanted Uncle Lou’s. You never ever have to ask me twice to make that trip. You say Uncle Lou’s and besides a small bead of drool forming on the side of my mouth, I’m digging for my keys to warm up the car. I know I can get a burger or fried chicken and be happier than a pig in… mud. I love Gus’s just like everyone else, but if you’ve never had Uncle Lou’s Sweet & Spicy Love dipped chicken, you can’t say Gus’s is the best ever. Plus Uncle Lou’s sides are awesome too. Better than the side item at Gus’s.

Uncle Lou’s Burgers are pretty off the charts as well. They’re a 1/3 lb black angus patty  that’s cooked on a flat top and seasoned generously with his homemade Corruption seasoning. The stuff is pretty amazing and once you’ve had it, mmm hmmm you’re corrupted! During this particular outing my 9 year old convinced me I needed a double burger. Wow! Talk about a lot of food. I felt the meat wall coming and then my wife asked if I wanted her chicken wings. For a minute, I thought she wanted to kill me. It all worked out perfectly though as my wife had more chicken than she could eat and I had an ungodly amount of burger. We finished off eat other’s plates and smiled the whole way home. Always great food at Uncle Lou’s.

One of my favorite burgers in town has always been the Greek Burger at Alex’s Tavern. Rocky and Andy have both been so great to me and my family and accommodating to my friends. They even hosted a Cooks meeting prior to Burger Fest and was a silent sponsor of all my VIP area food.

It was one afternoon during late July that I was celebrating the first anniversary of the Best Memphis Burger site with a burger from Alex’s. Andy who was cooking that afternoon asked me if he could doctor it up a little for me. “Um, yeah!”, I replied, knowing that it would be good. Turns out, it was just plain awesome. It was the usual Greek Burger with sauteed mushrooms and onions topped lettuce and tomato. I think I took the lettuce off knowing it was would have made everything slide around too much. It was a great burger and the PBR that day was exceptionally cold. Best lunch in a long time.

Okay so check this one out. Prior to Burger Fest, I kind of had a bug up my ass about only supporting local restaurants and staying away from chains. Well one of the Burger Fest teams was BGR The Burger Joint. They’re a national chain with local franchise owners. The Brand owner, Mark Bucher came all the way down to Memphis to compete with his franchise owner and guess what, they almost won the whole damn thing. BGR was .58 points away from winning the Burger Fest Grand Champion title. They settled for second place this year, but I’m sure we’ll see them again next fall.

BGR’s signature burger is the Wellington. It’s served with roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic with a touch of mustard seed and blue cheese all atop a fresh, buttery-toasted brioche bun with BGR’s signature mojo sauce. I finally got to try one at Burger Fest and it knocked my socks off. Holy cow! What an amazing burger! As good as all the fluff topping were, the meat was seasoned with something that was just shy of perfection. Of course Mark laughed when I asked what was in his seasoning. A couple of weeks later my wife and I took the boys and headed to BGR for a Saturday evening dinner. We both ordered Wellington Burgers and got some sliders for the kids. The Wellington was really good once again, completely living up to the festival day where I had my first. I loved the salty fries too. If you haven’t been to BGR, you should check them out. It’s well worth the price and the drive to East Memphis.

So with the Festival finally in the books, everyone paid up, thank you notes sent and some real good money raised for Spay & Neuter, Tim and I headed over to Sweden Kream for a couple of Double Burger Combos and some shakes. On this day my Sweden Kream Double had grilled onion, pickled jalapeno, pickles, mayo, ketchup and cheese and was just as good as any greasy spoon burger that I’ve had in long time. That includes the Uptown Combo at Roxie’s Grocery. What took this burger to an entirely different level of awesomeness though was the creamy and very thick chocolate shake I got to accompany it. There’s no doubt that Tim and I both made a pigs of ourselves that day, but wow was it it good and worth it.

Normally I don’t post about burgers or dishes I cook myself because there’s no opportunity for you to go try it out. This one however is just plain pretty. It looked too good not to share. It tasted pretty bad ass too. It was an EVOO and Cavendars marinated and grilled portabella mushroom cap topped with melted pepper-jack cheese, grilled eggplant slices, sauteed red onion, sauteed fresh jalapeno and finished with tomato, pickle slices and a dab of mayo. All the flavor was right there, but the taste of the eggplant wasn’t very distinguishable. I also think the texture of the burger could have been more interesting. Next time I plan to add fried onion straws or crumbled chips. Over all a great first Veggie Burger attempt that I look forward to experimenting with more in the near future.

There are plenty of new burgers on the radar so keep looking for more new posts and some rewrites of old one’s.

If you have a favorite burger that you think is Memphis’ best and should be reviewed on Best Memphis Burger, please drop a note in the suggestion box. If you’re interested in guest posting your favorite burger, send an email and let us know why.

Fuel Cafe on Urbanspoon

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