On Thursday night, Valley food lovers headed to the stylish Hotel Valley Ho for the Scottsdale Culinary Festival's annual Burger Battle. Unlike some of the festival's more upscale events, the Burger Battle offers event-goers a relaxed atmosphere -- and as many burgers and sliders as you can eat in three hours.
With 14 restaurants competing for the title of Best Burger in the Valley this year, there was certainly no shortage of ground beef and buns. We helped judge this year's competition, along with fellow judges: chefs Robert DeSantis and Jaime Palenque, former Arizona Diamondback Luis "Gonzo" Gonzalez, and Ellie and Jake Leinenkugel. Here are the results.
See also: 10 Best Burgers in Metro Phoenix
First Place, Judge's Choice: Hopdoddy Burger Bar
For the second year in a row, Austin-based Hopdoddy Burger Bar took home the top prize in the burger competition. We appreciated the relative simplicity of the burger, which featured an Akaushi burger patty topped with Brie cheese, truffle aioli, arugula, caramelized onions, and steak sauce. Though it wasn't the most inventive burger of the night, Hopdoddy put out a solid, elevated burger that was neither over the top, nor boring.
Second Place, Judge's Choice: Zinburger
Zinburger's take on a classic reuben won our vote for flavor. With a high quality Snake River Farms Kobe beer patty serving as a base, this burger started strong. Toppings including pastrami, shredded cabbage, and a pickle boosted the mix, and a spicy stone ground mustard delivered just the right amount of kick.
Third Place, Judge's Choice: ZuZu
ZuZu at the Hotel Valley Ho offered a sweet and savory Gala Burger that featured freshly ground chuck, menage cheese, and bacon-Gala apple jam. With just these three elements, ZuZu created a nice balance of flavors that still showcased the quality of the burger patty.
People's Choice winners:
First Place -- Aioli Burger
Signature Italiano Slider: Slider with fresh mozzarella, tomato, balsamic reduction, crispy panchetta, and basil garlic aioli
Second Place -- ZuZu
Third Place -- Bootleggers
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Bootastic Burger: Special house grind, smoked bacon and onion jam, artisanal American cheese, dill pickles, secret sauce, on Chompie's rye bread