It was burgers galore last night at Scottsdale Stadium and although there wasn't a huge turnout for the Scottsdale Culinary Festival's very first Burger Battle it was a really fun (and filling) experience and the folks that did shell out the $55 for a ticket got their money's worth.
Zinburger, Modern Burger, LGO, Chelsea's Kitchen, The Capital Grille, RnR, El Hefe, Lenny's, Bueno Burger, Indulge, Old Town Whiskey, Bourbon Steak, and Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers all brought their best burgers out to compete for the title of "Best Burger". (More on that later.)
Brioche buns, thick cut tomatoes, and butter lettuce were aplenty and the alluring smell of Kobe beef (or the U.S. equivalent, anyway) cooking on the hot grills filled the cool night air as burger lovers made their way from tent to tent indulging in more bites of burgers than any sane person should ever eat in one evening while listening to live music from The Walken and drinking beers from an event sponsor, Leinenkugels.
Sam Fox's burger and wine bar, Zinburger, brought out their very best beef with savory Morel mushroom and a super soft toasted potato bun. And the house made Thousand Island really tied the whole thing together. This sucker was definitely a top contender in the battle to be the best.
Glendale's Bueno Burger slapped together their Arizona Burgers, which sounded interesting but fell short compared to the rest of the decadent offerings. The buns were too thick,the burgers were overcooked and dry, and the green chilis were overpowered by too much sour cream.
North Scottsdale's Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers, was making monster Steakhouse Truffle Burgers. They were so big, there was absolutely no way you could get all that meat, cheese, bun, caramelized onions, baby greens, and ripe tomato in your mouth at once -- but somehow I managed to do it (because I'm a professional fat kid). The burger was flavorful but there's such as thing as overdoing it and this guy just had too much stuff going on.
If there was a separate award for creativity, Indulge Burgers & More would take home the trophy. Somehow they made bacon, fried onions, and peanut butter sauce all work out wonderfully on top of a perfect medium rare burger and brioche bun.
The Capital Grille kept things simple with their Signature Cheeseburger -- a giant chopped sirloin patty blended with smoked bacon and sweet onions on a super soft onion roll and piled high with crisp lettuce and tomato.
Scottsdale's El Hefe Super Macho Tequeria won the People's Choice award for their signature Hefe Hamburguesa topped with grilled onions, jalapenos, and asadero cheese. It was a tasty burger but it was really greasy. In typical El Hefe style, they had a hot chick serving up the burgers (which made it a favorite spot for Scottsdale's male population).
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My absolute favorite of the night (and yes I tried all thirteen of 'em) was Old Town Whiskey's Kobe Beef Slider. The meat was so tender and the housemade brioche buns were soft but held up under the weight of the decadent ingredients. Bone marrow butter?! Oyster mushrooms?! That little burger was memorable and, even though I ate thirteen hamburgers yesterday, I would love to eat about four more of those.
There wasn't a bad bite in the house, even the worst burger of the night was still relatively good. I hope the Scottsdale Culinary Festival makes this event a new tradition, although I don't think I could manage to chow down on any more than thirteen different burgers in one night!
So who ended up winning? Zinburger took home the Judge's Choice and El Hefe took home the People's Choice Trophy (we'll go out on a small ledge and say that their burger server's "personality" scored that win).