After a rain-soaked finish at last year's event, Mother Nature played nice this year with fair weather and a full moon. Hundreds of burger enthusiasts made their way to Sanborn Square in Boca Raton to experience the third-annual Boca Burger Battle, a melee of burger-fiefs that pits restaurant against restaurant, chef against chef. In reality, it's not quite that bloodthirsty, but the participating vendors did pull out all the stops to show the people of southern Palm Beach County a thing or two about burgers.
As smoke filled the air from the dozens of flaming grills, hungry attendees wandered from restaurant tent to restaurant tent, queuing up for the next hot-off-the-grill hamburger.
Boca Raton icon Morton's, the Steakhouse quartered up massive USDA Prime ground beef patties loaded with blue cheese, mushrooms, and caramelized onions, while nearby contenders 13 American Table put out a burger composed of short rib, chuck, and brisket topped with cheddar and bacon. Drool-worthy.
Newbie bar and grill Cuthill's, which opened last month on east Spanish River Boulevard, came to the table with, in our opinion, one of the best-balanced burgers of the competition. It was a simple slider that showcased the flavor of the meat while adding a good earthiness and kick from a topping of British Stilton cheese and a port wine reduction.
"We've had a lot of people come back for seconds," Cuthill's executive chef, Ray Martin, told us. "I like to have [a burger] that's straight-forward... More complicated and you can't distinguish the individual flavors."
Some of the odder items being presented were a deep-fried burger by Potions in Motion (which, of course, the batter became the bun) and from newly opened Meat Eatery and Taproom in Boca Raton, a chorizo slider with kimchi aioli. Both were intriguing takes on the classic burger and a welcome change from the standard chuck/cheese/bun.
In addition to all of this meat, there luckily was some craft beer. Compared to last year, the selection was good. In fact, I'd say it was a huge step up from what was available at the previous event. Leading the charge were local favorites Saltwater Brewery and the Mack House, while breweries like New Belgium, Lagunitas, and Sweetwater came in to showcase their wares. I was surprised by the random jockey box pouring both Shock Top and a selection of Big Storm beers. Talk about strange neighbors.
In the end, this was indeed a competition, and a new king of burgers was crowned. As you've read from the title, the winners of the Best Grill Master were Delray Beach's Salt7, who luckily did not pull a Scipio Aemilanus. Its winning burger (pictured before the jump) will soon be available at the downtown establishment.
Community Chip Tally (People's Choice)
Best Alternative Burger