In May, Broward County's best-known burger throwdown — the Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale Burger Battle — is returning for its seventh year to the city's Huizenga Park. The event will pit 16 of South Florida's best restaurants against one another as they compete along the scenic New River for the title of Best Burger.
As always, the battle will include an evening of cocktails, beer, live music, and — best of all — food.
In addition to the unlimited burger tasting, all eventgoers will be treated to a French-fry bar as well as three drink tickets to find the perfect liquor or craft-brew pairing for their burgers.
A panel of judges will rate the burgers on texture, flavor, use of condiments, bread selection, and unique touches. Some distinctive ingredients from last year include maple-infused jalapeño jam, sweet onion marmalade, and avocado mousse.
Even if it doesn't win the title of the Best Burger of the battle, each restaurant will also be competing for the titles of Fan Favorite, Burger Nirvana, Best Bar and Grill, Best Knife and Fork Burger, and Best Burger Joint.
Last year's Riverwalk Burger Battle champion, Tucker Duke's Lunchbox in Deerfield Beach, took home the trophy with a burger composed of short ribs and brisket wrapped in bacon, stuffed with Boursin cheese, and coated in a spicy homemade secret sauce. This year, Tucker Duke's is back to contend for the 2016 title against establishments like Brgr Stop, Burger Craze, Funky Buddha Brewery, Gulfstream Park, Hard Rock Cafe, the Historic Downtowner Saloon, M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom, Shake Shack, Shooters Waterfront, and Timpano Italian Chophouse — with more to come.
Even though it's still several weeks away, tickets for the annual Riverwalk Burger Battle are officially on sale, and now that the word is out, general-admission access is going fast, says Riverwalk event coordinator Cristina Hudson.
"Each year, the annual burger competition draws thousands of eventgoers and burger aficionados to downtown Fort Lauderdale," says Hudson. "It's all part of Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale's mission to serve as the catalyst in building the area and community connected by the New River. Each year, we accomplish that mission through annual events like the burger battle, which is also one of our most popular."
You can check out footage from last year's event below to see what goes down:
Tickets cost $45 for general admission and $125 for the VIP Experience. General admission includes unlimited burger samples, three complimentary drink tickets, and access to the French-fry bar.
VIP entry provides a one-of-a-kind experience with early access to the event, starting at 6:30 p.m., and a special wrist band for specialty "light bites" and a full open bar provided by Stache and Breakthru Beverage, as well as craft beer offered through Brown Forman and Stephens Distributing. And if you're feeling extra fancy, the $1,250 Slider Sponsor tickets includes VIP access for parties of ten or more with a reserved table in the VIP area.
As in years past, all attendees will receive a chip with which to cast vote their votes for Fan Favorite. Eventgoers can also show their stuff with the burger-eating contest, sponsored by Stephens & Goldwin, P.A., this year featuring burgers from BurgerFi.
The Riverwalk Burger Battle takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, May 13, at Huizenga Park, located at 32 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-468-1541, or visit goriverwalk.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.