Like a lot of people, I’m pretty particular about my burgers. I like a nice, thick patty, with juices that ooze out, a slice of melted cheese (cheddar or swiss, depending on the mood), a slice of lettuce (if it’s fresh and crisp, otherwise don’t bother), a slice of tomato (optional), onions only if grilled. Other accouterments might include sauteed mushrooms and maybe a rasher of bacon or three.
The bun is very important. It should be fresh -- that should go without saying -- but I like it slightly toasted, on the grill, preferably, with a slather of butter. I don’t care if it has sesame seeds, but never caraway.
And the burger must be prepared medium-rare. The unwillingness of the restaurant to cook it to my specification has been a deal killer. I have canceled the order and walked out of the restaurant on numerous occasions when I’ve been informed by the server that the kitchen will not cook any burgers less than medium-well.
Even worse is when they tell me they can’t because of a state law that says all burgers must be cooked medium-well. There is no such state law.
The reason that those restaurants want to overcook burgers is to kill any bacteria that may be present in the patty. Note that I said IN the patty. During the slaughter process, usually if the intestines are sliced, bacteria can spread to the meat. This is more common than you probably want to know. The good news is that the cooking process is quite effective in killing the bacteria. Because the bacteria is on the surface of the meat, say a nice thick steak, even rare steaks are considered safe to consume.
But with ground beef, the surface gets blended into the rest of the meat, so any bacteria that was on the surface can now be found inside the patty. Therefore, it’s necessary to cook a burger longer in order to assure that the inside reaches a bacterium-killing temp. Some restaurants don’t want to take the chance, so they refuse to cook ground beef to lower temperatures.
I, however, believe in free will, and if customers want to take a chance on a medium-rare burger they should be allowed.
Luckily, a good number of restaurants that serve a good number of burgers agree with me.
Some of the burgers in town that I enjoy are:
Johnny’s Fillin’ Station, a multiple Foodie award winner that unfortunately every now and then gets a little too busy to do the burgers right. When they’re on their game, however, they’re excellent.
Crooked Spoon, a food truck that could compete for best burger against non-wheeled restaurants.
Hamburger Mary’s, the flamboyant downtown burgery with big, juicy burgers and loads of fun between the buns.
Graffiti Junktion, in Thornton Park and College Park, boisterously loud, but serious about its burgers.
Pine 22, in downtown Orlando, serves good burgers, though I find the build-your-own concept -- with 322,000 possible combinations -- ultra annoying. Please just take the burger I described and call it a #22, that’s what I’ll order.
And an all-time favorite, Tap Room at Dubsdread.
It has occurred to me that it’s been a while since we’ve had a search for the Best Burger in Orlando, so let’s have a vote. I’ve started with a list of the burgers I think are worthy of the title, but you have a chance to nominate your favorite, too. If you think one of the restaurants on my list serves the best burger, just vote for it by clicking next to its name.
If your favorite isn’t on the list, leave a comment with the restaurant’s name below. On November 7, the two restaurants on my list with the fewest votes will be dropped, the two most-nominated restaurants from the comments will be added. All votes will be wiped out to zero and voting will recommence. I’ll announce the winner on November 15.