May is National Hamburger Month, and in Miami, the couldn’t-miss event celebrating our favorite comfort food was the Burger Brawl. Hosted and organized by fellow food blogger and Miami culinary-expert Sef, AKA Burger Beast, this event somehow managed to gather 20 of the best burgers in the South Florida area in one parking lot. Not only did it give people the chance to try the best burgers in our city, but also it brought attention to the mom and pop type businesses that truly push our culinary scene forward. Basically, for $50, guests were given the opportunity to have unlimited samples burgers from 20 restaurants, along with a special appearance by El Rey de Las Fritas, a tater tot bar from Sakaya Kitchen, various desserts from places like HipPops and Azucar Ice Cream, and free beer and drinks from Samuel Adams, Ice Water, and Pure Brazilian Coconut Water.
Just like previous Burger Beasts events, it was professionally planned, and it gave the impression that the organizer’s main focus was for the attendees to enjoy what was being offered, instead of just an event to make money. Not once did the parking lot seemed packed, not once did I have to wait more than a minute for a burger, and not once did I bump into someone due to a massive crowd. Instead, I was able to freely make my way from booth to booth and have samples within my grasp from anywhere I wanted in mere seconds, even having communal picnic tables to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere. There was live music provided, furthering the dynamic mood and encouraging everyone to have fun and indulge in this gathering of burger greats. Sef had his own booth, eager to meet all his fans and to be the best host possible. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a South Beach Wine and Food Festival event, but this was the complete opposite. It felt more intimate and about the food and fun times instead of a way to gather people for the sake of gathering people.
Samples were expertly prepared and handled in an impressive manner. Different restaurants took different routes when it came to serving their burger, ranging from making sliders, to making a burger and dividing it in quarters, to even serving full-sized burgers. No matter what the restaurant chose to do, there was enough food for everyone and there was not one restaurant that ran out. There was something to satisfy all palates, from spicy burgers, to sweet burgers, to simple burgers, to complex burgers. Despite the large deviation in burger styles, they all had in common that they were fresh and delectable.
Everyone had a personal favorite depending on their tastes and loyalty to these Miami institutions, and guests were given the opportunity to vote at the end for who they believed should take the coveted Burger Brawl award. I won’t divulge for whom I voted for, but I will say that the best bites I sampled came from Pincho Factory, Charm City, Swine, and the Eating House. Pincho Factory provided their ubiquitous Toston Burger, a chuck, brisket and short rib patty topped with jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro sauce sandwiched between 2 tostones, Charm City served their secret patty blend topped with white American cheese, jowl bacon, pickled tomatoes and charred ramp aioli on an everything bun, Swine offered their short rib, brisket and smoked pork blend patty topped high with a homemade dill pickle, thick-cut house-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, American cheese and Swine special sauce, and Eating House passed out a Black Angus beef patty topped with applewood-smoked bacon, a fried egg, black truffle and smothered with Fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. At the end, people ending up decided that Latin House Grill offered the best burger, with a Special sirloin, brisket chuck blend topped with 3 cheeses, applewood smoked maple glazed bacon, Irish butter grilled mushrooms and onions, Hass avocado, avocado lime and crema Mexicana sauces and candied jalapeño.
No matter who people voted for, one thing was for certain: the Burger Brawl was a great time that offered guests the opportunity to indulge in celebrating National Hamburger Month without having to worry about overpriced and oversold events. The professional planning led to one of the best event experiences I’ve had in a long time, and I would not hesitate to return if it happens to be held again. Thank you Burger Beast, for giving Miami the opportunity to enjoy this month like it should be enjoyed.
Magic City Casino
450 NW 37th Ave, Miami, FL 33125
By food blogger, Santiago Cardona