The burgers were very nearly upstaged at their own biggest event of the year in New York City.
Burger Bash 2017 all but came to a halt when Naughty by Nature took the stage at Pier 92, bringing a roof-shaking performance people still managed to groove along to despite having spent the previous two hours sampling 30 burgers.
Sprinkle on a few dessert sides like Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches (we’re pretty sure there are still people standing in that line, it was so long all night), and the New York City Wine & Food Festival’s main event made for an amazing final cookout of 2017.
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The ultimate winner of Burger Bash 2017 was Le Rivage by a judging panel that included event host Rachael Ray and former *NSYNC star Lance Bass. The Theater District’s classic French restaurant earned a unanimous thumbs up with its already low-key famous French Onion Soup Burger.
The audience favorite went to Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer. Say what you will about their bullhorns and pleas for votes handed out with every burger, marketing only gets you so far — the rest was their crazy juicy Wagyu patty that was so rich, it was almost sweet. Dubbed the Greg Norman, the burger comes with buttermilk-dill dressing and blue cheese for a double hit of funk, and arugula so you can tell mom you ate something green this week.
Here are our picks among the other 28 burgers to add to your casual dining agenda.
The Baroness Bar + Kitchen
Long Island City was already on your radar for its burgeoning beer scene — now, you’ve got a burger destination to hit up, too. Savory upon savory upon savory is a bold move, but the Elvis Presley-loving crew at The Baroness Bar + Kitchen pulled it off. The Priscilla starts with a short rib-blended patty made with a blend of seven spices, topped with double-smoked pepper bacon, New York sharp cheddar and a shmear of their take on the King’s favorite condiment, a spicy Thai peanut sauce on a sea salt pretzel brioche bun. Talk about a hunk’a burnin’ love. 4126 Crescent St., Long Island City, facebook.com/TheBaronessBar
Harold’s Meat & Three
Working in a three-star Michelin restaurant has led chef Harold Moore to some interesting places with Southern comfort food at Harold’s Meat + Three in the Arlo Hudson Hotel. Of all the classic burgers — that’s beef with fresh lettuce, tomato and raw onions — at Burger Bash, Moore’s cheeseburger stood out. His double Pat Lafreida patties are smashed thin and get a good sear on the griddle before getting a cap of American cheese, the veg, ketchup and mustard. Some things don’t need frills (though the side order of funnel cake was appreciated). 2 Renwick St., Tribeca, haroldsmeatandthree.com
The Committed Pig
Chef Jerry Rotunno’s blended patty of short rib, hangar steak and brisket already packs its own flavor punch even before he gusses it up in a variety of photogenic burgers that make us yearn to have him closer — The Committed Pig boasts three locations, all in New Jersey. His Baked Brie Burger turns the classic appetizer of brie wrapped in pastry dough with rich, sweet fig jam inside-out. “Then I added bacon to balance it out,” he says. It’s a winning combo: The Baked Brie was voted the second best burger in all of New Jersey. We wouldn’t tell you to cross the Hudson for anything less. thecommittedpig.com
The barbecue stars of Gowanus’ Pig Beach — recently expanded with indoor seating for winter — brought a serious challenger to the fast-food knockoff category: Their signature Pig Beach Burger comes slathered in their own proprietary special sauce that should have McDonald’s quaking in its red clown shoes, plus a slice of white American cheese and a hit of half-sour tang from housemade pickles. Talk about taking something #basic and doing them right. 480 Union St., Gowanus