What's better than a burger and a beer among friends? Lots of burgers and beers among friends, with a cutthroat competition to boot! So went the Eye Heart SF Burger Brawl, which went down in all of its beefy glory this past Saturday at Fort Mason.
The Brawl featured 10 contestants, including restaurants (The Corner Store, Burger Bar), food trucks (Brass Knuckle, Belly Burgers), and pop-ups (our very own Wes Rowe!). Each stand served burgers in a variety of sizes, from bare-bones sliders to eight-ounce behemoths dripping toppings. Some stands offered sides, should you want some bacon jalapeño mac 'n' cheese or a pickle plate with your 10 burgers.
We saw a wide range of creativity, too—The Boardroom certainly had the most pure burger iteration, simply serving up beef on a bun with squeeze bottles of ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise on hand, while Burger Bar's short rib slider pushed the boundaries of what can really be considered a burger versus a very good cow-filled sandwich.
There were some common issues: most patties were overcooked, and many lacked a texturally interesting crust. Buns ranged from insignificant to bready and stale. But sliders from The Corner Store and Wes Rowe's Hot Wes burger were standouts for their composition, ingredients, and bold flavors.
While Wes's close ties to Serious Eats certainly did raise the red flag of nepotism for my judging purposes, his Hot Wes was the favorite of my esteemed burger tasters, as well. What's more, the judges agreed: the Hot Wes was the victor of the Burger Brawl, taking home a shiny trophy and, of course, a lifetime of pride.
Warning: the above slideshow could be considered NSFW. At least, not safe for work pre-lunchtime. Scope out the burger porn here!
About the author: Lauren Sloss is a bicoastal food-lover who is based in San Francisco. Some of her favorite things include The Black Keys, goat gouda, and guacamole. You can follow her on Twitter @laurensloss.