Grilled: Marc Sanders of Burgatory


Burger-centric interviews with chefs, writers, and other food lovers.

Note: Today we're interviewing Marc Sanders, the man behind burger blog Burgatory. Although he's based in Philadelphia, he's reviewed burgers from around the country and also blogs about burger-related news. Make sure to look at the topics on his blog, including "Burgernomics," "All About The Sauce," and "Mmmmm Chemicals!

20090918-marc.jpgName: Marc Sanders
Location: Suburban Philadelphia
Occupation: Director of Marketing for a bank

How often do you eat burgers? 2x a week.

Where did you eat your most recent one? Louie's Lunch (late-night food truck on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY).

Cheese: American, cheddar, other? American works, but I tend to order burgers with no cheese at all.

Ketchup or mustard? Both.

Sesame-seed or plain? Plain (potato roll, please!).

Grilled, griddled, or broiled? Griddled.

And how would you like that done? Medium rare.

Would you do us the favor of describing your perfect burger? I'd probably keep it simple, a perfectly grilled 1/4-pound burger with a few planks of bacon and a runny fried egg on top, served up on a potato roll.

The hamburger is a food item with which most Americans have strong childhood associations. Do you remember your earliest encounter with this delicious dish? I remember my first job ever was working at a crawfish boil at a family friend's restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi. I toiled over a cauldron of mudbugs all day and as soon as I was done I took the few bucks that I made and went immediately across the street to the Dairy Queen and ordered a triple cheeseburger. So technically the first money I ever earned working was spent on a burger, and that tradition hasn't stopped.

What's your favorite fast-food burger? Checkers Baconzilla (it just fires on all cylinders....Cheez Whiz and bacon...great name, too!).

What topping or condiment, in your opinion, should never grace a burger? Foie gras.

What's the most unusual burger you've ever eaten? I am on a mission to convince folks that the best burger in Philly may actually be the Chapli Kabab at this crazy little Afghani/Pakistani diner in University City called Kabobeesh. It is a perfectly seasoned and grilled burger that, if they served it on a bun (with bacon!), would easily top the "best of" lists in Philly.

What's the most overrated burger you've tried? Most underrated? Overrated: Steamed Cheeseburger at Ted's in Meriden, CT. I know that is just didn't work for me. [AHT review] Underrated: The cheeseburger from the food cart outside of the Comcast Center in Philadelphia wouldn't make anyone's top 10 list, but they are darn tasty and cheap. In fact, pretty much every burger I've had from one of the stainless steel shacks in the city has been good...Philly street food is right up there with NYC and the burgers are always a pretty reliable pick.

What are your top five burgers in Philly?

Chapli Kabab from Kabobeesh
4201 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-386-8081

Good Dog Burger from Good Dog Bar
224 S 15th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102; 215-985-9600

X-Tudo Hamburger from Picanha Grill Lanchonete
7638 Castor Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19152; 215-745-5555

Regular Hamburger from Charlie's Hamburgers
336 Kedron Avenue, 
Folsom PA 19033
; 610-461-4228

Pastrami Burger from Hymie's Deli
42 Montgomery Avenue, Merion Station PA 19066; 610-664-3544

Imagine that for some crazy reason, you're going vegetarian. Where do you go for your final burger? This is tough because I eat a ton of veggie burgers (my wife has almost slipped completely to the dark side—vegetarianism), but the last burger would probably have to be the "Cheese Egg" from Hamburgao, the Brazilian burger joint in Newark, New Jersey. It is a glorious mess of a burger and would be a fitting ending to a life of burger eating.