Grilled: Victoria Pesce Elliott of 'The Miami Herald'


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

Note: Today we're interviewing Victoria Pesce Elliott, restaurant critic for The Miami Herald...and burger lover! Serious Eats founder Ed Levine asked her these questions to get the skinny on her burger preferences./>

Name: Victoria Pesce Elliott
Location: Miami
Occupation: Restaurant critic for The Miami Herald

Describe your ideal burger: I like a burger that is not too huge. I think 1/4-pound of beef is more than enough. Otherwise, it is tough to get my mouth around it without creating a sloppy mess.

It's not only the cut but also the quality of the beef. Of course, I want a good juicy, flavorful blend of cuts, but I also don't want hormones and antibiotic junk in my burger. I'm thrilled to find a grass-fed beef and maybe even some bison in there. I've had good burgers that are sirloin, chuck, brisket, butt, flank, and who knows what all else, but if well seasoned, well formed, and properly cooked, the burger can transcend its origins.

I say the best is on a real outdoor grill, preferably over good wood. You can taste the flame-licked beef.

What are your five favorite burgers in Miami and why? The old Taurus in Coconut Grove opened again recently and has the best burger in town with its gorgeously charred exterior, perfectly sized sesame bun and the best drippy but not totally gloppy eating experience. I also love Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Kingdom, Five Guys, Burger & Beer Joint, and Michael Mina's divine kobe burger, especially with those duck-fat fries. And though not a classic burger burger, El Rey de Las Fritas is also greasy heaven.

What are five burgers you love in other places? I stop by Shake Shack almost every time I am in NYC, Red Mill where Bill Gates likes to go in Seattle (it's around the corner from my brother's old house), and in Hollywood, Alan Richman's favorite Le Tub. My other brother lives in LA, so I do get a chance to get to burger nirvana often, too. There, I cannot resist a perfect In-N-Out burger. Fat Burger was a favorite for years.

How do you like your burgers cooked? Black and blue.

What are your preferred toppings? I think the best burger has to have some kind of a sour component. So, pickles would be a definite. I like them thin and just a few of them. Also, ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes (only if super thin and ripe and real). Red onion can also be great. As for cheese, I can never turn down truly good and melty cheddar. But at someone's backyard BBQ or a kid's party, I will also never say no to good old orange American!

What's your ideal burger bun or roll? I really don't like brioche—usually too sweet and puffy. But a simple sesame or, even better, a slightly crusty poppy seed bun that is not too tall or too wet (like Five Guys) works for me. Truth is, I eat my burgers open face. I always take one of the buns off—usually the bottom one.

Who's your ideal burger eating companion or companions? Through some weird twist of fate—maybe cause I have so many yogi friends—lots of people I know don't eat meat. So, I will have to say my husband and kids.