DAY SIX: THE GRAND FINALE
Today is the last day of Burger Week and my sentiments can only be described as bittersweet. Unlike the previous Burger Weeks, this is the first time that I don’t feel like I’m dying. Perhaps I’ve become a seasoned pro, or maybe it’s my new Burger Week morning ritual of starting the day with a probiotic gut shot and ginger tea. Whatever it may be, I feel a tinge of sadness that it’s ending. Or maybe that’s just heartburn.
To reach my final goal of 20 burgers, I must finish 4 burgers today. This calls for a breakfast burger.
My friend Kara, a Burger Week naysayer, joins me. She claims this is the only way she can see me during Burger Week. And she’s right. Burgers are my number one priority in life.
I’ve never been to Doug Fir this early in the morning, and I must say it looks completely different in the daylight. Naturally, I order the burger and a coffee. The best part of waking up is burgers in your cup! Kara orders a breakfast burrito. The nerve.
The Doug Fir "Smoke N Fry" burger is a beef patty, cheese, shredded lettuce, onion fry sauce, topped off with a waffle fry. I always love the addition of fries INSIDE the burger. The burger packs a lot of flavor but has a lingering onslaught of pepper. It reminds me of a Lay’s Barbecue Chip, which is not my favorite flavor but I will eat them if they’re in front of me because I have no self control. It’s a similar case with this burger, where I finish it all because it is in front of me. I end up stealing napkins from the table next to me to deal with the massacre of onion fry sauce. Overall, I rate this burger an 8.
I migrate over to Migration Brewing (GET IT???). My coworker Dwight comes along to experience the PHO king best burger. Last year, Migration took first place in my Burger Week reviews. And as always, a pun in the name is guaranteed to pique my interest.
The PHO king best burger features a pork and beef patty, hoisin chili and aioli sauce, pickled carrots, jalapeños, and a basil-cabbage slaw. Unfortunately, this year they fell a little flat. The burger had good flavor and the cabbage and carrot slaw added a nice crunch, but overall I was a little underwhelmed and have to give it a relatively average 7.5.
Sadly, my phone did not save the photos of the Migration burger. I guess it doesn’t understand my ~art~. All I’m left with is a photo Dwight took of me contemplating my life choices after eating 18 burgers.
My OG burger buddies and bloggers Nick and Keith are down to join me at Vagabond, one of the burgers I’m most excited about this year. Correction: Nick is excited to join me, Keith has a distaste for mushrooms, and vows to complain about how much he doesn’t like them throughout the meal. Regardless, the gang is back together and it feels like we’re a classic rock band doing a reunion tour.
We walk into Vagabond and immediately find that there’s a strict set of rules: everyone who wants to eat a burger must order a drink, you are not allowed to share the burger, and you are not allowed to eat the burger on the patio. FOR A PLACE THAT HAS SHAG CARPET ON THE CEILING, THAT’S A LOT OF REGULATIONS...
The server tells us they’re almost out of burgers and I start to panic. We order ours immediately, and it turns out we get the last three. The Vagabond “Oh My Gravy” burger has a beef patty on a potato bun with gruyere cheese, truffle mayo, and an onion ring doused in mushroom gravy. It has a very crunchy patty, and I am a big fan of carbs, so I like the oversized bun. The gravy provided the right amount of sustenance so the burger wasn’t too dry, and I end up dipping my excess burger bun into the graving drippings. I’m a big fan, but I’m the only one who likes it in our trio. I’m reminded of Thanksgiving, but Keith is reminded of a Stouffer’s frozen meal. To each their own, I suppose. I give this burger an 8.
As we leave, they put a sign on the door that said “BURGER WEEK SOLD OUT.” Godspeed to the next Burger Week enthusiasts who must experience this unfortunate fate.
Our next destination (and my final stop of Burger Week) is Lay Low tavern. It’s so new that it doesn’t even show up on Google Maps yet, nor does it have a website. I guess you could say… they lay low…….. (crickets).
We’re surrounded by the dive bar comforts of Buck Hunter, video poker, wood paneling, and vintage beer signs. I’ve heard a lot of hype around this burger, but my expectations are pretty low. LAY LOW, if you will….... (crickets)
The Lay Low “Club 26” is an homage to the excellent but now closed burger spot Club 21 (RIP). It features a beef patty, chèvre cheese, arugula, bacon, Mama Lil's peppers, lime-cilantro aioli, and a french bun.
Our burgers arrive and I take my first bite. Instantaneously, I’m transported to the most magical experience I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. I’m at a loss for words. This is the best burger I have ever consumed in my life. I’m near tears, but try to keep my cool – this is a dive bar after all, and most people in here have handlebar mustaches and/or carry motorcycle helmets. While the ingredients seem easy to recreate, somehow they have perfected it. So simple, yet so refined. Every single bite warms my soul and fills me with pure, unadulterated joy. If this burger was on the menu permanently, I would probably eat it every single day. I almost ordered it again, just so I could let the flavor linger on. This is the first burger I have ever rated a perfect 10/10. It finally happened – I reached pure burger nirvana. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end burger week.
It’s been an incredible Burger Week. What started out slow with disappointment, ended with the best burger I’ve ever eaten. This year saw a lot of high rankings, but as always, only three can get a place on the podium.
FIRST PLACE: Lay Low Tavern’s “Club 26” burger. I laughed, I cried, I went on an emotional journey. I feel like I could write a book about how great this burger was, but no one would read that except for me.
SECOND PLACE: Double Barrel’s “Curd is the Word” burger. I thought for sure this was going to be the top choice until my last burger knocked it down to second place.
THIRD PLACE: HOME, a bar’s “Dirty Picnic” burger. I never knew baked beans could be such a welcome addition to a burger.
HONORABLE MENTION: I flip-flopped on who should ultimately take third place, but Kell’s “Ballycastle Sausage Roll” burger was a close top 3 contender.
Total Burgers Eaten: 20. This is a new all-time record for me, and I’ve never felt prouder. I went into Burger Week with the goal of eating 20 burgers, and I accomplished it! Dream big, ya know? I may cherish this moment more than I do my first-born.
Total Money Spent: $135.04. A small price to pay for PASSION.
Total Number of Burger Photos: 46
Total Pounds Lost/Gained: 3 pounds lost! For the third year in a row, science proves that the Burger Diet™ works!
Total amount of times throwing up: 0! #Blessed. Must be all those probiotics.
Completing Burger Odyssey, Year 3: PRICELESS.
While I’m excited that I’ll finally experience hunger again, I can’t help but think of the impending burgerless void. There will be no more $5 limited edition burgers, and it will be frowned upon to eat 4 burgers in one day. Alas, as the famous quote that adorns graduation cards and bathroom decor says, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Thnx 4 the memoriez Burger Week.