The gourmet burger craze continues to sweep South Florida as value-hungry consumers look for new twists on the All-American favorite. If you don’t feel like firing up the grill, here are three spots worth checking out…
Palm Beach County restaurateur Carmine Giardini is on the expansion trail with several new concepts, and CG Burgers is a potential winner. Fort Lauderdale is the newest of five locations that include Coral Springs. The theme is farm-fresh, with vegetarian-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef plus bison, lamb, turkey and veggie burgers. Design your own or choose house burgers like the Napa Valley (with goat cheese, arugula, balsamic honey mustard) or Cuban (smoked ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard). Standard patties are six ounces, but you can bulk up with a thicker pub burger or two double-stack patties. The burgers are drier than some but not greasy and taste like they came off the backyard grill. We were impressed with the turkey burger — all white meat with no fillers. Fire-roasted wings, mahi sandwich and filet mignon sub are also options. The biggest surprise is the incredibly well-stocked salad bar with house-made dressings. Save calories by splitting a side salad and fries (standard, sweet potato or zucchini) or onions rings. The gelato milk shakes are more flavorful than a typical ice cream shake but not as thick as we like.
Charm City Burger is one of those places you might not venture unless someone told you it was worth the trip. Parking is scarce, you have to walk past a dumpster and enter through the back door, and the interior is small and plain. Once you catch a whiff of the burgers, though, you’ll understand the reason for the crowds. The thick, juicy, premium steak burgers are the star. They’re a little on the greasy side, but this is no place for dieters. Our favorite options: cowboy-style, with thick-cut bacon, Cheddar cheese, sautéed mushrooms and grilled onions. The many burger choices include ground ahi tuna, Asian pork and shrimp, Italian sausage, veggie, turkey and a $22.95 Kobe burger topped with seared foie gras. Turn your meal into a combo for $2.75 to $5.50 with a soft drink, milkshake or beer (a good selection of microbrews). Hand-cut french fries and sweet potato fries are both winners, but beer-battered onion rings had spent too much time in the fry basket There are even salads, which looked nicer than we would have expected. Finish on an equally decadent note with a Blue Bell milk shake or carnival-style fried Oreos or Twinkies.
Weston’s Stop Burger is the most basic and least impressive of the burger joints we sampled. The decor is industrial with a retro feel, and the menu is simple and straightforward: Choose a burger or sandwich, select your free toppings and sauces or pay for upgrades. Make it a combo and you get a free soft drink. Burger choices are beef, veggie and turkey. The menu also includes chicken tenders, wings, hotdogs, Philly cheese-steak and salads. Sides are fries (curly or sweet potato) and onion rings. A collection of “celebrity” burgers benefits the local luminary’s favorite charity. Our 8-ounce Paul and Young Ron’s with provolone cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, jalapeños and ketchup was a solid execution but nothing special. There was only one staffer at the counter and one in the kitchen, and once a crowd began to build, they couldn’t keep up. The original burger made a satisfying meal with a half-pound of beef, but the turkey burger was so loaded with salt and filler we sent it back. Sweet potato fries and onion rings were both fresh and hot. Thin, flavorless Edy’s ice cream shakes made for a less-than-sweet ending.