The Mighty Burger

Burgers really are the universal food aren’t they?  I mean, they are diverse enough to add crazy stuff to them like cheese sticks and jalapenos and eggs and such.  Or they can be wonderful with not a whole lot on them.  You can dress ’em up so that they all fall out of the back of your bun or make it pretty simple like I did with my ‘Blanco Burger’ in our Episode about Burgers.

I’m a proud papa.  My 11 year old daughter has joined me in my crusade for the best burger ever.   Yes, I am always looking for it.  Funny thing about it though is, like wine, a best burger ever totally comes down to taste.  Ingredients are critical of course, but how they are cooked makes a huge difference.  I am a huge fan of char-grilled.   Others like griddle top burgers like you find at Five Guys or Green Truck Pub.  It makes a huge difference in flavor.  If you love looking into great burgers, your next road trip to Atlanta needs to include a stop at The Vortex.

I will admit, I had no idea what to expect when we walked into their original location at Little Five Points.  It was about high noon on Sunday.  Parking was already at a premium.  I thought “Well, if I have to wait for a table, I’m not going to be happy.”  Noon time on Sunday doesn’t scream 2 hour wait to me.  Fortunately, we beat the rush.  By the time we left, the wait was 90 minutes.  Ouch.

The Vortex is a tribute to insanity and excess.  I say that in the kindest way of course.  The decor is scandalous.  Anything you can think of is on the bright red walls.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved it.  Pure entertainment before you look at the menu.  There are TV’s all over as well.

The menu was uhhhhhh extensive?  Yeah, that word fits.  Extensive and excessive.  Anyone nursing a hangover would be snug as a bug in a rug at this place.  I kinda got that impression that Sunday.  King-sized sandwiches, ‘award winning burgers’ and ‘by-pass burgers’ dominate the landscape.  The latter having nothing to do with highway travel.  You’ve got to see this for yourself.  The menu is a monster of monster-sized and stuffed

Rebel Outlaw at The Vortex

Rebel Outlaw at The Vortex

stuff.  Make sense?  I had the Rebel Outlaw.  Burger Patty covered in pulled pork, cheddar cheese and bacon.  They add a “Spicy Outlaw Sauce” to it, which I got on the side.  When it comes to sauces on my burger I always like to maintain control.  It can get messy real quick otherwise.   This guy was fantastic.  One of the best I’ve ever had.  It made me want to try all of them at some point.  Alas that would take a road trip of epic proportions.  And my daughter would miss out.  They don’t allow anyone under 18 years of age inside.  EVER.  Not daytime and certainly not at night.  Bummer.

Another favorite I had -which I share not so much to entice you to travel to New York, but to try this combo of toppings at home.  It was at a small chain called 5 Napkin Burger Several locations in New York City and elsewhere.  Ironically, they tried a spot in Atlanta and it closed rather quickly.  Not because the food wasn’t amazing.   The burger I had there is there “Classic”   Very simple.  Burger, Gruyere Cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and rosemary aioli.  That’s it.  That’s all.  I dream about this burger and believe it or not, have yet to try to make it at home.  Soon.  Definitely this summer.

The Original at 5 Napkin Burger

The Original at 5 Napkin Burger

Burgers without the expense of travel? In Savannah? Right here.

This is not a ranking.  It’s a list you should clip and save for a day you are craving a big, juicy burger and aren’t sure where to go. Yes, some are more pricey than others, but you indeed get what you pay for.

Circa 1875
48 Whitaker St.

The burger at Circa was one of those things that was recommended to me once, then twice, then a third time, until you finally say, “OK, I need to go try this.” A true rock star of a burger. How so?

Chef David’s Green Peppercorn Brandy Mustard sauce is made in-house. I get mine on the side to control the mess as I eat it and always have some left over to dip the truffle fries into. They’ll even add a slice of fois gras to it for you if you’d like. Too much? Try it.

Crystal Beer Parlor
301 W. Jones St.

Chef/Owner John Nichols grew up on Crystal Beer Parlor burgers, knowing they were a Savannah institution. So when he woke up one day and owned Crystal Beer parlor, he knew he had to have a great burger.

Attention to detail? He tells me they spent six months looking for the perfect bun before rolling it out.

Au Poivre burger, Famous Crystal Burger and Greek Lamb Burger jump off the page, but they are all good.

Green Truck Pub
2430 Habersham St. 

Savannah’s most popular burger never disappoints.

If you’ve been, you know why. If you haven’t — why not?

Best part in my book is how Josh and his staff are always tweaking and crawling forward with toppings.

Southern Comfort burger topped with smoked gouda and collard greens is a new addition.

Honorable mention to the El Jefe, a burger topped with corn, black bean and jalapeno salsa as well as sliced avocado (I added bacon).

Lip smackin’ good.

Green Truck’s burgers are classic griddle-top burgers. Hunter Cattle beef makes them tasty, but that griddle is the unsung hero at GTP.

Tybee Island Social Club
1311 Butler Ave.

I am a huge fan of char-grilled burgers. Love that charred taste and crust when a perfect burger is grilled.

Fat (and flavor, of course) drip away, but if the quality of the meat is good enough, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. Social has a few very good burgers, but the Chorizo Burger topped with pepperjack cheese, bacon, chipotle aioli, organic spring mix and red onion on a ciabatta bun is one for the ages.

Long day at the beach looking for a solid bite and an icy refreshment? Do it.

A.Lure
305 W. Congress St.

See? I really do go to upscale restaurants and eat burgers. A.Lure has its own char-grilled dream on a bun.

That bun, however, makes the world go round. First question I asked: “Are these made in-house?” I was told they were. Soft, subtle and buttery, which lets the perfect patty be the frontman.

That’s 5. Work on those, then email me and I will give you five more, including Fire Street Food and Dub’s Pub on River Street.

There are a bazillion great burgers out there, so if you find your favorite, own it.

And never be afraid to fight for it, because at the end of the day, all that matters is that you Eat It and Like It.

See you on TV,

Jesse

Eat It and Like It launched in Savannah, Georgia with television personality Jesse Blanco as the host. His passion for food and travel has made Eat It and Like It a two-time EMMY nominated program about contemporary and traditional Southern food.

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