Nothing Says Summer – or Americana – More Than a Hamburger. Grilled, Fried, or Flame Broiled, we Don’t Care how it’s Fixed so Long as it Tastes Great. Add a Slice of Cheese, and You’re There
Coral Gables may be known for its sophisticated palate and culinary acumen, but it’s not above a good old-fashioned burger. The city is rife with burger joints, and just about every restaurant serves its own version. Here’s our take on the top cheeseburgers in town.
BEST OVERALL BURGER
Tap 42’s Prohibition
You must appreciate a restaurant that offers just two choices of burger and stands by them. For Tap42, it’s The Prohibition and The Drunken Goat. For our purposes, The Drunken Goat – a mouthwatering mix of lamb and beef with whipped goat cheese – can’t be used for comparison. But The Prohibition, their cheeseburger with white cheddar, Applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, dijonnaise and secret sauce is our best choice for overall burger, in terms of flavor, juiciness, and value.
The secret, says executive chef Andrew Balick, is a combination of fresh, quality ingredients and putting all their eggs in one basket. “A lot of places use ground chuck,” says Balick. “We use whole muscle, not trim products, not leftovers. Just beef tenderloin and ribeye and strip loin.” The patties are made and delivered daily by their local supplier, as are the buns. “A lot of places use brioche, but we use challah, which has a higher moisture content and a little more sugar.” As for the single offering, says Balick, “We believe in conceptualizing and creating the best burger and presenting that. So, it has both sauces, with everything on it, bacon, cheese, etc.” ($14.50 w fries)
301 Giralda Ave. 786.391.1566
BEST BURGER BORN IN THE GABLES
Pincho Factory’s Pincho Burger
The new trend in burgerdom, captured initially by Shake Shack, was for a smaller, well-cooked patty that supplied some crunch combined with cheese and a delicious secret sauce. Here in Coral Gables, the locally-launched Pincho Factory came up with its own version – the Pincho Burger: well cooked, laden with secret sauce, LTO, and in this case given extra crunch by tiny potato sticks. Beats the Shack with a stick. ($6.99 w/o fries)
30 Giralda Ave. 305.446.5666
BEST BASIC BURGER VALUE
Burger Bobs’ Burger
There was a day when a burger was a straight forward thing: a patty of ground chuck on a white bread bun, with lettuce, tomato and onion. Period. Add ketchup or mustard to taste. Add a slice of cheese and you have a cheeseburger. If you want to flashback to your childhood – or simply take a time machine to the 1950s – then go to Burger Bobs on the edge of the Granada Golf Course. It hasn’t changed in a half century, thank heaven. And for $5.25, the price can’t be matched.
2001 Granada Blvd. 305.567.3100
BEST SPECIALTY BURGERS
Shula’s French Onion
Being a steak house, Shula’s is naturally obsessed with quality beef, and that translates to its burgers. Specifically, they make theirs from a signature blend of fresh premium Black Angus chuck, short rib and brisket. They also use buns from Cusano’s Bakery, family owned in the Gables since 1966. While their standard burger is darn good, their specialty burgers – in particular, French Onion (caramelized onions, gruyere cheese, garlic mayo and crushed garlic croutons) and House of Bleu (bleu cheese and red onion jam) are unparalleled when it comes to dressing up a burger with special flavors. ($14 w fries)
6915 Red Rd. 305.665.9661
BEST BURGER FOR A SWEET TOOTH
Swensen’s Crispy Cream
Swensen’s is an old-fashioned sort of place, with as much emphasis on the soda fountain as anything else. They make nice, fat hamburgers with LTO, where the burger is thicker than the bun. They also make no less than 15 specialty burgers, with toppings as random as fried mac n’ cheese and avocado. Their claim to fame is the diabetes inducing Crispy Cream Donut Burger. A real teeth rattler for those who dare. (Burgers $14-$16 w fries).
1568 Dixie Hwy. 305.661.7658
BEST NON-MEAT BURGER
Shake Shack’s ‘Shroom Burger; BurgerFi’s Beyond Meat
The idea of a meatless burger might seem sacrilegious to some, but for those who have sworn off meat, let’s all have a little pity. Up to now you could get veggie burgers, which are more akin to fried falafel balls than meat; crunchy and tasty, but not the real thing. In that category, the Mushroom Burger ($6.99) at Shake Shack, with melted cheese inside, is the winner. Now, however, comes Beyond Meat, which not only looks like the real thing but tastes like it, too. Burger Fi offers this plant-based (peas!) Beyond Burger ($8.75), which actually has more protein and iron than the real thing.
Shake Shack, 1450 S. Dixie Hwy. 786.470.3701.
BurgerFi. 136 Miracle Mile. 305.967.8260
MOST UNEXPECTED BURGER
Since when does a massive raw bar with specialty cocktails also produce a great burger? That would be since Tarpon Bend started serving them. Like Tap42, they use a challah roll, Applewood smoke bacon and cheddar cheese to produce a darn good fresh and juicy burger. Starting August 1, they are also offering a Wednesday two-for-one special. This is only for sit-down customers, says owner Wayne Eldred, so it’s for a friend – or to see how much you can eat in one sitting. ($15 w fries)
65 Miracle Mile. 305.444.3210
BEST BAR BURGER
John Martin’s Pub Burger
Sometimes it’s not just the burger. Sometimes it’s also the place. John Martin’s puts out a solid sirloin burger, but what makes it really great is the pub itself. John Martin’s is one of the oldest continuously operating bar/restaurants in Coral Gables, with a reputation for authentic Irish pub grub and an ambience enhanced by its 20-foot mahogany bar and flooring from a church in Ireland. This is as close to Cheers as it gets in the Gables, and a fine place to wash down a cheeseburger with blackened seasoning and a great selection of beers. ($15 w fries)
253 Miracle Mile. 305.445.3777
ALSO OF NOTE
For those of us who once loved this burger joint, which has grown into a chain with a Gables outlet on Dixie Highway, remember: greasy is not the same as juicy.
There are many things on your menu that we love, but your well-reputed burger, timid and tasteless, is not one of them. Plus, it has way too much shredded lettuce.
The name of the store is what you’ll do with your wallet for their $20 burger. It’s also what you need do with the burger itself, stacked so high you must unhinge your jaw to eat it.