Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Charlotte 500, Laps 87 - 90: Of Beef & Buns

My favorite way of exploring my adopted hometown is working my way through the various "best of" lists that appear in newspapers and on the internet.  The Charlotte Observer runs a food related Sweet 16 every year during March Madness.  Sixteen restaurants known for a specific food item - wings, pizza, burgers, fries - are selected for the competition, and the field is narrowed weekly by on line voting until a winner is crowned the Best of Charlotte.  In 2011, the competition was all about burgers, divided between old school and new school.  In the end, the two schools of burger proved to be so vastly different the Observer opted to crown co-champs.  Before I turn the intro into a post of its own....

Lap 87: Brooks' Sandwich House (2710 N Brevard St, just off North Davidson, NoDa) was the winner of the old school bracket of the Observer's burger challenge.  Brooks' isn't much to look at - a dirty old shack, with a semi trailer parked (abandoned?) in back, and a large gravel lot in an old don't go to Brooks' because you happen to be driving by, you have to know it's there.  I expected something great, but left decidedly disappointed in the food.  I had the cheeseburger "all the way" (because that's what you're supposed to get at Brooks'), the classic Carolina style.  I was lucky enough to visit Brooks' Sandwich House on a gorgeously sunny and warm November day with a great friend who happens to have a truck with a tailgate, which proved an ideal place to eat our burgers and fries while naming the biting flies that attempted to impose themselves on our meal - that made the experience one of the happiest days I've had in a long time. The tailgate was also perfectly suited for people watching the diverse group of patrons that came to Brooks' for lunch. Due to the glowing reviews of Brooks' I will definitely return to see if my burger let-down was a fluke.

Lap 88: The Liberty (1812 South Blvd, South End) was the new school burger champ, a decision hard to argue.  While there are other reasons to visit the Liberty - great food and a fine beer list among them - the burger is truly delicious.  Nice and meaty, wonderfully juicy without being greasy...well worth a taste or two.  Or three.  The blue cheese potato chips are also outstanding.

Lap 89: Zack's Hamburgers (4009 South Blvd, at Scaleybark) is what McDonalds claims to be: simple, old fashioned burgers and fries.  Order the Zack's Special - two beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a toasted bun (has a familiar ring, doesn't it?) served with fries - and you won't be disappointed.  I can't wait to go back!

Lap 90: Pinky's Westside Grill (1600 W Morehead St) serves up a fun mix of burgers with an unusual variety of toppings, including hummus, sauerkraut, and artichokes. One of the more interesting burgers is the Ding Dong style burger which is topped with crunchy peanut butter, honey-cilantro slaw, and hot sriracha sauce.  Mine was a tad dry (virtually mandated by state law) but the flavors were wonderful.  The fried pickle chips are a nice warm up for the burger.  If nothing else, it's a fun trip just to see the patriotic Volkswagen on the roof.

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03 May, 2018 11:51  

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