Sometimes I think my life is funny.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

That Time I Tried to Eat 30 Burgers (& Rate Them) before I Turned 30

If you don't already know, in early April I decided that I needed to make and complete a 30 before 30 list in anticipation of my 29th brthday. Goal #7 on my 30 before 30 list is to try and rate 30 different burgers, with an additional bonus goal of trying to get 30 different people to buy me said burgers (because the only thing more delicious than a burger is a free burger).  So far this has been my favorite, and most delicious goal.

I have created a rating system, which I have detailed below. I will continuously update this page as I try more burgers, until I eventually hit 30 (or maybe more??) burgers.

I welcome burger recommendations, as well as burger invitations.

Burger Rating System:

1. Bun & Topping options: 1 – 10
For me, toppings MAKE the burger. I love options. LOTS of options. I also truly appreciate creativity and novelty.

2. Overall Taste: 1 – 10
Considerations for this category include juiciness of the burger, flavor of the meat, and taste of the whole package (burger, toppings, bun) when put together.

3. Value: 1 – 10
Is it a mediocre burger but a good price? Was it outrageously expensive and a meh taste? Value will consider not only the cost, but if the burger was worth the price tag.

4. Atmosphere: 1 – 10
Is it in a cool location? Was the staff especially awesome? Can I dress burger casual while chowing down here? All of these are factors in rating the atmosphere.

5. Burger Bonuses: 1 – 10
In this category, I’ll take into account anything special – were there homemade pickles on the side? Were the side options out of this world? Did it come with glitter and happiness? Because sometimes a burger bonus will really make or break an experience.

Burger 1: Lawful Waffle

              Where: Blu Wolf Bistro – Park Ave, Rochester, NY
              When: April 22, 2017 around 8:30pm
              With: Katie Kamm
              Bonus? YES! She bought the burger for me!

1. Bun & Topping options: 10

Not only was my burger fantastic because it came on a freaking waffle for a bun, but the options for all the other burgers were pretty fabulous too. Katie got the Clyde burger that came with white cheddar, peanut butter, and jalapeños. While that is certainly not my style because I don’t let spicy things near me, that certainly added points here. My burger had some pretty standard toppings: bacon, egg, cheese, and maple glaze (nice touch!). However, did I mention the waffle bun?  10/10.

2. Overall Taste: 8

Everything together tasted great, but because it was on a waffle, it was incredibly difficult to navigate eating this beast. One circular waffle was cut in half to serve as the bun, and because of the nature of the differing shapes of a circle burger on a half circle waffle bun, some of my bites were pure waffle without burger which brought down the score. However, when I did finally get bites in that had the burger, the waffle, and all the toppings, it was a magical experience. 8/10

3. Value: 8

My burger with fries was $16. And yes, I know, Katie bought it for me so it was technically free, but I still care about the value. I would hate for my bestie to spend money on me if it wasn’t worthwhile. So for the overall taste it was great, but $16 great? I’m not so sure. It’s hard for me to justify spending $16 for a burger, but this was pretty good. If I could choose a price for this burger that would make it a 10/10 it would be $14. However, because this burger was a bit more than I think it was worth taste wise, I am scoring it 8/10 in this category.

4. Atmosphere:     4

Blu Wolf Bistro is located on Park Ave, which is a pretty trendy/hipster area in Rochester. But it’s also diverse and just a generally nice area. The restaurant itself had a classed-up feel, and I was glad I was wearing a cute dress instead of jeans and a basic tee, but others were dressed like that and it was fine. What is really bringing down the score is that this restaurant has a one-step entrance making it inaccessible and in violation of the 27 year old Americans with Disabilities Act. I was in my manual, so I was able to pop up the step with some assistance, but I wasn’t happy about it and it really did bring down my impression of this place, especially since - based on the classed-up atmosphere and prices of the burgers – it’s clear the owners could afford to make the one step entrance into a ramp. In fact, I’m going to write the owners about this and hopefully get them to an install a ramp without any pushback on their end. That way I could go back and bring all my crip friends for burgers! (They did have a lovely accessible bathroom though, so adding a ramp is really all they need!)

5. Burger Bonuses: 8.

The fries were curly, but not curly fries. They were thick and delicious. I was rather impressed with them. I also got a blueberry martini that tasted like a pixie stick mixed with a smurf. Both taste and presentation were wonderful.

Overall score: 38. Honestly, if they install a ramp the score will go up significantly because I was really impressed with the burger, toppings, drinks, and everything else. Unfortunately, because they’re not accessible, I can’t recommend this restaurant.

Burger 2: 6 Buck Chuck

              Where: Burger Tap & Shake - Foggy Bottom, Washington, DC 
              When: April 26, 2017 around 8:15pm
              With: Kings Floyd
              Bonus? YES! She bought the burger for me!

1. Bun & Topping options: 5

While there were technically 9 different “burger” options with a variety of different toppings, 5 of these “burgers” were not actually burgers. They were chicken, turkey, and even salmon. How are you call any of these burgers! In general, I feel that 9 options are not enough, especially when many of them include spicy things as toppings, such as jalapeños and chipotle sauce. But then cut my selection to only 4 burgers because 5 of the burgers aren’t even burgers? Come on! I ended up getting the 6 buck chuck, which is the house burger that comes with lettuce, pickles, onion, tomato, and AP Sauce - the house blend of mayo, ketchup, mustard, BBQ and chipotle. 5/10

2. Overall Taste: 6.5

The first few bites of my burger were pretty good, until I hit something spicy, which is when I reread the menu and realized the AP sauce had chipotle in it. My own fault for not reading closer. After that spicy bite, I attempted to continue, but my mouth couldn’t handle the fire. Without the spice, it was a decent burger, so I give it a 6.5/10.

3. Value: 7

It’s called a 6 buck chuck for gosh sake! That’s a value! Even with the bit of spice, it was still a good price. It was cheap enough that I didn’t feel guilty about not finishing it after hitting the spicy spot. But what made it better was the milkshake we got the BTS shake (with butterfinger, twix, and snickers) mixed with a cookie and cream milkshake. It was mind blowing. Altogether, the burger and milkshake put Kings back $12 and she called me a cheap date, so I’d say there’s serious value in that. 7/10.

4. Atmosphere: 7

Burger Tap & Shake is in Foggy Bottom, which is a young area of D.C. filled with a whole bunch of college aged hipsters that like to talk about chai and make their own peanut butter at Whole Foods (not judging, I stuck my finger in one of those machines and it was delicious. Also, I have no shame about my unsanitary approach). The restaurant had a super heavy door to get in, but besides that, accessibility was good. Nothing blew me away about the atmosphere, but nothing turned me off either. 7/10.

5. Burger Bonuses: 8.

I can’t tell you enough about this milkshake. Seriously. It had butterfinger, twix, snickers, AND cookies and cream in it. If you’re in D.C., go get this milkshake. If you’re not, fly to D.C. right now and get this milkshake. Also, the pickles on the burger were abnormally delicious. I mean, I love all pickles, but these tasted especially spectacular. 8/10.  

Overall score: 33.5. The milkshake really did make the experience. Nothing against the burger (I mean, besides the spicy part, I have lots of feelings against that), but I’m still thinking about that milkshake.  

Burger 3: Southern Comfort Burger

 Where: Red Robin – Greece, NY   
              When: May 2, 2017
              With: Boring Guy who Didn’t Respect Halloween
              Bonus? YES!  

1. Bun & Topping options: 7

Red Robin does have quite a selection of burgers and toppings, including the Banzai Burger that comes with a pineapple on it (which is what I usually order). However, I’m not so impressed with the bun selection, since they’re all just basically real types of buns. No donuts, no waffles, no fun weird stuff. Just buns. Instead of my usual Banzai Burger, upon the recommendation of my waiter, I switched it up and went with the Southern Comfort Burger which consisted of a ½ lb. Black Angus patty glazed with brown sugar and topped with candied bacon, honey BBQ sauce, sharp Cheddar, caramelized onions and mayo on a toasted ciabatta bun.  7/10

2. Overall Taste: 7

This burger was tasty, without a doubt. The candied bacon really made me happy and the brown sugar glaze was lovely. I’d have it again for sure, but it didn’t impress me so much that I would talk about it for days (and believe me, I have talked about some burgers for days, and one burger for over a year). 7/10

3. Value: 6

The Southern Comfort Burger comes with a price tag of $13.99 with either endless fries or salad. It was a good burger, but I felt like it was a $10 burger, not a $14 burger. I mean, technically, for me it was a free burger, but you know what I mean. I guess what I’m saying is, I’d eat that burger again as long as I wasn’t paying for it. 6/10.

4. Atmosphere:     4

Let’s all be honest here: there is nothing special about the atmosphere of a Red Robin, especially a Red Robin in a mall. The one thing that Red Robin has that *might* increase the atmosphere for some people (10 and under) is the presence of balloons. However, I’m over the age of 10 and I’m allergic to balloons, so they did not help with the score. I am giving this a 4 instead of a 0 simply because my waiter was funny and kept me entertained during what was otherwise a boring date. 4/10

5. Burger Bonuses:  4

The only bonus during this experience was when I wanted fries, but told the waiter I had a New Year’s Resolution to eat more salad, the waiter told me to get the salad as a side and then brought me free fries. I liked that move a lot. Thus the score increased from 0 to 4. 4/10.

Overall score: 34. I would eat this burger again if someone else was buying, especially if I could get the same fun waiter. Otherwise, there was nothing special to make me eager to return. The leftovers were good though, to be fair.

Burger 4: Single Cheeseburger

 Where: All About Burger – Southwest, Washington, D.C.
              When: May 14, 2017
              With: Wilfredo
              Bonus? YES! 

1. Bun & Topping options: 5

I didn’t see any bun options at all – just a standard bun. Topping options were also pretty standard with a few exceptions, like A-1 and mango mayonnaise. I got the mango mayo on the side and wasn’t impressed, but I was happy to have the A-1. Overall, I chose a single burger with cheddar cheese, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mango mayo and A-1 on the side. 5/10

2.  Overall Taste: 5

The burger itself was meh. The bun was also meh. The toppings helped to bring up the score. I would eat this burger again and likely pay for it, but I wouldn’t go around telling the world about it. 5/10

3. Value: 7

The single cheeseburger was a little less than $8 which was reasonable considering the taste and speed. What I found more valuable was my chocolate banana milkshake (around $5) and the fact that they have a half&half order of fries and onion rings for around $7. When I can get a delicious milkshake AND not have to choose between fries and onion rings I am a happy camper. 7/10

4. Atmosphere: 5

The yellow and red décor burned my eyes a bit, but I decided to sit outside which saved my eyes a bit and let me focus my attention on my burger. The people were really nice and I appreciated the outdoor seating. I was frustrated that the benches were attached to the ground, making the tables a bit inaccessible to wheelchair users. Overall, I appreciated the chill atmosphere but wanted more accessibility. 5/10

5. Burger Bonuses:  7

The milkshake selection and the option for fries and onion rings in one order really brought up the score for me at All About Burger. I would suggest they consider renaming the place Great Milkshakes and Side Orders and We Have Burgers Too. 7/10

Overall score: 29. The next time I’m in D.C. with ADAPT I will likely go back to this place because cheap and fast food options are hard to come by later in the evening near our hotel. I will definitely get another burger, but I’ll be more excited about the milkshake.

Burger 5: Wall Street

 Where: Broadway Burger Bar – Atlantic City, NJ.
              When: May 28, 2017
              With: Katie
              Bonus? No 

1. Bun & Topping options: 6

There was only one bun option, unless I wanted a gluten free bun, which I 100% did not want. There were 12 burger options to choose from, but one was a black bean burger and one was a turkey burger, so those weren’t really burgers. Of the 10 options, two were basic burgers with lettuce and tomato, so really there were only 8 options. Of the options, 3 looked good. I settled on the Wall Street which was 8 oz of freshly ground angus beef, swiss cheese, sautéed crimini, button & shitake mushrooms, and truffle mayonnaise. 6/10.  

2. Overall Taste: 8

This burger was really good. Better than I expected actually. At the waiter’s suggestion, I added a bit of A1 to the burger and it was really fantastic. The burger as juicy, the mushrooms and swiss were lovely, and the truffle mayonnaise was outrageously good. It was so delicious I *almost* ate the whole thing. Unfortunately, I ran out of room in my tummy before I could get the whole burger in me. 8/10.

3. Value: 8

This burger was $16 and came with fries. The fries were pretty standard, but the burger was so good that I’m still thinking about it. I would pay about $14 for this burger on a normal day, but I could definitely see myself spending the extra $2 on this baby in the future if I was craving it. However, I doubt I’ll be in Atlantic City again, so this is a but unlikely. 8/10.

4. Atmosphere:  6

The Broadway Burger Bar was in the Tropicana. It was easy to get to, accessible, and had classy décor. It was dimly lit and generally pretty quiet. There was nothing wrong with the place, but also nothing special. 6/10.

5. Burger Bonuses:  4

While the burger was awesome, there was nothing really beyond the burger that would add bonus points. I am giving this a 4/10 because the truffle mayo was so good that not only did I slather it all over my burger, but Katie and I also used it to dip our French fries. 4/10.

Overall score: 32. I’d definitely recommend this burger to others, but don’t expect anything beyond the burger to be amazing. The other burger options are okay, as was the atmosphere, and the price. If all you care about is a great burger, then check this one out when you’re in Atlantic City. 

Burger 6: Burger & Beer for $9.99

 Where: Temple Bar & Grille
              When: May 31, 2017
              With: Katie & her birthday tour
              Bonus? No 

1. Bun & Topping options: 2

When we arrived at the bar, it was the second bar on our Rochester Pedal Tour (where 13 people pedal a bar on wheels around the city). I had eaten one bag of Doritos the entire day (the small personal size, not a big bag – this makes a difference). Basically I was starving and saw a sign that said the Wednesday deal was “Burger and Beer for $9.99.” I asked “Can I get cider instead of beer?” Our bartender, a man we called Katy Perry (and I’m still not sure why) said yes. I then asked “Can I have lettuce, tomato, and mayo on the burger?” and Katy Perry said yes. At no point did Katy Perry offer me any other options, thus the score here is a 2/10. It would have been lower because no choices were actually offered to me, but I did get the lettuce, tomato, and may asked for. I also got onions which were NOT asked for. 2/10.

2. Overall Taste: 0

This burger was terrible. First, there was no cheese. Who serves a burger without cheese? I assume every time I order a burger cheese should come automatically. If this is not the case, Katy Perry should have at least asked me if I wanted cheese. This burger tasted so bad that I spent 10 minutes getting all the drunk people in our party to bite the burger and confirm that it was indeed terrible. Thankfully (?) Katie’s boyfriend volunteered to finish the dry, cheeseless burger for me. 0/10

3. Value: 4

As the title indicates, I got this burger and a beer for $9.99. Now it was a really bad burger, but it did come with a pint for only $9.99 so I’ve got to give them a little credit here. Also, my friends got a free pizza when they ordered their drinks, and I ate some of the pizza, so I am factoring this into the value score. 4/10

4. Atmosphere:   4

Temple Bar & Grille is downtown on East Ave. The inside looks like a basic bar. Not a fancy bar, not even a nice bar. Just a bar. Nothing makes me dislike, but nothing impressed me either. 4/10.

5. Burger Bonuses:  3

As I previously mentioned, my friends got a free pizza with their drinks. This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the burger, but I did benefit from this by eating the pizza after I found out my burger sucked, so I am giving 1 bonus point for that. Additionally, the bartender allowed a group of drunk people to call him Katy Perry and didn't punch any of us, so that deserves at least 2 bonus points. 3/10.

Overall score: 13. If you have no money and no taste buds and it’s a Wednesday night, then this burger is for you. Otherwise, you should probably go somewhere – anywhere – else.

Burger 7: Plantain Burger

              Where: Soly’s Kitchen
              When: June 2, 2017
              With: Wilfredo
              Bonus? Yes 

Bun & Topping options: 10

Listen, I need to be honest, I don’t even know what toppings were available. All I know is that my burger was served between two patties of fried plantains. That’s right! My bun was made of freaking plantains! And to make it even better, there was mayoketchup (pronounced may-o-keh-chu) all over this burger! For those of you who are unrefined when it comes to Puerto Rican delicacies, mayoketchup is basically just a mixture of mayonnaise and ketchup and occasionally some garlic. Basically, it takes my two favorite condiments and puts them together to pair with plantains. I cannot imagine a better burger bun or topping than fried plantain patties and mayoketchup. 10/10

Overall Taste: 8

The burger itself was just fine, but putting it between fried plantain patties and slathering it with mayoketchup made this burger fantastic. I can’t give it a 10 here because the burger patty wasn’t out of this world and figuring out how to approach this burger was intimidating because I couldn’t figure out where/how to bite it. Nonetheless, it was still AMAZING. 8/10.

Value: 10

Okay, I actually have no idea how much this burger costs because my lunch date was a classy guy who didn’t share those details with me. However, regardless of the price, it was 100% worth it. Additionally, based on the general atmosphere of the place, I can’t imagine it was ridiculously expensive. If this burger was less than $15 (and I’d bet all the hair on my head that it was) then it is definitely a 10/10 value.  

Atmosphere:     4

Soly’s Kitchen is a cute little place on Portland Ave. I’m pretty sure the owner cooked my burger and served me. Both the people working there were outrageously friendly and made me feel very welcome. The only downside is that it’s inaccessible. With 3 steps to get in, I had to be carried, which I’m generally opposed to if I am with just anyone. Luckily, I was comfortable being carried by the person I was with, but in any other circumstance, I would probably miss out on this great food because of the stairs. Because of this, I must significantly lower the score. 4/10.

Burger Bonuses:  9

My burger came with plantain chips on the side. That’s right. How can you make a meal with plantains even better? Add more plantains! In addition to being in my plantain glory, Soly’s Kitchen also had fresh mango juice and passion fruit juice. The best is when you take a sip of both and swish them together in your mouth! Between all the plantains and tropical fruit juices, I could not have been a happier girl. Wait, no, I could. If I had maduros (fried sweet plantains) to go with my plantain bun and my plantain chips, it would have blown my mind. For that reason alone, I am giving this a 9/10.

Overall score: 41. If you live for plantains and tropical fruit, and you also don’t need accessibility, you’ll love this place. However, because the restaurant is inaccessible, I can’t recommend it. The moment they find a way to be accessible to all, I will promote the hell of this place because that burger was life changing. 

Burger 8: Burger Special

              When: June 5, 2017
              With: Wilfredo
              Bonus? Yes 

Bun & Topping options: 9

Bunga Burger Bar has six different bun options, including a pretzel bun and a rosemary olive oil bun. They also have 12 different burgers and at least one special burger every day. The 12 burger options include delicious winners such as the Cuban (with pulled pork, bacon, provolone, and pickles) and the Bacon Mac n Cheese burger. Previously, a special was the Mozzarella Stick Burger where the burger came piled with mozzarella sticks, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. On this trip I chose the special with bacon, mozzarella, egg, and tomato (it also came with avocado, but I took that ick off). Given all the bun options and topping combos, this place gets a 9/10 in this category.

Overall Taste: 9

My burger was juicy, the egg was cooked just right, and the mozzarella really added a special touch. It looked and tasted so good that I had already taken several bites before I realized I didn’t take a picture for this blog! To illustrate just how good this burger was, let me tell you about the next day. I took my leftovers to work for lunch the next day. My sister had pasta and I had this burger. I offered her a bite of my burger and she COULDN’T STOP EATING IT. The burger was so good that even the next day it was delicious!! 9/10

Value: 10

I think this burger was $11.50 and it was definitely worth it. I would have paid that for the burger alone, but it also came with sweet potato fries with honey drizzled on them. While I didn’t pay for this burger, it was good enough for me to want to go back and be willing to pay the $11.50 for it. Honestly, I would probably be willing to pay a little more for this burger, so it’s definitely a good value. 10/10

Atmosphere: 6

Bunga Burger Bar is in College Town which is an area right by the University of Rochester. It’s a nice area and the restaurant has accessible parking and is accessible inside as well. Nothing about the inside wows me, but it’s certainly not a let down either. 6/10

Burger Bonuses:  6

I really like the sweet potato fries that they serve and the drizzle of honey really does make them even more delicious. 6/10

Overall score: 40. If you’re looking for a delicious burger and lots of topping options, Bunga Burger Bar will not disappoint. The sweet potato fries definitely seal the deal and keep me coming back!

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