Skip to content

New York State Thruway Burgers

April 24, 2018

This is my life. I’m writing about burgers, and thinking about burgers, right before I get my cholesterol checked. So far, I’ve been able to manage my numbers with diet and a soupçon of exercise. The big question is now that I’ve been less fastidious with the eating, but still focused on healthier choices, are my numbers still in the clear?

We’ll have to wait and see.

What cannot wait, however, is the New York Beef Council’s 2018 Best Burger contest. Officially, I’m participating in the event through my association with Yelp. And I’ve got the honor of being one of the tasting judges.

Once the final four are determined, we’re going to drive around this great state eating burgers, evaluating them on appearance, taste, texture and proper cooking. It’s going to be one epic day (hopefully). Fortunately, most of the places in the top ten are off the NYS Thruway.

Curious to see who made the cut?

You can find the whole list here. And that’s where you can vote for one of the ten. But you should know the following. I had no say whatsoever in which burgers made this list. Do you know how you can tell? Swifty’s isn’t on it.

The list is interesting, because it includes both simple burgers from higher end restaurants which name the farms where they source their beef, and phantasmagorical burgers from diners that are driven by creative, fatty, and flavorful toppings.

Notably “creativity” isn’t one of the judging criteria. So that means toppings for the sake of being clever aren’t going to cut it. They have to add to the appearance, taste, and texture of the burger as a whole.

Ultimately, I’m going to have to judge whatever the contest ends up putting in front of me. But this really is a unique opportunity to get out into some of those smaller hamlets of the state and try some off-the-beaten-path burgers.

For example in Herkimer there is a place called Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner, and they serve a Loose Caboose Burger which is topped with thinly sliced prime rib, cheddar and jack cheese, fried egg, 1000 Island dressing and mayo.

If that’s not a finalist, I may have to schedule a trip to try that thing some other time.

Amazingly, topping a burger with sliced prime rib isn’t terribly unique as you head west into the Finger Lakes. Ale & Angus Pub in Syracuse has the Power Play Burger which is a simpler affair topped only with prime rib, American cheese, lettuce and tomato. Maybe Otto isn’t so crazy after all.

Perhaps that title should go to the folks at Dino’s House of Burgers in Oswego, whose namesake burger is topped with two mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce, served between two grilled cheese sandwiches, and topped with two jumbo onion rings. You could say that’s two much. Or two tempting. But that’s just two silly.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Spa Mirbeau made the cut, and there’s a bacon infused burger on the list, as well as one that honors the King. I kind of expected the last one to have peanut butter on it, but no fuzzy dice.

Surely, after this contest is through, the official scores are tabulated, and the winner is announced, I’ll have a lot of thoughts on the matter. But in the meantime, please vote for the burger you want me to eat the most.

Fortunately, it’s only four burgers. And I’ll probably go halfsies. So as large and loaded as these burgers may be, regardless of how my bloodwork turns out, I’m sure to survive the day.

It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    April 25, 2018 5:38 am

    No local to the Albany area burgers?

    • April 25, 2018 8:52 am

      I blame myself for not being more vocal during the nomination period.

  2. Marco permalink
    April 26, 2018 10:34 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: