I’m always on the lookout for fun, new things to do in the area, so I couldn’t pass up an invitation to preview the upcoming 9th Annual Philadelphia Burger Brawl last Wednesday night. If you’re asking how it can be a “new” thing to do, when it’s the “9th annual,” the answer is because it’s new to me. I’m just late for the party. Although I never went to the Philly Burger Brawl before, it always sounded “interesting,” so off I went to the media tasting preview tour to see what’s up with all this burger-hoopla, year after year.
Sizzle, sizzle! Over 65 restaurants are getting ready to fire up their grills for this year’s Philadelphia Burger Brawl, 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15 at the Marine Parade Ground at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Held last year at Xfinity Live!, the location was moved to the more spacious Navy Yard to accommodate the Brawl’s growing fan-base, which gets larger each year. Presented by Jim Beam, the region’s largest burger event will be a fun—and delicious—way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And who doesn’t like a really good burger? Sure, we can just drive through Wendy’s or fire up our own backyard grills, but it wouldn’t be half as much fun or benefit anything other than our hungry stomachs.
Members of the community are invited to the 2019 Philadelphia Burger Brawl to enjoy all-you-can-eat samples of burgers, prepared by top chefs and culinary experts, and then vote for their favorite one. Food critics, writers and celebrity judges will also name one winning burger “Judge’s Choice.” The chefs outdo themselves, year after year, in order to claim the bragging rights associated with winning titles.
Restaurants and bars will also compete in the Cutthroat Cocktail Competition, sponsored by Jim Beam. At least 45 different cocktails will be in the competition, vying for the “best” titles.
Other activities throughout the afternoon will include live music and bands, plus many surprises.
Coincidentally, a friend of mine celebrated his birthday this past week and his wife was taking him out to dinner. I asked him where he was going. “Do you like a good steak, seafood, ethnic dishes—what’s your ‘perfect birthday dinner?’” I asked him. He rather surprised me when he said his ideal dinner is a deluxe burger. “There’s nothing like a really good burger,” he commented.
I thought of him at the Burger Brawl preview last Wednesday, as we dined and sampled gourmet burgers at four Center City restaurants, each one ready to compete in the Brawl’s main event on Sunday. He would have been in his absolute glory! I tried a really thick and delicious burger at the Tradesman’s, 1322 Chestnut St.; a slider with a fried egg on top at the Brickwall,1213 Sansom St.; a full-sized burger with a sunny-side up egg on top at the MilkBoy Philly, 1100 Chestnut St.; and a veggie burger at Hip City Veg, 121 S. Broad St. Each burger I sampled was incredible, so if you go, you’re in for a real treat. True confessions– none of these burgers would have been anything that I would have ordinarily ordered at a restaurant, but I appreciated being nudged out of my culinary comfort zone. If you go to the Brawl, I suggest that you keep an open mind and an adventurous palate as you sample your way through the day. Although I rated which burger was the best in my book, I’m going to keep mum on my own personal winner and let you decide for yourself if you go.
In addition to providing a peek at some trendy center city restaurants, as well as the burger samples, the preview tour also afforded an opportunity to sample some of the yummy cocktails that will be featured at Sunday’s Brawl.
In addition to the food, drink, music and family-fun, one of the best parts about going to the Brawl is that 100% of the proceeds will go to The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia to support hardware needs to implement math and reading literacy programs in underserved elementary schools. What this means is that if you feel guilty eating all those burgers and drinking all those cocktails, you can erase the guilt and rest easy, knowing your contribution is helping to put plans into action to increase student engagement and achievement across all subjects, in a variety of ways.
On our first stop on the media tasting tour, we got to meet Rob Wasserman, the man who started the Brawl, back in 2011. Maggie and Rob Wasserman created a culinary competition on the playground of The William Meredith Elementary School where their children attended. They invited several of their restauranteur friends to duke-it-out with their best burger as a school fundraiser and the Philadelphia Burger Brawl was born. Since 2011, the Philadelphia Burger Brawl has raised over $283,000 to fuel much-needed programs. According to the Burger Brawl website, this year’s goal is to raise $56,500.
Tickets to attend the 2019 Burger Brawl, are on sale now at phillyburgerbrawl.com/. Tickets are $45 for general admission which includes samples and one free cocktail. VIP tickets are also on sale for $100 with perks like early entry, a VIP lounge and unlimited drinks. Children under 10 are free, no ticket required. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Of course, everyone must be 21, with ID, if they plan to sample those luscious cocktails. Parking is free at Navy Yard Philadelphia and the event is held rain or shine. To get more details, visit http://phillyburgerbrawl.com/.