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Philly a is a food town. I joke that when people come to visit, all I want to do is show off our restaurants and bars (although our museums, parks, and history are not too shabby either.) I love all of the different food events that happen in Philly as well – festivals, “weeks,” and of course, competitions. The region’s largest food competition is nearly here – the Philly Burger Brawl.

Philly Burger Brawl, now in it’s 9th year, is switching things up a bit this year with a new date in the fall and an all new, even larger, location at the Navy Yard. This year, over 60 Philadelphia region restaurants will fire up the grills and battle for Burger Brawl presented by Jim Beam. The grills come out and the gloves come off on Sunday, September 15, 2019, with VIP gates opening at 1:00pm and general admission opening at 2:00pm. Attendees are invited to enjoy all-you-can-eat samples of the very best burger in Philadelphia and then vote for their favorite. Food critics, writers and celebrity judges will also name one winning burger, “Judge’s Choice.”


Tickets are on sale now at for $45 for advance general admission (or $50 at the door) 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. Twenty-one with identification to drink. Parking is free. Event is rain or shine.


This event is one of my favorites because of its philanthropic side – all proceeds 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. Specifically, event proceeds support hardware needs to implement math and reading literacy programs in underserved elementary schools. Past proceeds have helped fund the purchase of Chromebooks and associated equipment in many Philadelphia Schools. The hardware has enabled schools to implement curriculum plans where the hardware requirements were otherwise unfunded.

Here’s a list of all attendees:

  • Bainbridge Street Barrel House
  • Barbuzzo
  • Bernie’s University City
  • Black Cat Tavern
  • Brick & Brew
  • Brickwall Tavern
  • BurgerFi
  • Chic-a-delphia
  • Craftsman Row
  • Culture on the Circle
  • Del Frisco’s Steak House
  • Elevation Burger
  • Flannel
  • Frankie and Jimmy D’s
  • Greenhouse, New Hope
  • Hanks Place
  • Hard Rock Café
  • Harper’s Garden
  • Hip City Veg & Bombon Bar
  • JT Brewskis Pub
  • Lucky’s Last Chance
  • m2o Burger
  • Milk Boy
  • Misconduct Tavern
  • Moonshine Philly
  • New Wave Cafe
  • Outlaw’s Burger Barn & Creamery
  • Pineville Tavern
  • PJ Clarke’s
  • Profeta Farms
  • Prohibition Tap Room
  • Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft
  • Rouge
  • Sabrina’s Cafe
  • Second District Brewing
  • Shrimpy’s BBQ
  • Steam Pub
  • Stove and Tap
  • Taproom on 19th
  • The Bercy
  • The Common
  • The Red Owl Tavern
  • Three Monkey’s Café
  • Tradesman PHL
  • Tredici Enoteca
  • Twenty Manning
  • Twisted Tail
  • Village Whiskey
  • Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro
  • Yards Brewing Company

So how did the Philly Burger Brawl come to be? In 2011, Maggie and Rob Wasserman created a culinary competition on the playground of The William M Meredith Elementary School. They invited several of their restauranteur friends to duke-it-out with their best burger – The Philadelphia Burger Brawl was born! The Burger Brawl team partnered with The Fund for the Philadelphia School District to provide financial management and direction.  Together they engaged leadership in the Philadelphia School District to help identify literacy programs that required funds to be launched. Since 2011, the Philadelphia Burger Brawl has raised over $283,000.00 (and counting!) to fuel much-needed programs.


To highlight the event, I wanted to share a take on my personal vote for best burger in Philly. My favorite burger I’ve ever had in Philly was about two years ago. Yes. It was that good that I still think about this burger ALL the time. One of my favorite bars, Watkins Drinkery, has a rotating seasonal menu that always includes awesome burgers (and other food. Seriously, their menu rocks). But their Fall 2017 menu had the BEST burger – “signature beef blend, shaved pumpkin, whipped bleu, pistachio, brioche.” So this little burger is my ode to that fantastic-ly awesome burger.

  • 1/2 sugar pumpkin or squash of your choice (I used 1/2 Kabocha Squash, a couple of Delicata Squash would be great too)
  • 4 oz whipped cream cheese
  • 4 oz blue cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I used a blend of 80% lean and Wagyu ground beef)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 4 brioche buns
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Begin by making your crispy pumpkin slices. Preheat your oven to 225 degrees F. Cut open your pumpkin or squash and scoop out any seeds, then cut into large chunks that are small enough to fit on a mandoline slicer. Remove the skin of the pumpkin/squash (if using delicata, you can keep the skin on, if desired). Using a mandoline set to 1.5MM, carefully slice your pumpkin/squash. You’re going to get all sorts of strange shapes. The larger you can make them, the better. They are going to at least halve in size. But smaller ones are fine too! (I ended up with a few that kind of resembled chips. Woo hoo!)

Add to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 225 degrees for 30 minutes. Keep the squash in the oven and turn off the oven. Let sit for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt. Let cool completely.

While the slices bake, add the ground beef to a large bowl and combine (if using a blend). Divide into 4 equal portions, forming a rounded disk that is thinner in the center and thicker on the sides (you can make an indentation with your thumb to do this). Season both sides of the burgers with salt and pepper.

Add the whipped cream cheese and blue cheese to a food processor. Pulse until combined.

Chop your pistachios.

When ready to cook the burgers, preheat your grill to high. Brush each burger with canola oil. Add the burgers to the grill over direct heat and cook for about 3 minutes, or until they are slightly charred.

Flip the burgers and cook for another 4 minutes.

Use a thermometer to take the temperature of each burger. If they read 145 degrees or higher, remove from heat. If they are below 145 degrees, move off of direct heat and let cook until they reach 145 degrees F (mine needed a couple more minutes).

Toast the burger bun halves over indirect heat for the last minute that the burgers are on the grill.

Spread the bun with the whipped blue cheese. Add the cooked burger on top of the bottom half of the brioche bun.

Top the burger with a few of the crispy pumpkin slices, and sprinkle with pistachios.

Finish with the top brioche bun and enjoy!

I haven’t the faintest idea why pumpkin slices are good with burgers but MAN are they good together!

The whipped blue cheese is creamy and flavorful, but the addition of the cream cheese tones down the “blue cheese” flavor a bit. And the little bit of crunch from the pistachios are an awesome addition!

Don’t forget to grab your tickets for the Burger Brawl. With 60+ competitors, there are going to be some seriously awesome burgers there!


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