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-Brenda Hillegas

First off. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for posting a review of this event rather than a preview. Trust me, you’ll be sorry too once you hear about the great time I had yesterday at the 9th annual Philadelphia Burger Brawl presented by Jim Beam.

This year, the massive food competition moved to a new space- Marine Parade Ground at Navy Yard- to allow attendees much more room…and more burgers! The Burger Brawl gives you all-you-can-eat samples of the best burgers in the Philadelphia area. Enjoy as many as you want, all of them if you dare, and go back for seconds to be sure before voting for your favorite. Food critics, writers and celebrity judges also picked a winner.

All proceeds go to The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia to support whatever they may need in order to implement math and reading literacy programs in underserved schools. The Burger Brawl has raised over $283,000 since their first year. In 2011, Maggie and Rob Wasserman created the Burger Brawl on the playground of The William M Meredith Elementary School. They invited several of their restaurant friends to compete! Since then, the event and the cause have expanded! You can learn more about the fund and what it supports at or on the Burger Brawl website here.

Every participating restaurant deserves a huge round of applause for their dedication. Lines were long at many of the tables, but moved very quickly. It was fun to watch restaurant owners, employees, chefs, and volunteers put together beautiful burger bites to feed the masses. Every burger was photograph worthy and cooked perfectly. It was a hot day and I imagine much hotter by the grills. So, thank you, wonderful burger creators- we see how hard you worked yesterday and appreciate it.

I couldn’t get through every single burger- as much as I wanted to- but the ones I had were excellent. I’d be a terrible judge! Burgers topped with lobster, egg, pickle chips, made of meatball, kielbasy or chicken-fried steak, buns of bao, french toast, garlic toasted, ingredients made fresh on local farms, sweet tomato jam, burgers with a spicy kick, sauces of all types. I even saw some french fries. This was foodie heaven.

My day also included getting a sweet temporary burger-themed tattoo from Eastern Pass Tattoo and a refreshing, unique soda sample from Multi-Flow Beverage Solutions (I had the pineapple cream). There were Jim Beam samples on hand (the peach bourbon was amazing) and very affordable and good beer options at $5 a can.

Yes, the sun was grilling all of the guests, but the beer tents were a cool gathering place for all ages. The trees surrounding the perimeter of the event provided shade and a place to take a break before another round of shoving burgers into my mouth. Bring fans, bring sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and come up with a plan of action to devour as many burgers as possible.

Participants included Bainbridge Street Barrel House, Barbuzzo, Bernie’s University City, Black Cat Tavern, BurgerFi, Chic-a-delphia, Craftsman Row, Elevation Burger, Frankie and Jimmy D’s, Hanks Place, Hard Rock Café, 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, 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 Red Owl Tavern, Tredici Enoteca, Twenty Manning, Twisted Tail, Village Whiskey, Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro, Yards Brewing Company. New competitors for 2019: Flannel, Tradesman’s, Harper’s Garden, Avalon Bistro, Brick & Brew, Brickwall Tavern, Culture on the Circle, Del Frisco’s, Green House, Hip City Veg, Profeta Farms, South Bowl, The Common, Three Monkey Cafe.

And the winners were…

Lucky’s Last Chance (Judges Choice)- the Pickle Monster. A burger topped with American cheese, sweet relish, deep fried pickles, pickle aioli, Herrs pickle potato chips and a Liscio’s Bakery bun.

Bainbridge Street Barrel House (People’s Choice)- the Home Grown. A brisket burger blend with Green Meadow Farm horseradish cheddar, fig aioli, shredded lettuce, plum shishito bacon jam and fried shallots.

The Burger Brawl is a great family outing, so keep an eye out for next year’s event and plan to be there. Tickets were $45 for advance general admission (or $50 at the door) which includes samples and one free cocktail. VIP tickets were $100 with early entry, a VIP lounge and unlimited drinks. So expect similar pricing next year. Children under 10 are free and no ticket is required. I left the kid at home and immediately regretted the amazing Instagram photos I could have created with bite-sized samples and a one-year-old. And the Navy Yard is a beautiful space to explore if you arrive too early or if you want to walk off everything you ate before heading back to the car.

Follow and @phillyburgerbrawl on Instagram!


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