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Forgotten Burger Week Post: Industry Favorites Burger-Off

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Clockwise from left, Mike of Bloodhound, Grant of Thrillist and Jared of Rivera PR
Clockwise from left, Mike of Bloodhound, Grant of Thrillist and Jared of Rivera PR

Forgive us for a moment as we bring a forgotten Burger Week post into this Friday's rotation. Few bonds are as deeply tied as that between a man and his favorite burger. We asked three industry types: Thrillist editor Grant Marek, Bloodhound and Churchill owner Mike Goebel and Rivera PR founder Jared Rivera, to subject their favorite burgers to a bout of grueling criticism and a burger taste-off. Grant anted up the Fifth Floor burger, Jared brought in his client's Super Duper burger, and Mike threw his beloved Citizen's Band burger into the ring. We also added a mystery wild card burger with a cult following to make things interesting—and a dog, for the animalistic take. Read the burger debate—with grunts of pleasure kindly removed—after the hop.

Gentlemen please describe your burgers.
Grant: The Fifth Floor burger has a combination of short rib, chuck and skirt steak, onions marinated for three hours in Jack Daniels and brown sugar. You could just have those onions on a plate and consider that amazing.
Jared: The show off burger! Oh, I'm sorry.
Grant [looking at the Citizen's Band burger]: That burger is huge.
Jared: Oh my god, I'm not gonna break ground on that thing. We need a knife. Ok, Super Duper. The way Italians make it, you know the Italians these guys do Beretta; they do everything a little bit better. The secret here is they sharpen their spatulas. At first I thought, "Is this some mafia shit or something?" but no, here's why it's better. It's about the caramelization of the burger. They sharpen the spatula; the caramelization stays on the patty and they flip it over. That's how you get all that goodness.

Zack, tell us about the wild card.
Zack: It's 100% pure Storm Hill Angus beef, ground every day fresh. We model our burgers after the Midwestern burger shack out in Kansas. We mince our onions extremely fine so they cook in the juice we have on the grill; we also use the Midwestern smash burger technique. We put it on the grill in a ball so it gets a crust on one side of the ball, flip it over and smash it. None of the juice comes out because it's not hot enough quite yet to let the juice out. Add cheese, put the bun on top while it's cooking so it steams on the burger cheese. We put butter lettuce, hothouse tomatoes and a special sauce, made with homemade ketchup. That's got to be hard to make. It's pretty labor intensive.

Mike: Citizen's Band is the winner in terms of size. It's an experience, that burger.

Grant: Personally, it's too colossal for me. I think it's too much. I think that burger could kill you. It looks deadly. Jared has a secret cooler over here and backup burgers, not sure this is fair!

Jared: Super Duper has a little mayo, La Boulange makes their bread every day, freshly grounded beef every day, Niman Ranch beef.

Grant: The only knock I have on the Super Duper burger: they compare it to In-N-Out, and I think the In-N-Out should be compared to you.

Everyone go around and say what they think.

Mike: Super Duper. I love the bun on the Super Duper the best because they're softer. I like the brioche on Fifth Floor, but it's just too much...dry bread. I don't like the raw onion on the Super Duper, but I think the flavor is probably in the top two. But it doesn't have any identifying characteristics, like the special onions or the egg and Benton's bacon on Citizen's Band's burger.

Jared: It doesn't need it though.

Mike: You're right, the simplicity is beautiful.

Jared: It's like picking up a girl for a date. She's got all this makeup on and she's all dressed up and you're gonna take it off anyway.

Grant: It's like what are you looking to accomplish with your burger? [Pointing at Fifth Floor's burger] Do you want something from an upscale place? [Pointing at Super Duper's burger] Do you want a more everyman burger? [Pointing at Citizen's Band's burger] Do you want to die? Do you want a two hour adventure?

Jared: Citizen's Band's is going to take you about an hour and a half to eat it.

Grant: And in the bathtub. I'm a little intimidated by it.

Jared: I'm not a big egg guy. It's breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch all combined. You've got your eggs, bacon, meat..

Grant: Here's another question about the wild card. I don't know about the dipping. I don't know how that fits into the burger experience. I actually like it better dipped in the ketchup.

Mike: In my mind it's a loaded question. If you want a quick grab-and-go great burger, you can throw it down in a second and keep on moving with your day, Super Duper burger is really nice. It's not as unique and specialized as Fifth Floor and Citizen's Band but the flavor is there and it's great. Fifth Floor and Citizen's Band are a little more in depth, and they just have more finer tuned elements, but it's much more of a journey. You know you can't walk down the street and eat these burgers.

Let's guess where the mystery burger is from.

Grant: I have no idea. The ketchup threw me.
Jared: See the one thing with the ketchup is, I like Heinz. Classic.
Grant: I like personalized ketchup. You can't get this ketchup anywhere else!
Mike: I think it comes from Marlowe.
Grant: No. I'm gonna say no to that.
Jared: It's such a wild card you'll never get it. It's a food truck called Doc's of the Bay.
Grant: Oh wow that's cool. I just saw your truck covered by that truck rapper.
Jared: For the record Super Duper has jars of these pickles. I saw this guy trying to dump a whole jar of them on his plate.
Grant: How about this. How many of the chefs were voted most attractive chef in the country?
Mike: What? That definitely plays a role. Is it a guy chef or a girl chef?
Grant: It's a guy
Mike: I don't want a good-looking guy making my burger. It's over for Fifth Floor for me now.
Grant: Yeah Fifth Floor has the best looking chef in America
He did win Eater's San Francisco Hottest Chef in America contest, then he went on to the nationals. And he won nationals.
Jared: Wow.

Final decisions
Grant: Ah, I'm gonna go Super Duper
Mike: It's unanimous
Grant: I honestly thought it was going to be much closer. If you need a knife and a fork for your burger, it's not a burger.
Citizen's Band wins for size.
Grant: I kept going back for more of the Super Duper.
Rivera: It's like that girl. You know she's not too dressed up. And you wake up the next morning thinking about her. And you can't stop thinking about her. And then you're in love.
Mike: I think we have a bigger lesson here. Everyone has their take on a burger, but it's like leave the burger, how it should be. Don't fuck with the burger. Leave the burger manageable, edible, small bun.

Fifth Floor

12 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 415 348 1555

Citizen's Band

1198 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 556-4901